I knew that this patch of the year would be busy, but its ferocity has taken me a little by surprise. I am involved with preparations for the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir concert on the 11th, will be playing at the memorial concert for Nick Gale on the 12th, am in the middle of arranging umpteen pieces for the Parliament Choir concert on the 25th, added to which are two sets of lectures, various services and goodness knows what else. In the middle of it all I am even putting the occasional note onto paper.
It is all good work, though, nothing that I feel is not worthwhile, and it is always a pleasure to get ankle deep, or deeper, in new music, whether performing, writing, analysing, or simply talking about it, and I have been taking great pleasure in the series of classes at an august but non-musical institution not far from King’s Cross, whose students are both interested and interesting, but not musicians. Something like that is genuine refreshment for me, and the focus of the course – Music and Art – has broadened my own perspective immensely, and I think that many musicians, myself included, are a little short changed by the narrow focus of their education.
It is performance season as well for me. O Roma Felix, a piece I wrote for Nick and the singers at St. George’s, will be performed at his memorial concert next week, and re-editing it has proved to be an unexpectedly intense experience, as has listening to the recording made while the choir was on tour in Germany. Happy memories all, and tinged with the sadness that loss brings with it. The cats chez nous have been impromptu hug providers over the past few days.
On the 22nd the new Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis on Eb will receive its premiere at Christ Church, Hampstead, at what will most likely be a joyous occasion. One musician has already written to me to say that they like the piece more and more as they get to know it, and, privately, I think that is a decent assessment. After all, I must have heard it at least one hundred times, and I still find myself enjoying it.
Then, on the 25th, it is time to get the Te Deum off the starting blocks. I am still working hard on getting the Parliament Choir to count to five rather than four, but we shall get there. Again, looking forward to hearing this one in the orchestral flesh, and there is talk already of further performances next year, of it heading straight into the church repertoire. That would be a good result.
On top of it all, the commission for Cantores Salicium is (still) nearly complete, sadly being pushed a little sideways by the current burden of work, and a new commission, a song for soprano and piano, dropped into my inbox only this afternoon.
I have still found time to do some good things aside from the music, however, such as an epic game of Carcassonne (a narrow loss) and some lovely fireworks yesterday evening with the inhabitants of over the fields (“the mead”, apparently). The number of people who had shipped up here from London was, well, nearly everybody, and there was a hale and hearty atmosphere all round as we stood in the narrow road, glasses of wine in hand, and watched the colours light up the November sky. In Mitcham firework season, like Christmas at Harrods, began months early and always threatened to come through your letterbox, but here it arrives and leaves pretty much as expected. The Carnival is coming the week after next, too…
I must admit that I am looking forward to Thursday evening, for by then I shall be back in Somerset, tucked away in my cottage, and able to put what will have been a busy and emotionally tiring few days behind me. Meanwhile, chin up and all that. There’s some music to be written and some wonderful Pergolesi to listen to!