Mozart & Jenkins: the finale

I’m currently experiencing that slightly odd after-concert time. The days when you don’t quite know what to do with your spare time because you’d spent so much of it trying to learn the music, and when it’s a novelty to have to decide what to listen to on your music player of choice, because you’ve spent so many months listening to the concert pieces on repeat. The nights when the songs are still going round your head at silly o’clock, even though you don’t really need them to be in your head anymore.

Thankfully, there are also memories of a concert that went very well, on the whole, and was a great experience. There were a few dodgy moments, but nothing too major in the scheme of things. My mum came to stay for a couple of days, so she could come to the concert. I don’t think she’s been to see me in a concert for about 15 years, and it was really nice to have her there. She said she enjoyed it a lot and didn’t hear any mistakes (she knows the pieces quite well as she has sung them before) – but then she is my mum, so perhaps she would say that! The Armed Man went better than expected, and the Requiem slightly less well than it went the other week.

It was exhausting, particularly as we had almost a whole day of rehearsal beforehand  – I felt like I’d run a marathon the next day (not that I’ve ever run a marathon)! I don’t know how people can possibly have the energy to dance and/or act and sing at the same time!

However, my overriding thought about the concert is what a joy and privilege it is to sing in a choir. We sang in the cathedral on Saturday, which is an amazing place to sing in, in terms of the acoustics and otherwise, but it doesn’t matter about the setting: It’s the singing, the physical act of the production of sound, the harmonies, the blending, the listening, the sense of one-ness, the moments when it all fits together and something beautiful and unique is created – those things (and more that I can’t adequately describe) are what make singing in a choir such a joy, and so – quite literally on occasion – awesome.

Mozart by the sea

On Sunday, Other Choir went to a town on the coast to perform Mozart’s Requiem. The first challenge for the singing librarians (not to be confused with the Singing Librarian) was to get to the church on time. Unfortunately, having got to the town without any real problems, we then took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in a village just along the coast. Thinking we were in the right place, we walked along the road until we realised we weren’t where we thought we were and asked a lady for assistance. After we found out where we actually were, we thought we had no choice but to keep walking (despite the fact that it would have taken us at least half an hour (not to mention up a steep hill) to get there and we only had 25 minutes left until the rehearsal started!). However, we saw a bus stop and decided to ask someone who was waiting for the bus if one was likely to be along soon. She said one was, and lo and behold, it appeared round the corner. Fortunately for us, said bus was going where we wanted to go to, so we got on, and, even more fortunately, the nice person on the bus said she’d point the way to our destination once we got to the town. To cut a long story short, we arrived in the nick of time. Not the most conducive start to the afternoon, but never mind!

We had a short rehearsal before the performance, which was OK, although I was sat right at the back of a lot of people, so I couldn’t really hear anyone apart from the lady next to me. Fortunately, she knows what she’s doing! It was actually quite liberating, being so far back, and so spaced out (physically, not mentally!), as we’re usually really crammed in to our rehearsal room. The church we sang in is really lovely. There were lots of frescos on the walls, and a lot of intricately carved wood all over the place. There’s also an art installation consisting of lots of models of ships hanging from the ceiling in there at the moment, which was intriguing, but also rather distracting!

We had a short break for some food (or a trip to the pub!) and then the concert began. We were now gathered round the piano (as much as you can gather 100-or-so people around a piano), and I ensconced myself next to my usual choir neighbour, somewhere at the back. I’m just about tall enough to get away with this, thankfully.

We sang the Requiem through without any real break, apart from a short pause after the Lacrimosa. I have to admit I hadn’t been looking forward to the performance, but I enjoyed it – although ‘enjoyed’ seems like a bit of an insipid word to use in this context. It was exhausting, but in a good way. I was so tired when I got home that I didn’t even have the energy to knit!  And we have to do it all again on Saturday – as well as singing The Armed Man! Eek.

Mozart & Jenkins

A portion of the manuscript of Mozart's Requie...
A bit of Mozart's Requiem. Image via Wikipedia

…might make a good name for a detective duo. However, this post is not about detection, but about our continuing efforts to learn Mozart’s Requiem and Jenkins’s The Armed Man. I’m trying to listen to both pieces on a regular basis, which is helping me learn them to a certain extent,  but it would all be a lot easier if I was singing the soprano part, because that’s the one that’s usually the easiest to pick out. I find it quite hard to pick out the alto line. I probably need to sit down and listen to the pieces with the score in front of me – that might help.

As I’ve said before, The Armed Man is growing on me. A lot of it sounds deceptively simple, but actually some of those bits are unexpectedly difficult to sing. It’s also been quite interesting, now having the score, to see where the words come from. Some of them are quotations from Le Morte D’Arthur, there’s a poem by Kipling and ‘the Armed Man’ theme itself has quite an interesting history. The pieces as a whole is quite repetitive in places, but that’s good in terms of us trying to learn it all in time for the concert, although it also does that thing where you think it’s going to be the same again but then there’s just a slight difference that throws you off. That was a badly constructed sentence.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the rehearsals, I’m just worried about the performance, but this is not unusual. Still, we have a few weeks to go yet, so maybe (hopefully) I’ll be feeling better about it all by the time of the concerts.