Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Requiem Aeternam

I'm in a chip shop in York, waiting for a pizza al funghi, which I'm expecting to taste and look like a slab of plastic covered in ketchup. I was drawn into this stinking hell-hole by gnawing hunger pains, and Dolly Parton playing on the radio!

It's wonderful to be back in York.
I adore this city. It's rammed with extraordinary memories, which rush into my brain like a tidal wave, almost every time I turn a corner. There's a perpetual cini-film running in the back of my mind. I can see myself as an 18 year-old, rolling down the mound at Clifford's Tower on an icy November evening, and then as a ten year-old in The Shambles, searching for a broomstick for a Hallowe'en party. 25 years later, I'm weeping like an old queen whilst the carillon in the Minster plays the Adagio from A Symphony for Yorkshire.  

And it's the symphony which has brought me back here again. We've been rehearsing for the O2 Media awards. The symphony isn't actually up for anything; there aren't any categories that it could have been entered for, but we've been asked to play the third movement as the mid-awards entertainment, which is obviously an honour. I've scored the piece as a sort of unplugged version, and we've been rehearsing with about half the musicians in Hull tonight. It's such a privilege to be working with the lads from Circus Envy again. They're such fine musicians. I think tomorrow's performance could be electrifying. If the sound guys do their bit..

I've been working on the all-important Introit from my Requiem, which includes the first statement of that hugely familiar phrase "Requiem Aeternam, dona eis domine." (Try writing that with predictive text!) I've got a corking theme, which was surprisingly painful to write. Requiems are so sad! 

I'm aware that I'm putting an astonishing amount of pressure on myself to write this piece. Maybe it's because I keep wondering if it will be played at my own funeral, and used to sum up my life in music. I'm at a stage where nothing I'm writing feels quite good enough. I keep comparing it to other music and wondering if it will hold its ground. I guess a composer can only write what works for him, and simply hope that others will find it appealing. It comes out as it comes out. 

Earlier today I found myself in the Minster whilst its amazing choir sang something for the evensong service. I was alone in the back of the cathedral and could only hear them through an ornate wooden rude screen. It was as though the intricate carvings were actually singing to me. I was literally surrounded by heavenly music. 

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