Jacob Heringman, lutenist - Diary
Iím at home, and I have a bit of time on my hands. Praise be! Zan is on the phone to Jane (her viol-maker extraordinaire), and Iím at my desk catching up. Spring seems to be here finally, and the garden is lush and beautiful.
Iíve spent the day at the computer dealing with matters arising. Thereís never a shortage of these. One of my tasks today was to help a film crew (by phone and fax) locate just the right instrument for the scene they want to film. They think they need a mandore or perhaps a baroque mandolin. I think what they really need is a nineteenth-century mandolin.
Another job today was to type up a Live Music Now! report.
Live Music Now!, for those not familiar with it, is a marvellous scheme dreamed up by Yehudi Menhuin in the Ď70s. The idea is this: Live Music Now! is a charity which takes music to places that would not ordinarily have music. Examples of such places include prisons, hospitals, hospices, old peoplesí homes, mental institutions, schools, etc. The performers in question are young people just starting out as professional musicians. The genius of this scheme lies in the fact that it benefits both parties equally. The schools, prisons, hospices, etc. benefit by receiving subsidized music which they wouldnít otherwise be able to have. (And I could tell endless stories about those rewarding moments when inmates or patients or whatever seem to come to life in the face of the healing presence of live music.) The young musicians benefit by gaining valuable performing experience. And not just any performing experience! Live Music Now! performances can be very challenging! Sometimes one is faced with an audience (for example in a mental institution) of very agitated people, some of whom are shouting or running around or even standing right at your elbow as youíre trying to play. At other times (for example in a home for people with senile dementia) one is faced with an audience most of which doesnít even seem to notice that youíre there. These experiences are extremely valuable for performers. Strangely enough, they are good preparation for public concerts.
I was a performer on the scheme for a few years about a decade ago. It was hugely valuable to me in helping me to become a more confident performer. Now Iím involved in mentoring young musicians who are just joining the scheme. I attend their performances, and report on their progress, giving them help and advice where I can.
I think LMN is an inspired scheme, and Iím proud to be involved with it.
Zan and I were away for the last couple of days, visiting my duo partner Catherine and her husband and children. The night before last, we put on a house concert at her lovely place out in the country, where we tried out the new programme which weíll be performing in London on the 6th of June. It includes the world premieres of two new pieces by Andrew Keeling.
Yet another beautiful day. The summer weather tastes sweet after so many months of cold and rain.
Yesterday, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Hugh working on designs for the Jane Pickeringe CDís cover. Lots of good stuff was generated. I also saw Robert and David briefly, which was a pleasant bonus.
After that, I drove cross country to West Sussex to see Martin Haycock, ace lute maker and friend. I rented a car for the day, and the array of gorgeous English countryside in its early-summer prime which I drove through was breathtaking. Salisbury plain, Stonehenge, the lovely valley that houses DGM World Central, the New Forest (complete with wild ponies and their young), the South Downs -- these are among the most beautiful scenes that southern England has to offer. This is particularly true when the hawthorn and lilac are in full bloom, and when the young oak leaves still have that special early-summer intense green colour.
Today, Iím mostly preparing for a marathon three-session recording day tomorrow. The morning session consists of an odd bit of session work, and the afternoon and evening sessions are with the New London Consort for the BBC.
Iíve finally finished assembling my detailed comments on, and corrections to, the Jane Pickeringe first edit. They went off to Ade last night. Today Iím concentrating on practice for upcoming events, of which there are rather a lot. (See Tour Dates and Present Moment News pages, which I hope to update before the end of today.)
Iím somewhat dopey today, suffering the delayed effect of a very sleepless night the night before last. Sometimes, for no particular reason that I can discern, I find myself wide awake at 4 AM for two or three hours. But Iím learning to appreciate these times now. They donít happen very often. Usually, when they do, itís at least partly because Iíve got a lot on my mind. But I also find that Iím often so busy during the day that I donít give myself that crucial thing which I think everyone needs, which is unprogrammed quiet time alone, even if itís just half an hour to go for a walk and think. It seems that when I build up a deficit of this "quiet thinking time", along comes an episode of insomnia, which in effect provides a chunk of quiet thinking time for me, whether I like it or not. And usually I feel somehow better as a result.
The future is very much on my mind as I enter a new chapter of my life. In September I begin training as an Alexander Technique teacher. This is not a complete change of direction for me, but a continuation in the direction in which I was tending. And I am not giving up music making either; on the contrary, Iím getting rid of some of the less central work, and focussing in on my own projects, the ones that mean the most to me. As a matter of fact, I suspect that, far from weakening or diffusing my music making, this will enhance it. But ditching some of the work that pays the bills is very scary. Iím not sure at this point in time how Iím going to survive financially for the next three years. But sometimes you just have to do a thingÖ.
This afternoon the funeral of Andrewís father takes place. We wonít be there in person, but weíll be there in spirit.