Poetry, painting and animation,
conversations through lake walks, slushy runs in fresh snow…..
What is not to love about February,
in beautiful enchanting Annaghmakerrig?
A creative space away from the world,
frozen in time,
surrounded by writers and artists bursting with talent.
The perfect tonic for a weary spirit,
a concerto audience to witness a stop on its journey….
On my last residency, I spent hours noodling on the pianos, grasping at sound, clutching at musical patterns, hunting for the inspiration to placate a writing block I was entertaining as I fought to evolve the primary thematic variation of the concertos first movement. I spent 3 weeks, in my timeless creative black hole, and ended up discovering the enchanting aleatoric development for the first movement within the old creaky walls of the house.
This February, I returned like a triumphant emperor, with a full concerto, mocked up to hint at its full potential but in need of some gentle nurturing and caressing. Arriving at Annaghmakerrig is always like a prodigal return homecoming. The rooms are frozen in time, unchanged, as if the estate was waiting for you to come back to her, and continue your illicit spiritual romance with Muses. The staff provide a welcome dose of familiarity, and your first 7pm dinner completes the celebrations.
An Audience with Artists
Cora and I have been preparing to ‘test’ perform the music. I think ‘performances’ are what the piece needs. It needs time to breathe, to find its own legs, and its own voice. The music has to start living now that it has been conceived. It was a long gestation period, but its now born onto paper and ready to grow into the universal consciousness. Its funny, but in the Entertainment Industry, everyone has test screenings of films all the time, but within the Music Industry its often only that big ‘premiere’ that gets talked about.
An interesting thing happened on this writing trip however. Through conversation and friendship, fellow artists and writers started to hear about the music and curiosity grew. Its a natural bi-product of conversation, particularly among creative people about things they are creating. Slowly I had a stream of artists coming to the ‘composers room’ to listen to some music, which invariably turned into playing some Mother Teresa score and then hesitantly playing some of my mocked up concerto through moderately OK speakers that have a buzz!
This process snowballed into a Sunday night mini concert that saw the entire table of artists retire to the composer room after dinner to listen to music. I gave everyone an option of what they could listen to and waited for a consensus. In the end, samples of the film score and the ENTIRE concerto were played. I would by lying if I said I was not a little nervous. The mock ups are only what they are. They lack the correct dynamic range. They lack the rich, deep, fat, warm dynamic timbre that comes from live instruments and my ‘non’ mix.
I was surprised with was the universal embracing of the music that occurred. I don’t know what I expected, but certainly not that! The first critical audience GOT what I was trying to say with the music. They also felt the contrast between movements which was such a relief. It was hard not to come away feeling good about the music, immaterial to how much writing I got done!
I discovered, yet again, that the points I am nervous about in draft 1 are painfully obvious to me when I am listening with any audience – be it an audience of 1 or 15 people!
Incidentally, The Letters score translated well too. Watching a few scenes and sharing the music with friends was almost a novel experience for me finally! There was a lot of emotion brought to the scenes by the score. Many artists were moved by the story and its intent. It was really encouraging and affirming to experience. I guess I gave an impromptu class on film composing for artists!
I can’t believe it will be a week before I am back again…..
My dear Annaghmakerrig,
can you share the burden of our longing
for just a few days more?