As we head away from the Bank Holiday weekend it is about time I took stock of the past week and communicated my thoughts. It has been an interesting week, many things happening in diverse areas, so much so that it has been hard to pin any single project down and focus on that for a decent length of time. Even so, I managed to escape from The Smoke for a short while and recharge the batteries just a little.
Let’s start with Melody Divined, which I rehearsed with the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir last Thursday evening. In the rather supportive acoustic of St. Peter’s, Eaton Square it sounded good, better than it had done the previous week, and for many in the choir I felt that in the course of the rehearsal the music tipped over from a seemingly random series of notes into something that made a kind of sense. It certainly sounded as much, and even though it is not yet in a position to be performed without some light supportive accompaniment, it is still beginning to sound like a piece of music. What is more, some of them seem to like it.
Great news also about my piece for string orchestra against the pull of silence. If there is one piece which has been sitting atop the “must get this performed pile”, then this is surely it, and my great colleague Simon Over has taken the leap of faith and programmed the work as part of this year’s Anghiari Festival. This has come as a complete surprise to me, for there were no hints dropped, and I must admit that my second thought upon finding out (first thought was a quiet “wow!”) was “is the piece good enough?”. Well, some people clearly think it is, and it would be churlish of me to argue! The wonderful acoustic of the cloistered Carmine, where it is scheduled to receive its first performance, could hardly be more perfect. It is with a mixture of genuine excitement and nervousness (Will it sound as I have imagined it? Will people like it? Will it communicate what it set out to do?) that I look forward to this premiere, a significant step.
If you have been keeping an eye on news in the arts this week you will have seen that critics have come in for a fair amount of stick in the past few days, but I felt that John Quinn’s online review of the CD which includes Flyht was a genuinely thoughtful and balanced critique. Admittedly, the bits I read first were those pertaining to my piece (so much for never reading reviews of one’s own work!), and I was glad to see that John had spent the time to get to know the work and, more importantly, to understand it. He is right, of course, that the section in Old English makes the piece difficult to disseminate widely, so maybe there is room for thought there, but, in general, I thought that he was spot on, and credit is due. I still think that I list “lopsided” as the favourite adjective attached to my work, but I’m definitely happy for now with “interesting and inventive”. Thank you, John.
Amidst all the kerfuffle of the week – performances, reviews, writing – was an approach about a new piece (or old, possibly, we have not quite got that far yet!), and, as will become the norm over the next few months I hope, further progress on The Big Piece. Having sat on this particular egg for some time it really does feel as if it is about to hatch, and, with roughly ten minutes of material already sketched out, I am good to go on this the second it is officially confirmed. This has been a long and extended process, but there has been genuine progress recently almost from day to day, so it is surely only a matter of time.
Over the next few days I hope to complete a trumpet part for the Lobgesang performance in Anghiari next month, which will not take too long, but does need to see me sit down in front of a computer for a bit, and get moving on the various pieces on the drawing board. Also, slowly but inexorably, the building blocks are coming together for an eventual move to somewhere quieter, greener and more pleasant. More than anything else it is a question of having a target, for it is easier to aim when one knows what one is aiming at, but that target now seems set, so it is a question of putting the various steps together to get there.
Lastly, while walking through London this week I spotted this sign outside Southwark Tube, and I shall keep it here as a reminder that, however much I feel I have failed when something slips past my rigorous proof-reading process (as happened with Melody Divined), it probably will never be quite as obvious nor as publicly visible as this.