Monday 20 March 2006

Saturday morning found me, briefly, at Jaques Samuels Pianos in the Edgware Road where baritone, David Greiner, was rehearsing for Thursday's concert. We then drove to Oxford to put up poster boards around the University Church to advertise the Cranmer concert that evening. The wind rather foiled us and David had to keep going back to sort the boards out.

The afternoon rehearsal was something of a public dress rehearsal. The University Church gets lots of visitors and of course they sat down and watched the choir singing. We gave out leaflets for the concert, but I don't know if this generated any extra audience, most visitors probably just regarded the singing as a lovely extra element of ambience in the church.

The concert itself went very well. We got a good audience, to my great relief, with a number of people coming specially because of the Cranmer connection; one lady came all the way from the USA for the concert! All items sounded good, but it was profoundly moving to hear my setting of Cranmer's final speech in the exact location where it had been spoken. The loveliest moment, for me, was not so much the concert as the rehearsal as by the time the choir came to rehearse The Testament of Dr. Cranmer the church was locked and it was just me listening alone in that lovely building. Quite magical.

Then Sunday morning we had the first orchestra rehearsal for the Salomon Concert, Getting up a bit earlier than we would have liked. It is always a wonderful relief to hear pieces for the first time and discover that they do sound as you intended. This is particularly true of orchestral works where the orchestration can make such a big effect. Even the poly-rhythmical passages are sounding right, and you're never sure about those until you actually hear them. There is no easy way for having the 4/4 and 6/8 played simultaneously (where the quaver is constant) and notated easily, so I've ended up with some passaged which are really in 4/4 but are notated in 6/8 so the players can follow the beat. Making this sound right is tricky, but its one of the limitations of Western notation.

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