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Way back in springtime, a sudden gust of wind sent flurries of cherry blossom swirling, around, before settling gently like a carpet of snow on the grass. As I observed, pensively, my imagination stirred from its slumber and a seed was sown. A very long time and a fair few sleepless nights later, I finally managed to hand in Sakura for the LSO, the last few months having been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Every time I sat down to realise the story in my head, I became overwhelmed by the huge sheet of stripy paper looming in front of me, and so often it seemed like a better idea to leave it lurking on my desk and write a song instead.

I remembered a beautiful occasion the year before: Whilst daydreaming in the Jardin Japonais de l’Île de Versailles, Nantes… I watched as the cherry blossom floated on the breeze, settling gently on the calm surface of a pond. The reflection of the trees reminded me of Escher’s lithograph Three Worlds’… It was a combination of these memories that became the point of departure for this piece. I found these images so beautiful and evocative that I was inspired to write a haiku and the piece grew with this in mind.

Sakura dancing

like snow on the winds of change

reflect in water.

The discomfort that arises as I write this blog is very telling of why I’ve avoided it for so long! I like to be quiet, and think about things, and play, and sing, and write music sometimes – to be a vessel for the music to breathe through. I’m not that good at shouting to the world ‘helloooo this is me…. Blah’ … I prefer to hide behind my cello, or the manuscript paper.

I spent much creative time playing cello with my band Miss Maud’s Folly, singing, exploring the streets of Nantes, and walking for solitary hours in the Cardiff parks and on the Cornish moors… all the while, sounds were making themselves known in my head. I felt like I was bursting at the seams with ideas, yet having to choose some for the 3-minute piece was a daunting prospect! I prepared with trepidation for the task of tying the lucky few down onto that big empty bit of paper.

… So, in the calm after the storm, I reflect on how I loved watching my piece grow, transform and take on a life of its own. At one point I tried to mould it to the old springtime seed but the music always had it’s own ideas. The more I wrote, the more the ideas flowed… looking back, I am amused by the emotional drama that arose during the initial creative process!

I have really enjoyed being a part of the Panufnik scheme, I feel so blessed to have this opportunity. I especially enjoyed the few occasions I ventured all the way to London to see the orchestra in rehearsal. Highlights for me were Gergiev conducting Dutilleux, and discovering the music and aesthetic of Helmut Lachenmann. I went home every time buzzing with inspiration and joie de vivre, ready to engage with that lurking stripy paper!

August 2020
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