Friday, 21 October 2011

I let the music speak

I've just had an incredibly charming and productive day in York. I came up to discuss a very exciting choral project, which could see up to 500 singers performing a specially written composition in various locations across the city.

I arrived here just before 10am, and immediately experienced a rush of the feeling I have every time I enter Yorkshire. It feels like coming home. I like the people up here. I like that they're open and welcoming. I also like the fact that an unusually high percentage of people up here seem to know, and respect my work. I introduced myself to someone at the Theatre Royal, who merely said "I know exactly who you are!" Introduce yourself to someone in a London theatre and they immediately  look over your shoulder to see if there's someone in the room who can better assist them with their career!

My companion on this project is called Stephen and I hugely enjoyed spending time with him. He's a Mancunian who was adopted as a baby, and recently tracked down a half-sister, which, of course had huge resonance for me, having relatively recently gained my own Mancunian half-brother.

We walked and walked around York looking at potential locations and talked and talked about life and creativity and the exciting task in hand.

In the evening I was able to meet representatives from some of the choirs who will, fingers crossed, be joining us on this potentially thrilling journey. I hope we were able to inspire them. I certainly managed to inspire myself!

At the end of the session, two lovely ladies, both staff at the University, came to introduce themselves to me. We talked about the good old days and then they asked if I'd be prepared to come in and talk to some of the composition students, which felt like a huge, rather scary honour! "You realise I'm more of a tunesmith than a composer, don't you?" I felt the need to mention this fact, knowing how completely out of my depth I'd feel talking to proper composers about their music. "But you work,"  they said, "so few of our graduates manage to make a living writing music and I think the students would benefit hugely from talking to you." I thought for a moment about the knock-backs, the pathetic piles of rejection letters, the court cases and the periods spent standing in dole queues and decided that they were absolutely right. I should speak to students. Any potential composer should go into this business with his or her eyes wide open, knowing that it can be a rocky but potentially fabulous ride.  And I realise there and then that there is nothing else I could ever do with my life. For every tear of pain, there are ten tears of joy. For every evening where I've slammed doors and whinged at friends and family, there are scores where I have felt utterly alive. Tonight is one of those nights, and yet again I find myself thanking Yorkshire.

350 years ago, Pepys went to Chelsea to do some business with the Lore Privy Seal, who was, unsurprisingly, absent. Instead he went for a drink with Mr Pargiter, the Goldsmith, whom he described as "the man of the world that I do most know and believe to be a cheating rogue." Eek!

Apologising to God for so flagrantly abusing his vows, he took himself to the theatre in the afternoon to see Davenant's Love and Honour, a good plot, by all accounts, well acted.

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