Not for the first time it feels pointless to be writing about something as luxurious as creating music when we are in the midst of some of the most uncertain moments of our lifetimes, so let me say this clearly and distinctly – I have no doubt that this is Putin’s war, not Russia’s, and I have nothing but admiration and respect for the bravery and dogged determination of Ukrainians defending their free and democratic country, and also for the Russians who have come out to protest in their own country, knowing that they will be arrested for doing so. All we can do from here is support.

Back in ivory tower land I continued work on the cantata, probably having assumed at the back of my mind that a large-scale piece about the pandemic would be it as far as seismic global events in my lifetime were concerned, but not so. I am currently working on the solo movements, and I think that they are progressing well as I continue to make pass after pass in order to keep refining the rough edges.

It has been a little tricky to get work in, partially because my attention has been on events hundreds of miles away, scrolling through the updates for positive signs, but also because, contrary to how things would normally be, work is very busy at the moment. Be in no doubt that this is a good thing, especially after the Cromwellian interlude of the past two years, but it has still come as something of a surprise.

So, apart from the writing there was playing, including three services on Sunday, the first of which featured a fortuitously appropriate movement from MessiahHow beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace. We had chosen it a few weeks ago, but it was only in the performance that the relevance of the words hit me, and I had to remind myself to focus, not let myself be drawn into the emotion of the thing.

Music, of course, is powerful stuff, and all it takes is a flag and a song and you can get people to do all sorts of things that they would not otherwise do. It may seem fruitless to write at a time like this, but that precise freedom to write is what characterises life in free societies, and not for nothing is expressive art shut down as one of the first acts of tyrannical regimes, along with free, objective reporting and the right to protest. Value what you have and support those who would have it taken away from them against their will.

🇺🇦