Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Weekend of Song

After a long week I wasn’t really looking forward to a weekend packed with Chorus activity, particularly as the last couple of days of the week I had been plagued by some minor ailment that left me with a headache and feeling weary all day, so I rather fancied a weekend to indulge myself. In the end though – as I should recognise is almost inevitably the case – the singing was a tonic for me; whatever lassitude remained was banished and, despite the time and effort involved, I felt thoroughly perked up by the recording sessions.

The weekend started on Friday night with a 5:30pm call to the Barbican where we were being employed to do a couple of half-hour sets in the gallery hosting the ‘Final Seduction’ exhibition.

The music all went well enough but the exhibition itself was the remarkable aspect of the evening; all about the Art of sex, it rather left me with the impression that, at least of late, there wasn’t any (art, that is.) Some of the classical work counted as art; there were some lovely oriental miniatures, baroque oil paintings and ancient statues but, of the more modern contributions, there were very few that I’d consider hanging on my own wall.

Some of it was just plain bad; there were some highly ‘impressionist’ pen-and-ink scrawls, an installation piece which was basically a slide show of a series of couples living their intimate lives and, in another area, a wall-filling silent movie close-up of a woman pleasuring herself while Fauré’s Requiem filled the room. The gallery in which we sang had only three pieces on the wall; large explicit photographs which could easily have been stills from the porn movie of your choice. Erotica? Maybe. Art? Not in my view.

Anyway, after our second set was finished, I headed straight home and slept.

Saturday was an early start to be at the Henry Wood Hall by 10am. The Chorus is recording most of the repertoire from our recent Palladium concert, Accentuate The Positive, as a CD. Last time we did a recording we had trouble getting people to turn up, but this time was much more enthusiastic and we had almost the full choir there. Everyone also seemed to adjust easily to the differing requirements of a recording studio rather than a live venue; the Chorus does have a tendency to bellow when asked to sing loudly, but with sensitive microphones surrounding us we seemed to overcome the urge for once and mostly produced controlled performances. Things inevitably ran late though…

In any case I ducked out early as I needed to cross town and get on a train to Newbury with Ping. Brett had long ago organised us tickets to a production of Merrily We Roll Along at the Watermill Theatre. It was produced by the same guy who did the Company revival in New York that we so loved last year and the production style here was very similar. That said, this show didn’t grab me nearly as much as Company had; it was a professional production though, so well done in that sense.

The theatre on the other hand really did grab me; apparently an old converted mill-house with a hugely picturesque mill pond overhung by weeping willows. In fact it was all so perfectly beautiful that I wondered if it might not be partly artifice. Either way, it’s somewhere I’d like to go back to on a sunny Sunday afternoon to spend some time relaxing. The pre-dinner buffet in front of the open log fire was quite decent too!

The three of us then drove home again, which took a while longer than I expected. I hadn’t realised quite how far out Newbury was!

Today it was back to the CD recording – although only for an afternoon start which meant a bit of quality time with my man in the morning. Today it was the big showtunes; Being Alive, What I Did For Love, One Night Only, Seasons of Love as well as the beautiful Parting Glass and a re-take of Je Ne Regrette Rien, which had had technical difficulties yesterday. It was a second long day, but I still came away feeling buoyed. I am really looking forward to getting a copy of the finished CD now!

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