In many ways it has been a slow start to the year and I have found it difficult to get my motivation up and running, although I think at least part of that has been down to enjoying the quiet period after Christmas, having a proper break. Of course, the period before Christmas was not as busy as it might have been, but there was still a decent amount to get done.

Since a few days into the new year the diary has become more active, and today really marks the beginning of things getting back to as they should be, and I am cautiously optimistic that matters might actually stay that way. Bookings that I thought might have been based on shifting sands have instead been confirmed, and it looks like full speed ahead. Better still, I find myself in a calm and relaxed place, more so than I have been for some years. Maybe it is being over fifty, maybe it is the sabbatical, maybe it has been the chance to step back, but it is there.

Today also marks the first proper step on my new cantata, Sight Adjusts Itself To Darkness, which is sort of about the pandemic. I mean, it is about the pandemic in many ways, but it is more about how we react to physical and mental adversity. Very little dates as badly as fashion, and I would really like this piece to be available for performance in more situations than simply after or towards the end of a pandemic, so it is built to be both specific and general, if that makes any sense.

At the moment the choral parts are nearly complete, although there is a great deal of refinement still to come, but there is definitely enough to start with tonight. Some of the music is quite angular – intentionally so – in what I have written, but the plan is for it to make sense once the whole is in place. As an aside, I was fascinated to find that the very first phrase the singers have could have been used as an example in Deryck Cooke’s The Language Of Music, in which he argued that composers, consciously or unconsciously, have a repertoire of gestures to fall back on when trying to express things, and I can confirm that it was definitely unconscious here, but it is certainly present.

Hopefully – no, make that definitely – tonight’s rehearsal will be the push I need to get fully back into things, and I was also encouraged to read an article this weekend by an author whose thoughts on creativity ally almost exactly with mine, so I must be doing something right. I know that I need to push off from the holiday shore and set sail once more, and I know also that hearing the new cantata come to life will be exactly the thing I need to get me moving.