It was a week that was heavy on the making of music and significantly lighter on the creating of music, so while I was able to put a few short stints of work together on the symphony I was rather more involved in various concerts, a sure sign that the annual beginning-of-year lull is over. In the end it made for a busy weekend, but with some really outstanding musical moments, the kind of things that reminded me of what life as a musician can be.
Most of the week was taken up with final preparations for the Occam Singers concert on Saturday evening, including a Thursday evening rehearsal. Normally on a concert day I clear the decks and wait for the last minute items to drop into my messages, but everything was so well organised that the only moment of forgetfulness had been my own, but thankfully somebody happened to have a spare music stand, which meant that I ended up having both hands free to conduct.
The concert was, I think, a huge success, and the choir performed right at the very top of their ability and seemed to enjoy it too, but I have always known that the Occams are capable of high-quality singing, and was delighted to be reminded of just that fact on Saturday evening. We had two stellar pianists as well, and a decent-sized audience which included several friends I have not seen for a while, so it was a really inspiring event. One audience member posted on Twitter to say that the singing was “exquisitely expressive” and I think that I would have to agree.
The previous evening I had been playing for a Mozart and Bach rehearsal with a group I have not been with since before the pandemic, so that was another joyous return, while on Sunday morning our four singers at Hampstead tackled some tricky Palestrina (one of his earlier works, I suspect) in a church that was so cold we could see our breath on the air. At certain points in the hymns I could have sworn that I could no longer feel my fingers, but I am a veteran of that legendary Parliament Choir concert in Prague when it was -14 Celsius in the cathedral so chilly British mornings hold no real fears any more.
After that it was off to Mabbots for a gentle Evensong, although I did get to play Bach’s eloquently painful O Mensch bewein, which was a great way to round off a few days of intensive work, and then I headed home and did a bit of beweining over the Formula One, as it already looks like yet another very long year for Ferrari fans. With Lent now well under way things quieten down a little at Hampstead for a few weeks, and the Occams have some time off before we reconvene for our next concert (Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle, 8th July, since you ask), so it really is time to get back to the symphony.