Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Treat him well, he is your brother

London has been basking in an unseasonable heat-wave today. Temperatures have been in the late 20s, the trees are still green and vibrant, and it feels like summer all over again. I found myself writing music on Hampstead Heath in the late afternoon. It felt good to be back there. I’ve been neglecting the place of late.

Fiona is back in town, and we had coffee at my favourite cafe, whilst I sent hundreds of emails to hundreds of people. There’s much organising to be done. For those who read this blog who tell me off for not pre-warning them about interesting events, I have two dates for your diary.

Firstly, October 13th, when my partner, Nathan, is premiering his “singing monk” cabaret at The Pheasantry on the King’s Road. The cabaret is called Brother Act and The Pheasantry is a Pizza Express. You pay £12, and then sit and watch various acts whilst stuffing your face with carbs – if you’re feeling hungry. The food costs extra, obviously, but it’s well worth a visit, because over the course of the night you’ll see four contrasting cabaret acts, some of which are incredible, whilst others will make you howl with laughter for all the wrong reasons! It’s the latter acts that I love the most...

The second date for your diary is November 27th. I cordially invite you all to celebrate my 15th anniversary of being a professional composer with a retrospective concert of my work at St Mary at Hill Church in the City of London. The work will feature a string quartet and a16-voice choir, and will culminate in a premier of two of the movements from my Requiem. We will also be performing the controversial work I wrote for the choir in Lincolnshire, so you can see for yourselves what a work “lacking in soul” actually sounds like. For the members of the choir who are still reading this blog - a big hello - I do hope you’ll also come along. It was, after all, written especially for you and I’d love you to finally hear the work...

We collected our car from the garage this afternoon, having struck the deal that we’d pay for the broken parts if they did the labour for free. It felt like an honourable compromise, although it cost me over £200 and the steering wheel still makes a proper racket when it’s on full lock. Ironically this was the problem that we initially thought would fail the MOT. £1500 of work on other parts of the car and the original problem’s still not fixed!

We’ve just returned from the Landour theatre in Clapham where we saw Ragtime. It was an astonishing experience. The Landour is a tiny little fringe space which can only seat 60 or so, and yet there were 21 people on the stage - a tiny little stage - singing and acting their absolute socks off. It was an extraordinary visceral experience, which had me in tears within minutes.

With the exception of one actor, who was doing "telly acting" and was completely inaudible throughout, the cast was magnificent. Particular hats off to Jonny Barr, Judith Parrish and Kurt Kamsley. For those who don’t know Ragtime, it’s a remarkable score, which I realised for the first time tonight, is one of the greatest musicals of the last 30 years. Strangely, I remember seeing it in the West End 8 or so years ago, and not being hugely impressed. This year has been very interesting for me. Twice in the last two months, I’ve found myself needing to reappraise a musical. Furthermore, I find myself almost constantly reappraising the concept of the London Fringe. One of the reasons why the show left me so cold in the West End was that it was in a barn of a space where the intimacy of the writing vanished into a puff of proscenium arch. If there’s a good side to this recession, it’s that it’s forcing people to re-examine creativity. People can’t expect to get rich any more – but that doesn’t mean we have to be rubbish... far from it. We simply have to be inventive and give younger people and harder workers opportunities to shine, because from invention, exciting things grow.

Saturday September 28th, 1661, and Pepys, like me, went to the theatre. He saw a play called Father’s Own Son at the King’s Theatre and enjoyed it thoroughly. He spent the evening drinking... unlike me, although as I write this, Nathan is preparing a hot chocolate! Yummmmmmm

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