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It was a very happy end to 2014, walks across the Somerset countryside, drinks with our new neighbours and other friends further afield, all of whom, it seems, are lovely and highly sociable. The clink of empty bottles in the recycling boxes makes us feel right at home. It was not all relaxation, though, for a mere eight hours before the deadline I managed to finish work on the first version of the piano score of the Carta Cantata, which will probably be the rehearsal score for now. Realising that over nine months of work had finally come to the end of its first stage rather took me by surprise, and it was an emotional moment. The hard work of orchestrating it and getting it performed is yet to come, but that hardest of the grafts is done and, at last, I have something to show people when they ask me what it is like.

So what is it like? Well, at nearly an hour long it runs through various styles, from the harmonically stable to the edgy and frenetic, sometimes both at once, but I am hopeful that the narrative drive through each of the three movements is successful and that the run from beginning to end, done without a break in each section, makes dramatic and musical sense. At times I feel that there might be one repetition too many in certain areas, but I tell myself that in a piece as large as this one ideas need to be restated with emphasis if they are to be remembered forty minutes or so down the line. I am also happy for now with the way the material has emerged, and believe that there is a unified idea and approach running through the whole piece, even if it may express itself in many different ways.

Up next for this piece is the extraction of the edited version for performance in June (the “Runnymede” version) and then the orchestration of the whole thing. I have quoted the commissioners what I feel is a challenging but realistic deadline, but I shall certainly need to be more organised than I have been since the house move, although it is good to know that the worst of the chaos is behind me.

I barely had time to find my feet in 2015, however, before I had to point the Toyota eastwards and get up at four o’clock to catch a flight out to Italy to be present for the third performance of against the pull of silence. A flying visit (in all senses) to the beautiful city of Rieti was utterly enjoyable, and it was interesting to see how the piece eventually clicked with the orchestra.  I think that they had had a hard time with it on the Friday evening in a difficult acoustic, but, come the performance, they were totally involved and utterly committed, appreciative too.  It was a shame that I was not able to stay longer, but duty calls.

Today I have an interview with a lady from the local paper to discuss my composing, and I have been up bright and early to do a little tidying on the Carta Cantata and some writing on O God Of Earth And Altar for the Parliament Choir’s March concert.  It is going to be a busy and fulfilling couple of months,  no doubt, and we shall see what comes of the whole Rieti experience.