It may well be that some of the pre-Runnymede nervous tension has taken a while to subside, but really it is only today that I feel as relaxed as I think I should be. On Tuesday, after playing for a memorial service in Kensington, I managed to get on the wrong train for the third time in two days, some kind of record even for me, but I gamely got through the rest of the day’s teaching and then zipped out of London, past Stonehenge (the pre-Solstice cones by the side of the road) and, at length, home.
I was interviewed on Tuesday morning by a reporter from one of the papers down here in Somerset, so I think I may have appeared in this week’s edition, but, rather like my reaction when I appeared on the big screens on Monday morning, I am reluctant to be seen buying multiple copies of my appearance in the local paper. Maybe tomorrow.
So on Wednesday I throttled back, went to the market in Wells both for breakfast and to chat to our favourite traders, caught up on a pile of emails, almost as if people had been waiting for the Magna Carta anniversary to pass before, as one, pressing “Send”. Then, in the evening, we adjourned to a local hostelry whose food was as good as the welcome was terse, which will make it tricky in future to decide whether they are deserving of my hard-won earnings.
Come Thursday we spent a very pleasant afternoon with our former neighbours, who have moved only slightly further down the road, catching up on the local news, and enjoying the early summer sun under the shade of the trees. Thence to the fields and the river and then back here.
As you might have gathered, all this means that I did not really achieve much in the way of getting new notes onto paper but, to be frank, there were other things to do, not least of which was catching up on sleep. Already this morning, though, I have been up bright and early and spending some time sketching ideas for my new piece, which is a setting of the Te Deum for choir and orchestra for the Parliament Choir’s November concert. This is a big, meaty text and I’ll be able to write for big, meaty forces, so it is a fairly large project, although, of course, not nearly as big as something like 1215: Foundation Of Liberty. The initial ideas have come relatively easily, and I have already sketched out the first section of text so I am optimistic that the main body of this will fall into place without too much trouble. As always with the Parliament Choir which, while of excellent quality, is still a non-audition choir, I need to write something interesting to sing and listen to, something that provides challenge and reward but without being over the border into gratuitous modernism and impossibility. I feel nervous every time I write something for the choir, as hitting that target always feels a little like a high wire act, but so far so good.
Alongside the Te Deum I plan to continue adding details to the Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis on Eb and have those two pieces as my main priority at least for the rest of the month. Hopefully they will be close to finished by then, for the summer will see the polishing of 1215 and a couple of other commissions to write, meaning that, come September, I will have the decks relatively clear to take on anything new that might arrive happily into my inbox.