Well, I’m still sharpening pencils and today I have managed to tie up a lot of loose ends which would otherwise niggle away while I am trying to get down to the heart of the matter. I actually managed to create the Finale file where the Impulse Edition of the new work will be published – that is a statement of intent! Tomorrow evening I’m going to lead a ‘Summer Sing’ with the choir who are commissioning the work – the Islington Choral Society. This is a great idea, (which could only be put into action by those completely passionate about their singing), whereby, those unfortunate souls left behind while others prance about en vacances, gather together under the batons of guest conductors to explore some new repertoire. This is particularly good from my point of view as it gives me a chance to get acquainted with the musicians for whom I am writing and their ways of working. I also get to hear something of their strengths and weaknesses, abhorrences and passions, too! I’m going to work with them on breathing, articulating, listening and feeling (well that will all get done in 30 minutes, won’t it!!) and then lay on them a little gem of a choral piece by Grieg which I heard performed a couple of months back by the choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor – entirely captivating. It is Grieg’s setting of Ave Maris Stella, edited by my good mate, John Rutter.
Now I absolutely cannot write today without referring to an experience about which I feel intensely passionate – last night’s Prom concert. Anybody out there hear it? A chunky programme full of promise with Brahms, Elgar and Strauss (Richard) on offer. The band was the RPO, but I cannot believe what was done to them in rehearsal to produce such extraordinarily inappropriate interpretations. The playing was fine and heartfelt but to my ears, completely off the interpretative radar: Brahms, whimsical and over-sweetly full of vibrato and this was the St Anthony Variations for goodness sake – variations on a theme by Haydn. I hoped for better in the Enigma Variations, but the performance was so precious and placed and saccharine, I could barely listen; as well as the tempi being up the shoot – Nimrod was so slow I thought he’d fallen asleep – so much for the mighty hunter. Regrettably, so much of this had stuck in the craw to the extent that I couldn’t hang in there to listen to the Strauss Oboe Concerto – my loss I fear. I’ll make myself feel better by giving you a link to all the oboe music we have on tutti.
Sorry to moan, but really, Brahms and Elgar are Saxons, not Siamese (no offence to anyone oriental intended!) I’ll let you know how I get on with the Islington bunch, but not ’til Wednesday.