Tuesday, September 02, 2008

2 September 2008
People say that modern music cannot find an audience. They say the same about theatre.

But I write this listening to ecstatic applause from a full house at the Albert Hall, where they’ve been performing Messaien’s Turangalila Symphony.

Messaien’s music isn’t especially easy; it’s full of discords; it structures itself in an alien and unfamiliar way. It’s not very good at melody. You could hardly sing along to it.

Yet people seem to love his music. I felt that in the Festival, at his Eclairs sur l’au-dela.

I think its because he writes from a place of meaning. Where life makes sense. And he writes from a sense of love and joy. Joy at the amazing richness of creation.

All of which is what I am trying to do.

Thinking of A Child of Our Time. Again, where Tippett was trying to make sense of catastrophic suffering.

All that is so important. That and recognising the possibility of change.

In this festival, I’ve kept seeing it in myself. At the Messaien concert, for instance, I noticed how much I’d changed.

Before, when I was trying to live as ‘John’, I used to so enjoy a concert or a performance in solitude. When I saw these things at school, I totally valued them partly because they were somewhere I could be absolutely alone. I was desperate for that: so I could escape the utterly oppressive collectiveness that surrounded me. And was trying to destroy me.

And I was incredibly aware of the difference of being with the music or the performance and talking about it. I felt very passionately that talking about what I’d felt spoilt it somehow and I was obsessive in my determination to avoid talking to anyone afterwards.

But now I seem to seek out company. In skirt or dress, I actively seek out exchanges and contacts with ushers, programme sellers and fellow members of the audience in ways that utterly amaze me. All these contacts with people than in the past were so painful in my shyness and that I used to try to avoid are now a new source of pleasure.

I was in Prince’s St. gardens on Sunday watching the fireworks with a dear friend with whom I could converse with every degree of pleasure.

And for the first time in five years I have enjoyed the Festival without some hideous calamity having just occurred or hanging over my head.

So yes: as the fireworks played their amazing inventive and beautiful patterns in the sky: yes. Time to celebrate.

But now: it’s back to work.

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