And so it goes on…

Life has been pretty crazy this year, with not as much time as I’d like for composing.

Despite that, I’ve managed to finish off a new arrangement of I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day – for SAAB. I’ve also been quite busy working on a few larger works, including an Ave Maria which is going well, and a new earth-based piece possibly titled Awakenings, which is going well, set for SATB and hand drum.

The Awakenings piece is the one that is really taking off. I work in an odd kind of way – I get a theme in my head, and go with it, and either it starts to work well, or it doesn’t. In the case of this new work, it’s coming together nicely. And unlike most of my works, the basses have a lot of work to do – they’re the superstars, and hopefully will love it, with some really low notes to pound out and have fun with!

I just wish I had more time to compose! Composing isn’t my only interest – or job – and there has been a lot on my plate this year. As well as work, I took a month of holidaying in Europe, which was spectacular fun, and I’ve been busy at the local gym, getting back into rowing form, and doing a bit of bodybuilding as well (yeah, I’m a composer who bodybuilds – who’d a thunk it?). I just like to have a lot on my plate – I’m not happy unless I’ve got way too much to do!

Anyway, Awakenings should be finished pretty soon, and of course it will be released here at the website before anywhere else. It’s along the same vein as Crescent Moon, so if you liked that, you might just like Awakenings!

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Busy working away…

I’ve been pretty busy the last few weeks, working on a few pieces of music that are struggling to reach completion.

Not many composers talk much about the compositional process, and the difficulties that are sometimes involved. So when we hear a piece of music at its completion, we’re never really aware of what went into it, or how much in the way of blood, sweat and tears were bred into its making.

For me, some music comes easy. “Mary Sings A Lullaby” was written in the space of a few hours. “Crescent Moon” appeared in the space of three or four days, when my husband was on business overseas, and I had no-one and nothing to keep me company in the evenings. And “Where Is The Moon?” was also a few hours, coming quickly and with little effort.

But other pieces have been really hard. And at the moment, I’m struggling with an “Ave Maria” whose principal themes arrived quickly, but now seems to sit in a secondary phase of development, not wanting to be finished. I know it will happen, but it seems to be challenging me at every turn.

Then, of course, there are just the everyday businesses of life that slow things down. I have two kids, and they’re demanding. Other interests fill my hours, and I have a farm to run that takes time. We’ve had four groups of overseas visitors come to stay in four months (*waves*), and – while it has been lovely – it does take a fair chunk of your time to show people around our beautiful Taieri and city.

Plus we’ve been renovating. The whole top storey of our home has been redecorated and painted. I’ve been up, fourteen feet in the air, perched on stepladders, covered in eau-de-nil paint, and dabbing at walls on my tiptoes. The house (or the upper part of it!) is looking awesome, but it all took time in which I wasn’t composing.

But now the winter is on its way. Everywhere I look, autumn has settled in with a vengeance, and the nights are definitely feeling colder. Daylight Savings time is over. And soon it will be too cold to do much on the farm besides a little bit of fence-fixing here and there, and just regular checks on our animals.

That’s when the composition will happen in big chunks. Because there is nothing better to do, when the wind is blowing hard outside, than to snuggle up under the heater with my laptop, and fiddle with the lines of a new piece. Or complete something that has been on the backburner for a while.

So yes, things are definitely moving. “Ave Maria” will get out of the door – eventually. I promise. What I have done is sounding incredible. It’s on its way.

I’m looking forward to sharing it with you when it is done.

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day” and other performances

I’ve just had a request for an SSAB version of “I heard the bells on Christmas Day”, for the sesquicentennial celebrations of the American Civil War in Gettysburg, USA in June 2013! So I’m busy working away, and that should be released on this website within the next day or two.

In the meanwhile, the current SATB version is (of course) available here. Go have a listen – it’s quite a lovely piece.

I’m thrilled at the chance to be part of such an important celebration – the American Civil War not only changed the face of US history, but also the path of human rights worldwide. I just wish I could thank the great poet Longfellow for writing such a beautiful text. I hope I’ve done it justice.

Other performances

When I began 2012, I was hoping that I might equal the sixty (or so) performances I managed worldwide last year. Things are looking good – so far I’ve had about a dozen performances, primarily in the UK, plus a couple of performances in the US and in New Zealand. I really need to update my performance page!

But the year has been so busy with other things – at home we’re ripping out a swimming pool, doing landscaping of the farm and painting, we’ve got in a new ram, and I’ve also been busy hatching out baby chicks. All have kept me busy, not to mention looking after a very active four year old, and a pretty precocious seven year old. I sleep well these days!

New works

However, I’ve finally got back to composing, now the kids are back in school and kindy (I’m sure Beethoven never had to deal with parent-teacher timetables!). I’m currently working on an Ave Maria – something I always intended to write but which, until now, I never felt competent enough to attempt. But now the time has come, and it is happening, and I’m about halfway there.

I’m thrilled with the piece, my husband hates it, so I guess the proof in the pudding will be how you all out there respond to it. It certainly isn’t “traditional” in any sense!

The “Ave Maria” should be completed and released in the next week or two, if all goes well. It will be released here at this website first, so stay tuned 🙂