It says something, I am sure, when I cannot even stick to my now-weekly blogging schedule, but at least this time it was due to having too much on rather than too little to write about. In fact, had I been so minded I could probably gone back to daily entries for a while last week, but I am sure that the world can get by just fine without my daily spamming alongside Black Friday, Cyber Monday and whatever other adjective/day-of-the-week combo they will come up with next.

After the giddy heights of the Bach concert the Parliament Choir were back in action at the start of the week to begin rehearsing for our Christmas concert at St. John’s, Smith Square which, Omicron permitting, will still go ahead. Among other delights we will be performing three of my carols, and although everything looks threadbare when compared with – well, any Bach at all, really, I have to say that there are occasional moments of nifty writing in my pieces, a little bit of imitation here or motivic trickery there that at which Bach himself might perhaps not have snorted too loudly. Maybe I get ahead of myself but, to be honest, the pieces are holding up well, and they are already sounding good.

Sweet Was The Song is the old stager, something we know very well indeed and which we have performed many times in different incarnations, while my arrangement of We Three Kings has become something that we leave out at our peril. I fear that when all the dust has settled I might just be remembered for this, but it has some good moments in it, especially in the final verse, so better to be remembered for that than not at all, if that is the choice. My favourite, though, is The Oxen, mainly because Hardy’s poem is just so, so atmospheric and beautiful, but also because my response to it feels more or less right. There are some moments that make me smile a little, such as the handbrake turn from E# minor (yes, really) back to the home key, but I happen to think it is a decent piece, effective in its simplicity and with some good corners in the writing. Don’t just take my word for it, though – grab a free download via the links if you like.

There were also RetroChic and Soul City Foundation rehearsals, both bands being out and about and gigging in the next fortnight, though the former group is a man down after a positive Covid test – thankfully we have found a decent replacement. I feel very nervy that the run to Christmas might just fall apart professionally, but at least I am doing my bit, masked and triple-jabbed and steering clear of coughers and snorters as much as I can. Music has returned so well and so healthily, despite being more or less silenced recently, that the thought of going back to that Cromwellian quiet perturbs me.

The week ended with an Advent service at Mary Abbots (I played Bach, of course), which was a delight, and some good things elsewhere as well. I even managed to do a few stints of work on the new cantata, which is beginning to fall into a well-defined shape, and am excited about some ideas which will incorporate the spoken word alongside the music, making the piece specific to a single occasion while still, in theory, enabling it to be performed elsewhere. Busy times.