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From a few weeks back I had been aiming for yesterday evening as the point when things would return back to something approaching normal.  There is a rhythm to the freelancer’s year, and this patch is one of the busier ones, not simply in things to be done, but also in terms of things for which one needs to prepare.  The past month and a bit has been a blur of lecture notes, orchestrations, practice, playing, conducting, choir training, lecturing…and composing, of course.  Everything has come a little to a head in these couple of weeks, with lectures, concerts and the like coming pretty much back to back, but I have managed to keep my head above water, despite the work, the miles covered on the road and, at some times, the filthy weather.

I got home late on Thursday, after the concert for Nick Gale, at which my O Roma Felix was performed, and pretty well, I’d have to say.  It was as cheery and upbeat an occasion as Nick’s funeral in March was sombre and difficult, and it was lovely to be back with former members of the choir there, much laughter in evidence.  Playing the Agnus Dei of the Durufle Requiem was an emotional moment, but, apart from that, it was a good evening, even if I was back to Somerset very late indeed.

Once back, though, it was that lovely feeling of being, at last, off the clock, so we opened some champagne with which to toast absent friends, and loaded up various items to watch on the iPlayer, including The Last Kingdom, which I am enjoying very much indeed.  I read one of Bernard Cornwell’s books a few years back and was not particularly impressed, but I have been enjoying the acting and writing so far in this series, also the casting, which is very good indeed.  Such a relief, too, to find a decent historical drama which is not so afraid that the pull of its subject matter alone might be insufficient that it has to add in gratuitous naughtiness and the like.  Instead this is solid stuff, with some great acting especially from those playing the Danes, who I definitely would not like to meet on a dark night.  More of this, please.

The first parts for the Te Deum have gone off to Southbank Sinfonia, along with all the arrangements for the forthcoming Parliament Choir concert, and, after the slightest of wobbles last week, it was sounding very good indeed on Monday, and one noble Lord bounced up to me, poked me in the chest and said “it’s really good!” – very important indeed to me that the choir for which it was written enjoys it.

That performance will be on the 25th, and on the 22nd the choir at Christ Church, Hampstead will premiere the Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis on Eb.  Both this and the Te Deum are, I think, good pieces, and I am very much looking forward to hearing them in the flesh and then, hopefully, pushing them out into the world for consideration for further performances.

Into December is carol season, of course, and it looks as though The Angel Gabriel, We Three Kings and Sweet Was The Song will all be making festive appearances during the month, and I am also arranging a couple of things for the Parliament Choir Christmas concert, which follows hard on the heels of the Cadogan Hall concert.  Busy season, indeed.

Around and about all this are two further pieces, one for Cantores Salicium, which I hope to get finished properly over the next week or so, and another which is a new commission for a song for soprano and piano.  After all the non-compositional activities of the past month or two, I am really looking forward to getting my teeth back into some proper writing, especially as I feel as though there is something instrumental in me waiting to come out.  Without a suitable commission it will probably manifest itself in a competition entry, but there is definitely something there, also a whisper of another Mag & Nunc, maybe, just maybe.

Tomorrow, though (today, as I write this), is the first anniversary of the completion on the Somerset house, and I would have to say that it has been one of my wiser decisions.  Many miles have been covered and much money spent over the past year putting things in place and sorting out everything that needed to be done, but, as I sit here in the quiet of the night, local beer in hand and F1 practice on the iPlayer, it is not a bad idea to reflect awhile.  Tomorrow we’ll be off to market and then finding a suitable way to celebrate, probably involving food and wine.  After such a busy patch and so much time away from home, it is time for me and mine.