The most significant musical moment of the week for me came at 4.36 on Wednesday afternoon when, after nearly three years of work, or, more accurately, about a year of work with several long breaks, I finally reached the final bar in my first orchestration of the symphony. It is ragged around the edges and lacks many of the fine details that it will gain over the coming weeks but, in theory, it could now be played with a tame orchestra. I got a little (but only a little) emotional and then downed tools for the afternoon, having spent all day on the thing.
Overall I really do have a feeling that the piece is not too bad, and I even suspect that the end is pretty punchy, but, for the moment, I shall be satisfied with not thinking that the symphony is terrible. Now begins the process of polishing, polishing again and polishing some more, because I want it to be in the best possible state before I take the bold/crazy step of putting it under the noses of various people who might be interested in this kind of thing.
After crashing through deadline after deadline and often flailing away with no real sense of direction, I really would now like to get the piece finished by the middle of April, which would mark three years since I began work on it. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, a piece born of and reflecting the pandemic, so I would like to send it out into the world while it still has some relevance, even if I think it has the potential to survive as music on its own terms. Certainly, going back to orchestrate the final moments of the piece brings back all sorts of memories, not least that long pondering about whether the music would fall away at the end into darkness or instead fight back into the light.
Appropriately enough, on Sunday morning in Wells Cathedral the University of London Church Choir, conducted by Sally Martin-Brown, gave the second performance of my O Nata Lux, which was the first time I had heard it in the flesh. I will freely admit that Wells Cathedral has the kind of acoustic that makes composers sound good, but I still felt that the piece worked well. In fact, I played three services at Wells last week, which was a great deal of fun.
On Sunday afternoon, with Evensong done, I turned the car eastwards and took the Occam Singers for their latest rehearsal, and our concert takes place on Saturday 4th March in Guildford and promises to be excellent, so please do consider coming if you possibly can. Like the symphony, the Occams have come out of the pandemic refusing to fall away into darkness, and I have spent a great deal of time over the past weeks thinking about how we might best approach the rest of this year, so that by 2024 we are on a really solid footing once more, and your attendance at our concert would really help. Whether in this, or in the many, many questions about the symphony and other pieces, your interest and support are never taken for granted, always appreciated.