Time Will Tell
gathered momentum, with several suggestions of unlikely tunes upon which the mass could be based, The Bee Gees’
Staying Alive
being the clear winner. Emma remembered her meeting with Andrew that night. Might the young musicologist have made a real discovery? Repertoire was still coming to light in odd places, dropping out of neglected books in Tallinn, such as the recent ‘new’ motet by Dunstable, and not so long ago someone had found a manuscript of a composition by Tallis which had been used by a Renaissance plasterer to fill a hole in a wall. If Andrew Eiger had inadvertently stumbled across something like that, then she wanted herself and the group to be involved. But she was dreaming. In all likelihood, he probably only had some new pet theory about the structure of a
chanson
, something arcane that thrilled him but which was no more than a cosmetic detail to a modern audience. Musical archaeology was a laborious process with few Eureka moments.
    â€˜Oh, hang on,’ said Marco. ‘There’s an interview. With Em.’
    â€˜Oh, don’t read that out,’ said Emma.
    It was always embarrassing to see her life reduced to a few words, the struggle and hard work compressed into a single sentence, foresight attributed to her where the reality was a series of unplanned accidents and coincidences. Fortunately the bill arrived at that point, prompting the usual debates about who owed what.
    Emma managed to retrieve the magazine from Marco and skimmed it as she and Ollie walked together to the gate. There were two pictures of her and one of the current group, a posed photograph with fixed smiles and polished shoes, far from the shambling image they presented that morning. The same gap between the public image and the private reality struck her again with the photos they had taken of her. Backlit in the bay window of her house, she looked unnecessarily earnest, more an intellectual than a performer. The cameraman had caught her leaning forward, a crease of worry etched into her forehead, the reason being that the interviewer had just spilled his tea rather than, as the image suggested, that she was struggling to explain something to someone less erudite than herself.
    The history of the group and its development was dealt with in two paragraphs; ironic, she thought, because in many ways Beyond Compère’s transition from stage play to concert group was the story of two romances. She had originally conceived the theatrical production with Paul, whom she thought of as her first ‘serious’ boyfriend. They were both post-graduates at Nottingham University; she had just begun an M.A. researching early Italian opera, whilst he was in the second year of his Ph.D. on Loyset Compère. The soundtrack of their life was fifteenth-century music and inevitably she came to learn a lot about the little-known French composer. That November they had set off in Paul’s battered Citroën Dyane for a two-week journey around Northern France to visit the key towns of Compère’s life: St Quentin, Douai, St Omer, Cambrai. While Paul scoured the archives, transcribing church records and searching for elusive leads, Emma wandered through the narrow, chilly streets. The townscape seemed to be perpetually blanketed in damp mist, and her own image of the composer emerged as if from the cold November fog itself. Each evening over dinner, Paul would share some new biographical detail and a new idea would form in Emma’s imagination. On their final evening in St Quentin, she outlined her vision: a theatrical production which told the story of the composer, Loyset Compère, using a simple set, tableaux and commentary, with music by the singer-composer and his contemporaries. The style would be boldly eclectic, ranging from detailed re-enactments of events in musical history to surreal sequences that explained the past using modern references. Already she could see key scenes perfectly crystallised:

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