It often feels like I have little control over my musical diary. Typically I'll find out quite late on, and by chance, that a performance of one of my compositions is taking place somewhere. Going to hear my own music being played is the reason I laboured over it in the first place, so if possible I try to fit these surprise concerts around the other things I had already planned to do. So it was that I began to see a fortnight of performances of my music, more or less daily, forming itself around the beginning of March. It was quite extraordinary; an opera production, three orchestral concerts, two Wigmore Hall recitals, plus even more chamber music, all in major London venues.
Of course, setting out for King's Place and the first of these events the day after the invasion brought back unreal feelings from exactly two years ago, when we continued doing concerts here, while watching the rest of Europe and Asia shut down because of Covid. Somehow though, if we are lucky enough to have the chance, going out to music feels like the very best thing to do at the moment. I feel so grateful for the focus and sense of civility it brings.
Baritone Roderick Williams has just started a residency at King's Place, and he's such a good choice of artist for this kind of scheme. He exudes warmth and relaxation from the stage, while being spot on with the notes. He's also a composer and arranger, and as we learned from this programme with Aurora Orchestra, an ingenious programme builder; starting on this evening with a jewel-like solo song by Brian Elias, a request as it were to the audience for careful listening during the evening to come. It had been another of those surprises to learn that Roderick was going to sing my song cycle Good Morning Midnight, originally written for mezzo soprano. What would it be like? I was ever grateful to hear a neglected piece again after a few years, but keeping an open mind. In fact, the baritone voice at times seemed like a much better choice, linking in luxuriously with the cellos and bass clarinets in my ensemble. And it has to be admitted that low voice registers usually mean more audible words, especially when sung by a superlative communicator.
(A BBC Radio 3 broadcast is coming up - I will post the date when I have it.)