The hard work continues on 1215: The Foundation Of Liberty, the cantata for Magna Carta 800. Having completed the rehearsal score of the full 60′ version just before the New Year chimed in, I have been hard at work editing, refining and resetting the layout, also extracting the 20′ version, which we hope to perform at Runnymede (the “Runnymede” version). I had worried that it would be tricky to put together twenty minutes of material, but the opposite turned out to be true, and the problems I encountered centered around what to leave out rather than what to keep in. As a result, this version is, to my ears, lean and taught, and what one might lose in the build up of themes is offset by the dramatic inevitability of the piece.
Almost immediately I need to get going on the orchestration, a part of the job which I love, despite all the checking one needs to do to ensure accuracy, and I also need to extract audio files from Sibelius so that interested parties can have some idea of what the piece actually sounds like. So far so good, and, having brought the deadline for the completion of the full work forward by about a month, I think I am in a decent position to beat even that. Given that work started later than I expected, I think it has been a pretty good project so far. All very exciting.
This means that O God Of Earth And Altar, which exists thus far only in fragments, now has to sit on the sidelines for a week or two until 1215 has more flesh on its bones. Thankfully, there is enough of Earth And Altar for the choir to work with, and the rest (solo sections and orchestral interludes) will not be needed for a while yet. This kind of juggling with several pieces at once is thrilling, in a way, but it does call for razor-sharp organisation and nerves of steel. Getting behind on one thing can have rather nasty knock-on effects, so using free time to invest in getting ahead is a very wise thing indeed, I think.
It feels strange to be getting close to the end of the writing process with 1215. The earliest ideas for this piece date back nearly two years (25th January 2013), so it had clearly been mentioned to me at some point by then, and it has been a thrilling journey with all sorts of emotions. In many ways the writing has been the easiest and most relaxing bit of it, because it is something I think I know how to do and which has come relatively easily, despite the scale of the piece. At the moment I dream of the music, and wake up with fragments running around my head, and it will be strange, eventually, to leave this long-term companion behind, but I’ll deal with that when it comes. For now we have much more quality time to spend together.