If there was one piece of mine I really wanted to see performed this year it was against the pull of silence and yesterday the magnificent Southbank Sinfonia, directed by my wonderful colleague and ally Simon Over, gave a truly superb first rendition of this, and one which was of immense value to me personally. We are barely half way through the year, but I already know that the remaining six months will have to be pretty impressive to surpass this.
I had sent the orchestra my listening notes for the piece and it seems that they opened up the music for the players. I am ardently in favour of modern music – in fact music in general – being explained in clear terms to listeners, and it is clear that doing the same is valuable for performers as well. Whatever, from the very first note of last night’s performance it was clear that the interpretation had been crafted from the first run throughs and was decidedly in line with what I wanted from the piece as a writer.
As that final chord faded to nothing I wondered if anybody would ever start applauding, my main concern being that my heart would beat its way out of my chest in that hung silence waiting to be filled, but it was a really magical moment. The piece will be performed again in Anghiari on the 25th, and, after last night’s performance, it appears that there are already mutterings about having it done again thereafter. Needless to say, I am wholly in favour of such plans.
So much of writing comes down to belief, that ephemeral, transitory quality which can so befuddle and beguile the writer. What a performance such as yesterday’s does, however, is mean that I believe in myself and my writing just a little bit more. This has been, emphatically and undoubtedly, a group effort. For a commission so deeply felt and so personal my only intention was to make it worthy of that focus and maybe, just maybe, have the opportunity to place it into the repertoire so that both it and the attached dedication will endure. The whole idea of the piece is about leaving something behind – sound, legacy, whatever – so to feel that it has made a little impact is something of very great value indeed. My grateful thanks to all.