Yesterday I visited the Lawson Trio who were rehearsing my Piano Trio Two to take to the Buxton Festival. They were doing their usual excellent job, but it’s their rehearsal venue, St Mary’s Church Perivale, which has been my talking point ever since . To reach it, you first cross a pedestrian bridge over the multi-multi-lane A40 into London, a road so constantly full of roaring traffic that I would recommend this overpass to my composer brethren as a sonic experience in itself. Finally alighting at the other side you step a few yards into a strangely situated woodland glade, and there it is; a tiny 12th century church which (since it has long been cut off by the aforementioned trunk road from the rest of Perivale) was decommissioned a long while ago, and is now maintained by local people as a rehearsal and concert venue. Whilst we were rehearsing, a group of volunteers were weeding, polishing and cleaning – their cheerful devotion to this little shrine in its secluded location somehow reminded me of Sir Michael Tippett’s opera, The Midsummer Marriage. The next time someone tells me that classical music is dying out, I will think of these people.
My Piano Trio Two is inspired by three Zen anecdotes; for instance it includes quite a few silent bars with pause marks over them, which the Lawson Trio and I discussed at length during the rehearsal. I felt there was more than a touch of Zen to our situation – sitting talking about silence, while noisy motors surged endlessly beyond our back door.