The winter is a good time to get down to some desk work and composition. New musical works had to be put to one side for a while to make room for travels as an examiner and the preparation of a fresh talk for the Concordia String Orchestra’s Christmas lunch. Variations on an orchestral theme used contemporary documents to describe the trials and tribulations of Mozart, Beethoven and Berlioz in organising concerts of their works. Concordia’s members were much amused by the tales of poor organisation and timetabling, cold halls and lack of rehearsal time. The comments of Berlioz on individual string sections proved surprisingly modern and perceptive. The final quotation was a touching account of the 12-year-old Joseph Joachim’s performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in London, with Mendelssohn conducting – and we concluded with a rip-roaring performance of Respighi by the National Youth Orchestra. Orchestral playing certainly has a future.
Much of January was taken up with a commission to produce experimental advanced aural questions based on complex scores. Now Rosemary has returned to composition. She is putting the final touches I am breathing – a further addition to the set of Devotional Songs to be used on a retreat in mid-February. She is also working on a larger project to set a new translation of seven verses from the Bhagavad Gita as a flexible setting in two forms. The seven verses will form short individual songs which can easily be learned by heart and sung in unison. A more developed version for SATB choir will combine the material of the seven songs into a continuous cantata lasting approximately fifteen minutes.