Thursday, February 10, 2005


Nice feedback today from my friend Beate in Vilnius. She's been showing off the piece I wrote for The Strad (February issue) about musical life in Lithuania, one of the articles I was able to do as a result of my visit to the Vilnius Festival last June, and it seems to be going over well with many of the individuals and institutions involved.

This is a great relief, because trying to encapsulate an entire culture, a whole history and its associated personalities and triumphs and tragedies after only 5 days in the place is no easy task - and squeezing even 5 days' worth of experiences into three pages is just as problematic (especially experiences like that!). I can't help remembering that the whole of James Joyce's Ulysses takes place in one day.

It's weird, but after 15 years in music journalism, I still find it terrifying to think that anyone actually READS what I've written. Writing these days is a remarkably odd process (perhaps it always was...). You sit in your study, type away at the computer, brush and hone and chop and change and try reading things aloud and eventually you get the word length about right; then you press a button and off it goes...and you forget about it until, a few weeks or months later, there it is in the programme/newspaper/magazine and you can't even remember what you wrote or how you wrote it. I did some programme notes for an LPO concert last week and it was pretty alarming to see people in the audience sitting expectantly with the relevant page open on their knees. The most frightened I've ever been on such an occasion was once when I'd written the notes for a song recital at the Wigmore Hall and on the night I spotted Vikram Seth, one of my favourite writers, sitting across the aisle, leafing through...

Blogging, by contrast, is in real time. Plus, you can go back and change things if you need to. And you don't have to watch while people go 'tut tut tut' and shake their heads sadly over your remarks. Much more friendly.