To be honest, my friendship with Michael Tilson Thomas hasn’t gone quite as I had hoped. It started in February 1990, when he chose a Tallis Scholars track for one of his desert island discs. This was a movement from a mass by Josquin des Prez, that he said (apparently impromptu) was music which ‘completely comforts me and brings me into a state of tranquillity’. I thought I might have found a new messiah.
For many years now I have had the hope of meeting an orchestral conductor who is prepared to take on the challenges of performing a major work from the unaccompanied choral repertoire. Of course there have always been those who have included choral society-type singing in their symphony programmes. I mean those immensely complex a cappella masterpieces of the Renaissance which wouldn’t know an orchestral instrument if they saw one, and can last 20 minutes without a break. There is a huge conceptual gulf between what Tilson Thomas normally does, and what I do, and I have longed to hear what a top maestro would make of the latter.