If this blog goes quiet for a couple of days midweek it is normally a sure sign either that I am very busy or that I have managed to get practically nothing at all done. Sometimes those two things coincide when there are non-musical things on the timetable which then mean that the composition gets pushed aside, such as in the past couple of days.
I also had a real What is it all for? moment on Wednesday evening when I ended up asking myself once again what the purpose of writing an orchestral piece might be, given that there are no concerts, rehearsals or concerts about at the moment. I had a long think, drifted off into sleep, and, upon waking, reminded myself once more that it is better to have an orchestral piece ready to go for when the time comes than not.
Since then I have moved on to the final section of the work, leaving the slow area unfinished for the time being in order to find out where it should be leading, and so far the material has been easy to come and fairly strong and dynamic. As ever, the quality may dip when I run out of ideas but hopefully I will be able to craft myself out of that moment when it comes.
Meanwhile things remain tough out there for musicians, and Sheffield Cathedral took what I think was a really nasty and underhand decision to disband their entire choir and music department a couple of days ago which, for all the guff on their official page, stinks to high heaven, appropriately enough. Congratulations, guys, on trying to reinvent the music provision at the Cathedral by sacking all your musicians, to say nothing of the impact the decision will have on the children who enjoy(ed) singing there. Four music directors in five years would speak for itself, were it not for the fact that some choir parents are also very keen to make themselves heard, former musicians too.
Unfortunately, whenever this ends up in the papers those who love choral music are referred to as ‘traditionalists’, but many of these Cathedrals, such at St. George’s, where I used to work, offer unparalleled opportunities to children and families who have no other music provision in their lives, and for whom the joys that it has to offer – physical, mental and spiritual – are revelatory. In the light of all this you can maybe imagine why it is tough to keep putting notes on paper – orchestral music for non-existent orchestras, sacred music for disbanded choirs – but on we must, even if some of those in charge appear to view the baby in the bathwater as an inconvenience.