We had a run through of the latest version of A Certain Everlasting Polyphony at the Parliament Choir rehearsal on Monday evening, and it confimed two things in my mind that I had already expected. Firstly, and without any doubt, this current version is by far the best and the most musically satisfying; secondly, the Parliament Choir shows no fear whatsoever when confronted with my latest outpourings, but instead throws itself into sight-reading this new stuff with enthusiasm.
The second of these two realisations is deeply pleasing, and for several reasons. Quite apart from the fact that I know that I can continue to write demanding music for the choir in the knowledge that they will sing it well, it is also warm and fuzzy to know that they will simply get on and dive in to anything of mine that is put in front of them.
That level of trust that the choir has in its composer is never something that I take for granted, and the fact that the piece is currently on its third incarnation is testament to the fact that the very last thing that I want to do is to put something that I believe to be substandard and shoddy in front of them. The first reaction I always hope for with performers of my music is one of curiosity, that idea that there is more to discover, and it seemed that this was present on Monday night.
People were also genuinely interested about the text by Johannes Kepler, and the whys and wherefores of its choosing, but also about the musical style and quite why it felt the way it did (Messiaen’s second mode of limited transposition, since you ask, chosen by accident rather than design). I could speak for hours about the musical choices involved in a composition such as this, often do in my head, but it suffices for now to know that those thousands of tiny decisions have resulted in something that seems to be on the right track.
The piece was on the fragmentary side at rehearsal, let’s say, and I felt I little like the builder who attaches a hose to something before telling you that your kitchen that looks like a tip is fine to use, and then disappears for a week. Been there, done that, and let’s not talk about the money still owed.
For now, though, I am ploughing on with the piece, adding in details that became clearer on Monday night in rehearsal. The luxury of being able to road test a piece in progress with a decent choir is also something I never take for granted, and has a huge influence on the outcome of the piece, but that is for another blog entry, for the piece and the book, of course, await on my desk, pleasures for the day.