Out of the blue, while holidaying in the fabulous fresh air of friendly British Columbia, I received an email from England. Tomorrow I’ll be going down to a Toronto studio to be interviewed for a BBC 4 radio show about Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. That’s all because of this blog and my posts about that composer. So, I keep on blogging, even though here, on a weekend break with my parents, the Ontario summer is so hot and humid one can barely summon the strength to lift a cold beer.
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to hearing a couple of my compositions this summer. At St. George’s Church in Oshawa my newest piece is being premiered this Thursday evening. I was commissioned to write this in honour of the prominent Toronto composer Ruth Watson Henderson who will be receiving an honourary degree from the SICM. “And as I wake” is for choir and organ, based on an excerpt from a poem by Milton: “There let the pealing organ blow to the full voiced choir below, in service high and anthems clear, as may with sweetness, through mine ear, dissolve me into ecstasies, and bring all heaven before my eyes.” The performers start rehearsing tomorrow morning with a wonderful conductor, U of T’s Hilary Apfelstadt and organist David Palmer. Hot off the press, Kelman Hall of Kitchener-Waterloo is providing published copies already.
The other composition is “When you are old and grey” which you can download for free from my compositions page on this blog. In July (I can barely write these surreal words) the superstar British baritone Roderick Williams proposes to sing this song (hopefully, fingers crossed,) as the encore for his recital at the Three Choirs Festival. If you’re attending, let’s make sure he comes back for at least one extra song!
Over in England I will be doing a very cool thing – walking Chaucer’s pilgrimage road to Canterbury with my sister Cori Martin. Her poetry was also found on my blog by some British folks last year. Her poem “Christmas Cattle” was read at Ex Cathedra’s candlelit concerts of poetry and music last December. While on the road I’m hoping we can collaborate on a very exciting, upcoming, top secret commission. Back in London we’ll be engaging in some quality Shakespeare time, doing the Henry the Sixth marathon at the Globe Theatre. All three parts of Henry VI will be performed consecutively on the same day, with ample breaks for second breakfast, elevenses, lunch and tea. Any bets on whether we can stand in the yard for all three plays?
These varied summer activities are going to be very special, and if the fates allow, I shall blog.