It’s always seemed rather odd to me that the academic year and the new concert season start in the autumn. I understand that historically it’s to do with the harvest being gathered in, and a season of work being finished, after which it’s time to start new things. Somehow this centuries-old pattern of structuring the year has continued despite the fact that few of us these days are called back to our village in late summer to wield a pitchfork. In our urban lives we’re scarcely aware of the harvest.
As autumn arrives, it often goes slightly against the grain (to continue the harvest image) to summon up energy for new goals and new chapters just as nature is winding down. The air turns crisp and cool, the sun is low on the horizon, the trees turn red, leaves fall and the nights draw in. At the same time, phones start to ring with demands for rehearsals, meetings, travel decisions and all the infrastructure that drives a new concert season. Everything is cranking up again for action. Yet I can’t be alone in looking out of the window and feeling that at this time of year it would be more natural to slow down, curl up somewhere peaceful, and lie fallow.