Thursday, 7 April 2016


I went to bed last night without writing this blog for some reason and lay there, drifting off to sleep, trying to motivate myself to get up and remedy the situation. I failed spectacularly...

I'll not lie. The last few days have been blissful. Not only are rehearsals going well - we've almost finished learning the entire score - but, apart from running the odd note-bashing session, I don't really have any responsibilities. It feels like such an odd admission for a workaholic like me, but, because Brass is effectively written, and the creative team is so strong, my task is simply to let go. Almost for the first time in my life. There was a moment yesterday when I went up to the director, Hannah, to ask her a question about accents, and she said "what I love about you is that almost every time I've got something running through my head which I want to ask you about, you seem to be thinking the same thing!"

It suddenly struck me that seeing an established work being rehearsed is an experience which most composers are robbed off. We are only ever usually about in the high-pressure environment of a first production, when everyone's rushing about in a panic, demanding cuts and making us feel like rubbish writers because what we've written is too hard, or too high, or too whatever it is.

There's also a lot to be said for coming on a residential course with a bunch of really cool younger people. It reminds me of being at music school again. That sense of freedom and optimism can be very infectious. Last night we spent two hours playing a game called Mafia, just because we could. I didn't need to rush off to write more music, or sit on my own in a kitchen doing orchestrations. I could just sit down on a sofa and enjoy the moment. Bliss.

I very much enjoy the ten minute walk from the halls we're staying in to the main school. We walk across a beautiful playing field and it's a really nice bit of "me" time. This morning the sun was low in the sky and glinting on morning dew. The countryside is spectacular in these parts. We're right next to Knole House, of Vita Sackville-West fame, which is known for its many wild deer. Yesterday, whilst the girls in the cast started learning brass instruments for the first time, a beautiful Bambiesque creature with fabulous white spotty markings, skipped its way along the gully outside our window. We all rushed over to watch its progress and made the ludicrous types of noises that only a deer can inspire. The wonderful Lucy in the cast, in her glorious Derby accent, said "that, right there, is what we're all paying for!"

The Asian man who runs the local penny shop has vibrant purple hair underneath the halogen strip lights inside his gaff. I wonder if he knows? I died my hair raven black when I was eighteen and it went a similar colour. At the same time my brother had used too much Sun-In and gone bright orange. My mum once spent a shopping trip to Northampton telling us how proud she felt of her two boys!

I had something of an out-of-body experience last night as I watched the cast singing the first few numbers of the show. I felt a rush of pride and deep gratitude and then this surreal sense that all these amazing young people were working so hard on something I've written. It was a curious but gratifying emotion.

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