Two new pieces of mine were dragged into the world last Monday evening. Within the embrace of the M25 the Parliament Choir got their teeth into Tu Es Petrus while, pretty much simultaneously, Cantores Salicium achieved lift off with Levavi Oculos a few hundred miles further north. Both pieces appear to have been received well by the choirs, which is good news, and I hope that there is enough depth in my writing to keep the performers interested in the time before the first performances. I have been looking at my technique a little in the last few days, mainly because there is nothing particularly pressing on the composing table, the orchestration of Petrus apart, and fiddling with a few ideas, probably better suited to instrumental than to vocal music, it must be said, but it is good to be forging ahead in any case.
I have been enjoying my trips back into the past, listening to the music of the composers of Notre Dame, and also reading about the musical issues of that day. Christopher Page’s book The Owl And The Nightingale, about attitudes to music in France from 1100-1300, is something I bought as a keen student and never really understood enough to read (or perhaps read enough to understand), but it has proven to be thoroughly enjoyable company over the past week, enlightening in all kinds of ways about those shadowy figures of eight hundred years ago.
I must be in a calm place at the moment, finding the time to read books and hone my compositional technique, and this despite a couple of pressing issues on the domestic front. In charge of the music at a London church on Sunday morning, I took the loss of 40% of the choir, so three singers present instead of the expected five, pretty much in my stride, even if it did mean that Walton’s lovely Set Me As A Seal went unperformed. If you are in charge of a situation and can deal with the worst that it offers then it becomes much easier to be tickety-boo about the whole thing. Being just a little ahead with work helps too.