Given the last year, or indeed eighteen months that they've spent as students at Cambridge University, it seems really remarkable that the organisers of Minerva Festival managed to put on their (usually annual) composition competition this month. In fact the winning entry by Bosba Panh was actually about the experience of being trapped in her student room during a lockdown: "the slow drip of dewdrops on my windows: and the jumping of crows and magpies, my envy towards them".
All four of the finalist entries were played in a workshop by a very able student trio - again, how did they find the time, energy, etc to master some tricky scores. My fellow panellist Sarah MacDonald, Selwyn College's director of music, voiced my exact thoughts; after a month of extremely long musical days (at last!) we wondered if we could possibly get our heads around an extra Saturday morning of new music. But as ever, this charmingly informal but seriously intended event sprang into life, and it was wonderful to think that somehow-or-other, the composers had reached their intended final bars.
I also picked up a lot of useful string-writing advice from our other panellist, cellist-composer Joy Lisney. How fortunate Cambridge's student composers are nowadays to have some accessible female role models working in their midst. (As I never fail to point out) when I attended the same university several decades ago, there were none.
Pictured - I always enjoy the red bricks of Newnham College.