Another day of Advent and another couple of carol services around London yesterday, although thankfully both were in Kensington and both were relaxing plays. The first was for a school for which I have now worked through three Directors of Music, and when the email arrived earlier this term from the new incumbent I had assumed that the previous occupant of the post had moved on to a shinier job.

I have got on with all three of the DoMs well, but the second had an especially infectious sense of fun and was totally lacking in self-importance, both qualities that I admire deeply, so I was sad that he had gone without my being able to say goodbye. I was therefore delighted to see him at yesterday’s service, although it was immediately apparent that he was less than his former self, and he told me that he had suffered a severe stroke only a few days after we last worked with each other in December of last year. He is recovering as well as can be expected, and I was very glad to see him again, delighted that his first reaction upon seeing me was to give me a fulsome hug.

At Mary Abbots in the evening The Oxen was given its second performance, and I heard whispers that the third might even have followed within an hour or so at Clement Danes. With the fourth lined up for lunchtime today it has had a good start in the world, although putting it in front of a new group of singers means that my proof reading has been shown up to be only around 98% accurate, so I updated the score and made sure that the download version was similarly amended. I should, I suppose, post the download link here, so if you would like to grab a totally free copy then click here.

In the gap between the two services I did a little more study, reading up on various harmonic and melodic techniques and making sure that the concepts actually stood a chance of remaining in my head rather than going in through one ear and out through the other. I intend to put these notions into practice before the weekend so that what I have absorbed on the page is applied to the page in a proper manner.

A full day of music making it was, then, with the added pleasure of seeing somebody that I thought I might not bump into again. Even if he has had the roughest of years if was wonderful to be able to wish him the best and to let him know how much he has been missed.