So here we are in the new year, and it seems like a sensible point to look back at the end of 2022 now that all the bustle has died down a little. I had a good run of performances in the last section of the year, with premières of O Nata Lux, Adam Lay Ybounden and Kai Se Vam Zdi, while there were also outings for Gabriel, That Angel Bright and The Angel Gabriel. Several encouraging comments as well, which were good to hear.

I had forgotten in all that Covid stuff quite how busy and full-on a proper Christmas can be, and there was a little stress around the edges as the trusty Audi decided to breathe its last, which triggered all the bother of trying to find change down the back of the sofa to pay for for a new set of wheels that would prove to be reliable for all those journeys up and down the A303 but also, after three years of rather expensive petrol bills, just that little bit cheaper to run. In the end I opted for something a little more sensible, and it arrived just before Christmas Day, a present to myself, if one that I needed to buy and which blew a hole right through my budget.

I took a little time off but have been back at the keyboard for a few days now, tapping away on a new piece for a competition while continuing to work on the symphony and on another orchestral piece. I did go through one of those patches at the end of the year of being entirely out of compositional energy, but, as usual, it only took a half hour of sitting back down with pencil and paper for the creative juices to begin flowing once more, even if with a new piece it always proves difficult to get past the inevitable but necessary this-is-rubbish stage to the point where one can get to writing something vaguely polished.

The commitments of the festive season have knocked my compositional schedule a little out of kilter, which means that the competition piece, which I had hoped would be fully sketched by now, is running very late indeed and also up against a tight deadline. In many ways I feel that I should not be writing it, for the odds are definitely against its winning anything, but the calendar looks fairly clear for the next few weeks, especially when compared with December, so I hope that there is time enough to spare for me to get something decent written.

I also feel that I can use this piece as a test bed for one or two other things that I have on the desk at the moment, that it will enable me to run some ideas and work them out prior to using them elsewhere, always assuming that the piece eventually finds its way back to me with a thanks-but-no-thanks attached. I mean, it could win – that has happened with some of my pieces in the past – but that would always be a bonus, and the value of the work needs to be found in the work itself, the decisions made and the lessons learned.

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