This is the bit of the story before it really begins. On Tuesday I am off to Royaumont for their Académie Voix Nouvelles: twelve days' immersion into the world of contemporary music. An unique opportunity to work intensively alongside other young composers and instrumentalists, under the expert guidance of Juliet Fraser, the Tana Quartet and Ensemble Multilatérale, as well as Royaumont's own composition professors.
I cannot wait to experience Royaumont itself - a cultural hub in the north of France, situated within the expansive grounds of a 12th-century Abbey. There are libraries, parks and gardens to lose yourself in; a chance to leave outside concerns behind and dedicate oneself to an intense period of study and reflection. What better way to bring one academic year to a close, and to prepare my mind for the next, that is fast approaching?
I am hoping that my time in Royaumont will allow me flesh out my artistic identity beyond the conservatoire walls, and to nourish my mind and creative spirit, which can so often get neglected by the harsh reality of a daily commute and other such practicalities. The prospect of a safe space in which to experiment, infinite time in which to explore - if only for two weeks - nonetheless excites me. My rucksack contains a mixture of works that I have lived with these past few years, such as King Harald's Saga, in which I hope to discover a new energy driving the words and music; and works that are fresh in my mind, such as the Aperghis Récitations, which currently seem to reveal a new nuance in text or phrasing every time I look back down at the page.
There are also the completely new - the unperformed - scores, which we will have the privilege of breathing life into. Nothing quite matches the thrill of finding the unexpected at every page turn, discovering the colours that a piece adopts as it grows out of the ensemble for the very first time, and finally giving it flight in front of its first eager pairs of ears - waiting to see if it reaches into someone's soul and changes them. It is a risk. For the performers, for the composers, for the listeners. We are all exposing ourselves to that unknown possibility - allowing ourselves to be taken on a journey for the very first time. But sometimes, magic happens.
Royaumont seems the perfect opportunity to get back into the habit of blogging regularly. I cannot wait to chronicle and share some of my experiences in this cultural safe-haven. Let's see if I find any magic there.