Musician Mike Riley talks about rehearsing the new score
It's St Patrick's Day and it's freezing outside and the snow is being driven horizontally by a strong east wind and obscuring the view across the river to the Groves. Mid-March has rarely seemed so cold. But inside we're warm and snug and rehearsing the music for this year's Mystery Plays.
Tucked into the space are many and varied instruments. There are recorders, clarinets, a saxophone, two concertinas, a hurdy-gurdy, an ocarina, a bodhran, drums, flutes, a cello, guitars, and a synthesiser. And Matt directing the whole rehearsal from his keyboard.
Today we're going through the music for the Overture, Creation and Adam and Eve. This is the beginning of a process which will ultimately result in a finished product by the time the Plays start in June. And hopefully sound absolutely fantastic and do justice to Matt's wonderful music.
At the moment, however, we're going through things very carefully. First of all making sure we can play most of the right notes and in the right order, to misquote a certain comedian. But that is to do my fellow instrumentalists a disservice, for in this room are some very accomplished musicians and it's a privilege to be making music with them.
Matt is going through things in great detail, tweaking bits here and there, depending on the nuances of the script. This is an evolving process. What we're playing now will bear only a partial resemblance to what the public will hear in June. Bits will be added, bits will be taken away. 'Can I hear that chord again?' 'Cello would sound good here'. Matt is very particular in what he wants, but it's done in such a benign way that no-one minds. No-one is criticised for getting it wrong. And it's always fun.
And so it goes on. Three hours pass in a flash and we're all pretty tired at the end of it, but with a feeling that progress has been made. And we'll do it all again next weekend and most others until the Plays start at the end of June.
The music is lovely and it will be a delight when it's combined with the acting. The people who will come to the Plays are in for a real treat.