The final concert of this year’s Anghiari Festival opened with the premiere of my short orchestral work Brindisi, commissioned by Southbank Sinfonia to celebrate the fifteenth year of the Festival. If I am not yet on record as saying that this piece was a tough one to write then I should be.
From the very start of the discussions with SBS we knew that the piece should take advantage of some of the features of Piazza del Popolo, where it was to be performed, but I now know that I went in with ambitiously unrealistic ideas that needed to be pared back.
Where I think I made the right decision, though, was in the flexibility that was written into the piece, allowing for larger or smaller groups of players to be placed in different areas. Eventually we went with two offstage trumpets in a balcony and both clarinets beginning in the bar – yes, really.
The piece was meant to be light and frothy, a fun way to begin the concert, but it is hard to gauge how funny something is when you are deep in serious rehearsal, harder still to write something that might hopefully be funny and subtle at the same time. In the end there were chuckles aplenty and people picked up on the references, some of which I had feared would never be recognised.
The clarinets in particular were a hit, joining in as they staggered back onstage as if inebriated. That was the performance direction I gave them in the score, after all, and I can only assume that they researched it with professionalism.