Yesterday I was in Corfe Castle for a concert at the local church, an evening of opera with plenty of deaths and plots and schemes, some gorgeous music as well, Puccini, Verdi, Massenet and Saint-Saens. All that drama fitted well with the view of the castle appearing out of the mist as I drove into the town, so much higher in the sky than one expects it to be.
Even the ruins are impressive now, and I would not have liked to be told by my superior in years past to run up the hill and have a go at attacking it, because my chances of survival, let alone success, would have been ridiculously slim. Still, like so many other previously impregnable fortresses, time has turned the unimaginable into history, and now the half-term visitors wander happily around what once was designed to exclude.
With that concert done, the day ahead is one of those things that I used to have but had nearly forgotten – a day that I can devote almost entirely to composition and its associated activities. There is some necessary administration to be done, but most of the large projects of recent days, weeks and months are at least temporarily on hold, meaning that I can stick a few notes on paper, maybe research a competition or two, and keep up with the day to day aspects of writing.
When I initially made the leap away from teaching I often had days like this, and they were the norm rather than the exception, but other chunks of work have recently come to crowd in on that initial focus. Most of it is very good and worthwhile, but it always feels good to get back to pencil, paper and a quiet few hours.
The main priority today is to make some serious progress on the three songs for mezzo and piano. One of these is quite far advanced, but the other two are much further behind than I had hoped they would be by this stage. Although the deadline for these is reasonably fluid, I had initially aimed to have them finished by the end of May. Clearly that is not going to happen, but mid-June would be good, and maybe I could celebrate their completion by spending a day out in Corfe as explorer rather than accompanist.