I am not quite back home yet, but at least the running will be done for a while when I do get back. Yesterday evening Cantores Salicium, directed by Lindy Williams, gave the first performance of Levavi Oculos in a beautiful and measured manner to a capacity audience at the wonderful Bolton Abbey. It was a bit of a trek to be with the choir last night,but to one of my favourite parts of the world, and the drive back to London was punctuated by diversions – at one point I thought that, like Richard III, I might be forever stuck in Leicester – but it was worth the journey. Cantores produce a really lovely and blended sound, and they stay bang in tune as well, and it was wonderful to be with some very talented younger musicians as well, very much at the starts of their careers, and I look forward to hearing much more of them. This morning, after barely five hours of sleep, I was at Mary Abbots, for some wonderful Philips, Hassler and Victoria, and this evening we have Monteverdi, Handel and Perti. I thought that by now I would be struggling to keep my eyes open, but the adrenaline is clearly working its magic, so on we go until the evening, I hope.
France, France (again), Italy and Yorkshire out of the way it is time to settle down just a little and breathe in some calm air, catch up on things and put my house into just a little more order. It has been a productive time for my music, certainly in terms of performances, and I am keen to get back to the old pencil-on-paper stuff as soon as I can. There is what could turn into quite a large piece on the sketching desk at the moment, and it would be good to have details of this firmed up sooner rather than later.
As I drove back yesterday, in search of some kind of company on the long trek to London, I listened in to the forever baffling Eurovision Song Contest, thankfully missing the songs themselves, but still listening to the voting results, which seemed to take me from Yorkshire to Watford Gap (and that included Leicester). Apparently, thanks to some arcane voting system, Ukraine beat Australia (must look that place up on my map of Europe) into second place with a song about the Stalinist purges, and I cannot help thinking today that Shostakovich could have saved himself all of that distillation of the very essence of human suffering into forged-from-blood works such as the Eighth String Quartet or the Tenth Symphony if he had just tossed off some three-minute ballad and stuck it in front of two hundred million folks with access to phones and a voting number. The people on the radio sounded utterly confused by the result, let alone be able to work out how to explain what had led to it, so I retreated to the latest Queensryche album which, while way too loud and heavy for most (even for a joke Eurovision entry), nonetheless represents a decent return to form for a band I first saw perform back when Eurovision still consisted of European countries, the song Eye9 even featuring three overlapping and conflicting time signatures. Good stuff.