The Bath Responses were performed at St. Mary Abbots on Sunday morning, beautifully too, by six upper voices, and directed by Mark Uglow. It has been some time since these have had an outing, and I avoided looking at the score in order to surprise myself a little in the hearing of them, but they have aged well and still sound good. They were first performed by the girls of St. George’s on their tour to Bath, and I think of the piece every time I am near the Abbey there, which, I am glad to say, is often, although nowadays as a happy-go-lucky visitor, rather than somebody with obligations to fulfil.
My new piece for the Parliament Choir is on the starting blocks at the moment, a setting of Tu Es Petrus for which I have gone right back to the music of Perotin, over eight hundred years old. We like to think of music as following some inevitable trajectory of progress, that music written that long ago must, by its very nature, be less complicated and accomplished than that written today, but that is a dangerous assumption to make and, at least in this case, wrong. When I was at college one sought more or less in vain for decent recordings, but now there are many which are only the click of a mouse away, and the treatment of rhythm, melody, harmony and even form are quite eye-opening if you think that those people struggled to put together a few seconds of music. Imagine that kind of sound wafting through the air at a place like Notre Dame, where Perotin is believed to have worked, and you can understand why contemporary critics were so amazed and frightened by its potency. Quite something to have your music live on over eight hundred years after it was written.
An acquaintance on the net is running a project during February called 4Weeks/4Pieces, an attempt to get those interested in composition up and running and scribbling away. Happily for me, I have enough to be getting on with, but if you are aware of anybody who might consider getting involved, then please do publicise the link and pass on the word. This is the first time that this particular project has run, but it looks as though it could be the equivalent of a creative push for those who are considering doing some writing.