I spent a different weekend in Sligo, on the North-West coast of Ireland, where I was invited to talk on Nono, Feldman and contemporary music in a public discussion chaired by Ian Wilson, the Irish composer and Artistic Director of the Sligo New Music Festival.

Some very good memories of intelligent interpreters (Callino Quartet, Sarah Nicolls, Nancy Ruffer, Nicole Tibbels), during the three days of the Festival and lively discussion with fellow panelists Andrew Toovey, Ioana Petcu-Colan and Jürgen Simpson.

One image stuck in my mind: the description of the effort in performing Morton Feldman’s work for piano and string quartet lasting 85 minutes, by Ioana, the leader of the Callino Quartet: what the listeners’ experience should be is something like looking at a beautiful swan, gliding effortlessly on the water, while the performers, unseen, conscientiously paddle under the surface to keep the piece together, counting beats and bars but never showing it in the music…

As for the real thing, I managed to spend one (almost) rainless morning walking along the endless beaches north of Sligo at low tide, the first time I have been near the sea for a very long time.