Whither must I wander?

It was at the end of October that, after an eternity of prevarication, I finally decided that I was going to make Song Cycle a reality. The first post in this blog was written on the day that I met with Nina Swann and Rosanna Kwok at Live Music Now South East, and it was their enthusiasm for the project that finally persuaded me to take the plunge.

Since then, it's never been far from my mind. Things started slowly, with hours of route planning and shortlisting of potential concert venues, and I had a couple of early successes, managing to confirm concerts as part of Perth Festival and Dumfries and Galloway Festival early in December, but then the Christmas madness that is familiar to all musicians set in, and I didn't manage to make any more progress until the end of the month.

The dawning of the new year brought renewed urgency - I had been telling everybody that I met about the project, so that I wouldn't be able to back out or give up without losing face. Nevertheless, at the start of January I found myself five months away from the proposed start date with only two concerts confirmed, both in Scotland. It started to look like there'd be a great deal of Cycle and not very much Song, so it was all hands on deck for the first couple of weeks of the year, sending emails to all the shortlisted venues, and tightly crossing my fingers that I'd be able to make any available dates at venues line up with my cycling schedule. Much of the time the whole project felt like it was built on quicksand - trying to confirm dates at opposite ends of the country whilst making sure that my legs would actually be able to get me between them in time.

Notwithstanding a couple of lessons about the perils of employing one's family members as free labour (possibly a topic for another post!), all that emailing led to another Scottish success early in January thanks to the wonderful James Munro in Inverness, who does an incredible job of organising chamber music concerts there. His enthusiasm was an enormous boost just when I needed it.

England still looked barren, though, which was really no good for a project celebrating Vaughan Williams, but bit by bit, and with much help from people across the country, I've managed to confirm six beautiful venues south of the border, plus a pre-tour concert at my alma mater, Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Today I've been incredibly excited (and relieved) to confirm all the pianists that I'll be working with for the public concerts - in some places they'll friends that I've made a great deal of music with before, but in others there'll be the excitement of new collaborations.

It's going to be fascinating to work on these songs with so many different people in quick succession, but at this moment I'm just delighted to have found them all! Of all the logistical hurdles after confirming the venues, this was the one that had been most worrisome - I've spent much of the last few weeks fretting about not being able to find someone to play for one of the concerts and trying to weigh up just how awful it would be if I ended up having to accompany myself. Thank goodness it hasn't come to that!

There's masses still to do, and some particularly exciting discussions are coming up in the next week or so - watch this space!


David Jones