Our Best of British concert is over and I think everyone was very happy with the way we performed. Not a large audience (sometimes a lovely day can be a drawback for a concert day!) but a very appreciative audience.
Di had us perform the last item with no music, something we haven't done for a long, long time and guess what? We all coped. I think it is something that we should endeavour to do more often as there is considerable benefit to be had in both the process and the end result. In a sense, some members of the choir who don't read music already do this to a large degree, although they still have the words to refer to.
Being music-less requires that you know the music thoroughly, especially the length of rests and in phrases that are similar but slightly different (I'm thinking of Rutter's 'Gaelic Blessing' here), knowing exactly the note values. Not being able to see where other parts come in - especially those you make use of to know when your own part starts - forces you to really concentrate and, I think, appreciate much more the interweaving of parts.
The other important thing that happens is that -gasp!- everyone watches the conductor, all the time. Everyone decrescendos together, comes off the end of the phrase together, resulting in a much more nuanced and effective performance. It reminds us that the music we have in front of us is a reference, not a book to bury our heads in.
Next up, our choir joins again with Dunedin's Star Singers and the Central Otago Singers for a concert in Dunedin on 9 September. at the OBHS Auditorium, 2pm. and then we will start preparing for our Christmas concert later this year.
Last year the Central Otago Singers visited Invercargill and we performed a concert with them which we thoroughly enjoyed. We agreed that this year, A Capella Singers would return the favour and join COS for a concert in Alexandra. And if two choirs are good wouldn’t three be great? Come on down from Dunedin, Star Singers! Oh and let’s add an orchestra for good measure – hello Central Otago Orchestra!
So off I went, car loaded with music, musical instrument and paraphernalia and two fellow choir members (1 alto, 1 soprano) bound for Alexandra. And what a cracker weekend it was, starting with the fabulous sunny warm weather. All 3 choirs and the orchestra piled into the Terrace Hall for a practice on the Saturday afternoon. As anyone who sings in a choir will know, getting one choir on and off stage in a decorous manner can be somewhat vexatious. Try it with three choirs and Brown’s Cows ensues before everyone gets the instructions sorted.
The combined choirs practiced our three numbers for the concert, each conducted by a different conductor. Firstly Handel’s Zadok the Priest followed by The Lord Bless You and Keep You (David Childs) and finally Vaughan-Williams’ Serenade to Music. The last, a real melding of orchestra and choir, was not without its challenges. I was grateful for David’s advice to begin as if we were joining a train moving along a track, both of us going in the same direction.….or something along those lines, I know it had something to do with transport.
Many of us gathered at the Orchard Café that evening for a delicious meal and stimulating musical converation. A great way to get to know the choristers from the other choirs. Some of us (yes alright, me) were keeping an eye on the clock to ensure we were back at the motel in time for the start of the All Black v Wallabies game. Some of us (yes alright, me) were not enthralled at the result and found it a struggle not to offer some useful advice to the referee at a loud volume, in order to preserve our voices for the concert.
Sunday morning was given over to individual choir rehearsals and a general wander around in the glorious sunshine. After changing into our finery we had a quick run-through of the massed items and then the audience started arriving. And arriving and arriving to the extent that more seating had to be added to the hall. We were all thrilled at the turnout, and the ACS members were delighted to catch up with former member Gaynor Bonnar, now resident in Clyde.
The ACS individual items generally went well and the audience certainly enjoyed Loehrer’s ‘I Hold Your Hand in Mine’. It was fun watching their faces as they came to the realisation that yes, the hand of the song title that we were holding and kissing, had parted company with it’s former owner!
I really enjoyed singing with the combined choirs and having different conductors with their individual styles. Hopefully we will get to do it again another time.
Here's some of us basking in the sunshine before the concert
I'm a soprano :)