Into the busiest patch of the year so far as I write, but also one of the most satisfying. There are two commissions on the table, both of which would offer challenges in very different ways and both of which, obstacles permitting, would be fun to write. I am in that middle ground of post-proposal and pre-confirmation, so little more yet to say on these, but it is handy to have some interest after a quiet period. One would be a short orchestral work and the other something more lengthy for narrator and solo instrument, so at different ends of the spectrum, but I already have ideas on paper for both.
I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some great music making over the past few days. On Friday I played for Alison Balsom in Deal and on Saturday I was back with the very fine Anton Bruckner Choir in London, running my fingers over some Langlais and Duruflé. For the time being (meaning until next week) that is it for concerts, although I very nearly got my foot in the musical door down in the West this week, which would have been very useful indeed. I have not actively sought work down here because I want to spend time writing and enjoying my life (it’s later than you think and all that) but I’d happily throw myself into a concert or two if it were offered.
Playing for Alison was one of those “need to enjoy this while I’m here” moments, akin to when JEBO played the Apollo. You never know if or when those opportunities will come around again, and as an accompanist you always have that little fear at the back of your mind that you might get something terribly wrong and, in so doing, let your soloist or choir down badly, and I was just a little more nervy than usual as I headed into the second page of our Vivaldi concerto, but I chanted my mantra to myself (I’m slightly tongue in cheek about this, but I do talk to myself at times if I feel things getting more flighty than usual) and all was fine. The audiences on Friday and Saturday also seemed to enjoy themselves, and that kind of communication is what music really should be all about.
I spent a riotous evening in London last week with my tenant. He has been going through a tricky time, so I thought it important to show up and offer some support, and I found him in much better form than I had expected. The night was long and much was put away in terms of convivial refreshment, so memories are a little hazy, but it was fun, even if a trip back to Mitcham is more depressing than pointing the car towards Somerset. Sorry Mitcham, that’s just the way it is.
Writing-wise I have been sketching ideas for these two new commissions so that they can fire ahead easily if and when they are confirmed, and I have also tucked away a couple of small bits of arranging as well. Still with writing, but with a different kind I have been asked to write an article for an American magazine, although maybe I should whisper that this is about games rather than music, an interesting development. The work/play balance of my life seems to be quite nicely poised at present, even if it sways through the year with the winds of work, and being asked to write an article such as this is something I never expected might happen, but it is surprising what can occur when you put your mind to things. Patience and persistence, as somebody once said to me.
I can’t ignore the entry in my diary for last Friday, though, telling me that it has been two years since Nick Gale died. I think about him a lot – and I mean a lot – and not just when I instinctively add his name to the list when looking for a dep, but also when I want to share some particularly juicy piece of gossip I know would tickle him, or just to have a chat. He is much missed and for many, many reasons, and even after driving all around the country and getting back to London very late on Friday night I raised a small glass to him. Well, actually it was a very large glass…
But on. I almost forgot to mention that The Lord Is My Light will be performed in New York next month, which is wonderful news. I wonder at times what it would take to break into the American market, and have asked people who know, but I would think that it comes down fundamentally to the same things as forging a career in composing, accompanying or, say, writing about board games. You just need to keep going and be in the right position to take advantage of the break when it comes. As somebody said, luck is preparation given an opportunity, or, in the words of Churchill, Never, never, never give up. Many times over the past days have I found myself in what I would term “a good place”, happy with the work I am doing and with the playing and writing I am producing. I am also investing fully in my credo of surrounding myself with the people I love and working for the people I admire, and it is a beautifully clear way of living.