It is getting to be busy. Since I last posted I have revised against the pull of silence and also revisited Peace, My Heart for a performance at Mary Abbots on the morning of 13th July. Neither of these has necessitated a complete rewrite, but it is still a matter of personal pride to try to make sure that the score is as accurate as possible and that the piece is as polished as I believe it can be.
Against all of this was a weekend spent in Anghiari, cajoling the local choir up to performance standard for a performance of Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, which I should probably refer to as the Inno di lode, as it was sung in my new Latin version. Despite one or two unhappy vowels and stresses, some easily fixed the others a little more tricky, the piece works happily in its new garb, and, quite surprisingly, good old Felix ends up sounding a bit like Donizetti in the tenor and soprano duet. Who would have thought it?
This choral marathon serves as a timely reminder that the Anghiari Festival is just around the corner, and, while my various bits of arranging are coming into focus, I am trying to clear the decks as much as possible and at the same time get down to my fighting weight. Walking through Anghiari on Friday evening to the first rehearsal I was stopped no fewer than four times by locals coming to say hello, and it is that atmosphere of welcome, above all, which makes the place so special for all involved. You should drop in and see us during the Festival.
If you come on the Friday you will be able to hear the local singers, augmented by some visitors, give a second performance of the Lobgesang, paired with against the pull of silence as the opener, and my string work receives its first performance this coming Thursday at St. John’s Waterloo, coupled with Schubert’s Symphony No.5 as the free evening Rush Hour Concert, directed by Simon Over and played by the strings of Southbank Sinfonia. I was with the orchestra as they rehearsed Britten and Shostakovich in the venue and I can already tell that any deficiencies in the music will be wholly mine.
The rewrite of Peace, My Heart has involved just a touch of rejigging of the final page to make it performable by the forces at Mary Abbots on a Sunday morning, their choir being a little smaller than the one at St. Bride’s, for which it was written. I have one small doubt in my mind about the rewrite, and still feel that I prefer the original, but if that is what it takes to make a performance doable then it is a small sacrifice.
And Magna Carta. It has been back to the composing desk after the happiness of being able to tell people about this, and I am busily rereading books on the subject as well as digging into new areas of research, gathering information from people much more learned than I. The sketching is going happily, I am glad to say, and the musical language is direct and bold in places, more involved in others. So far, so good, I think, although much still needs to be added, of course, and there is a long way to go. I feel good about this piece, far removed from the “Where-do-I-start?” moment of a short while ago (answer = “Anywhere!”), and the current idea of relying on a small set of interrelated themes seems to be working well. I am in no doubt that there will be significant amounts of rewriting and hammering into shape along the way, so the sooner something substantial is on paper the better.
Meanwhile a couple of competition entries sit in inboxes and some other plans are coming to fruition as well. Oh, and Of All Persons And Estates sounded pretty frisky on Tuesday evening at the Parliament Choir rehearsal. It all bodes well for a good July, I hope.