I’m thinking of the Windermere String Quartet as they prepare to play the premiere of my piece tonight. If they are like me, they are avoiding going out into the snow that continues to fall on Toronto this afternoon. Maybe like me they are practicing, and have persistent pets like my cat (pictured here, with her permission) who expresses her opinion of music by sitting on it. My cat apparently approves of Willan Missa Brevis #4.
The string quartet we will hear tonight is called “From a distant Island.” I wrote most of the quartet while on sabbatical on the Isle of Wight. For two weeks I lived in a convent with cloistered nuns who were not allowed to speak to me. It was the perfect environment for creative work. It seemed that whenever I got bogged down with composing, the chapel bell would ring and summon me to one of the daily offices sung impeccably to Gregorian chant by the Sisters at Saint Cecilia’s Abbey. Then I could return to work refreshed and inspired. Some of that chant rubs off on the quartet – there is a reference to the Dies Irae which I heard sung for All Souls day.
Tonight I finally get to hear that music. It’s part of Pax Christi Chorale’s 25th Anniversary gala fundraiser. We’ll hear the quartet in a very modern environment – the 24th floor of Fasken-Martineau at the Bay Adelaide centre in the heart of downtown Toronto. I’m hoping my musical descriptions of the English countryside go down well in this extremely urban environment. Beyond that I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family, and celebrating the choir’s success over the last quarter century.