Twice recently the past has caught up with me in unexpected ways.
I had almost forgotten a composition I wrote for taonga puoro and bassoon - that's Maori musical instruments and bassoon. As one does. The piece is called Puna which means a spring or water-source. This one is at Hamurana on Lake Rotorua and roughly 4 million litres per hour surface there, silently, smoothly and, at 10 degrees C, very cold. I remember it well enough as I skinny-dipped there with the Maori artist James Webster, and Pania Witoko. It would kill me to do that now.
The bassoonist, Ben Hoadley asked me to compose Puna for himself and Richard Nunns to perform in the British Museum in front of the collection of Maori artefacts and they did so back in 2005. I remember that occasion well too, because a young New Zealander was so moved by hearing his people's instruments played live in the Museum, that he broke into a spontaneous celebratory haka.
But that, I thought, was that. When would a piece for bassoon and Maori traditional instruments ever be played again?
Only last night a link came through to a performance of Puna in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in March last year. It is, of course, Ben Hoadley, but this time with Rob Thorne on taonga puoro, and the playing is really beautiful. It should be up on the net soon.
Thanks guys! What a wonderful memory to come alive again so vividly.
The other call from the past was a request to write a word or two about the playwright and poet Joan Ure (Betty Clark). A book of her poems, The Tiny Talent, has been published in Orkney and the publishers have invited people who knew her to send in a word or two. My piece is titled Visiting Meikle Mochrum and is up there on the BRAE editions website.
Joan's poems are sensitive and subtle - and the book is very nicely produced. Well worth buying.
Meanwhile, miniature daffodils declare war on winter, along with crocusses and snowdrops and hellebores. Even the willow has pussies on it. We humans, however, being much less hardy, negotiate regular truces, and the cows accept it all with their usual stoicism.
John Purser is widely known as a composer, musicologist, poet, playwright, and broadcaster.