Bicester, pronounced bis-ter, is a quaint little town near Oxford just over an hour by train from London's Marylebone station. I remember visiting it twice before.
My violist friend, who picked me up from the small train station of Bicester North, was surprised that I had brought so little luggage. All I brought was a toothbrush and sheet music.
Less than a year ago I had cycled to their wedding reception which was held on a boat docked at Richmond pier. It was one of the hottest days that summer, and I was glad that I had cycled rather than relied on public transport. Once on board the boat, I changed out of my shorts in the tiny bathroom, almost ripping my dress in the process. We drank champagne in the setting sun while the boat carried us back and forth on the River Thames. By the time the boat docked again, the wedding party was giddy with love and joy.
After their honeymoon in Sri Lanka, the newly weds moved out of their one bedroom flat in London into a 200-year-old cottage in Bicester. Today was the first time I had the opportunity to visit, and already there's a new addition to the family.
For their wedding, they invited their guests to contribute towards buying a piano. I was very pleased that they bought a mahogany Chappell upright which reminded me of my friend Nicola's piano. Theirs is in much better condition. The test of a good piano is whether it makes you want to play it. That is, the more you play, the more you want to play. It passed the test.
In our waking hours we played music in various combinations. I sightread the piano solo pieces I had selected from the Archive Bookstore earlier that day. I played my new piano solo compositions, "Purple Azalea" and "Rejection." The violist and I played several viola-piano duos.
When not breastfeeding their daughter, the cellist joined us in conversation and music. I remarked how happy I was that she had contacted me two years ago to sightread for fun. I had contacted one of the two local orchestras about my desire to sight read music with a cellist. At that time, I didn't know that her boyfriend played the violin and viola.
Tonight I invited the couple to sight read my first composition for viola and cello. They mentioned that they rarely find such a combination. I told them that I had imagined what it was like for two people to meet for the first time in cyberspace. The piece entitled "Encounter" goes like this.
The man (cello) approaches the woman (viola) gently. The woman echoes. After testing each other out, they start to make music together. It flows. They dance. They get to know one another. Then there's a bittersweet melody reminiscent of Piazzolla's heartbreaking motifs. They realise their brief encounter might not last. Still, they push on. In spite of the disagreements and arguments, their determination gathers strength until it explodes. There's a break. A silence. They get back to where they started but with more understanding and care. The music ends on the fortieth bar.
10 July 2004 Saturday