Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A part of me restored

Last Tuesday, I had my first choral audition in 5 years. No doubt I have moaned before about not performing at Christmas for the past two years, and this festive season I could take it no more; I had to join an ensemble! So I took to Google and found the City Chamber Choir, based near St Paul's. In an over-enthusiastic moment, I thought I'd get in touch, just in case they were looking for any rusty second sopranos (at least at this point I hoped I could still call myself a second soprano)!

I had a realisation the other day, which still seems most odd to me, that I have not been in an ensemble the entire time I've been writing this blog. Two long years have gone by, and I am sad to have spent so much time apart from musical performance. However, this year sees a shift, and with carols only two days away, I am beyond excited!

The thought of an audition after a day raising my voice to project across an enormous classroom, let alone after two years of no choral singing left me rather weak at the knees. Fortunately, with half term the week before last, I had requested that mother dig out my old music for us to bash our way through, first to discover whether I could actually still sing, second which therefore would make a good audition piece.

We settled on an old favourite, Adam Lay Y Bounden, and the day arrived. Voice lost part way through the day, I wasn't particularly full of hope. On the other hand, I wasn't feeling as nervous as I knew I should have been, either. I guess it had just been such a long time since anything of the sort that I'd forgotten about nerves! It was an atrocious day for the weather, raining continuously meaning that my feet were soaked upon arrival. Umbrella up, ducking and diving between speedy city slickers, I frantically followed Google maps (as is my style) to find my destination, hardly allowing myself to believe that it could really only take twenty minutes to reach from school.

Nevertheless, at quarter past (due at half) six, I found myself outside the door of a church half melded into an office building; The Gresham Centre. Lights were on, but nobody was home. Having walked around the sides I could access, I finally admitted defeat and called the lady with whom I had been having email contact. I discovered that they were meeting in an alternative location before the rehearsal, but would arrive in a short while. Not fancying the thought of standing outside the door in the rain (I hoped that if my singing did not sound at all up to scratch, I might at least be looking like I knew what I was doing), I found a cup of tea and a soft seat to shelter with for the time being.

My audition went past in rather a blur. I have never sung a scale in my life, yet there I was, singing scales as though it was all completely normal. Next came my prepared piece, and the acoustic was very flattering indeed (despite the fact that by this point, choir members were descending and I was definitely shaking like a leaf). Finally, the sight singing. After the sheer comic value of mine and mum's afternoon of singing, I was full of suspense, wondering (but probably not actually wanting to know) what on earth was going to happen. Praised with 'well you obviously know what you're doing' as the piece (and the audition) came to an end, I suppose I must have made it through without too many rogue notes!

I was asked to stay for the rehearsal, so took my seat amongst the second sopranos.

It's been such a long time since I've been in a choir. As I sat there (on the front row, which I'm usually known to avoid), I was thrown back to university choir and Kings Lynn Festival Chorus before that; to my antics, incessant texting, giggling and 'subtly' drinking red wine. I knew this rehearsal would be of a different nature, but I was still feeling highly nostalgic and completely in my element.

It probably sounds strange, but I love the way that singing feels to me like I'm 'playing' your voice, like I'm actually pressing keys somewhere inside me to produce the notes, and the way harmonies come together in a full choir is such a lovely feeling. I'd also begun to forget what it was like to spend time with other classical musicians; quite the stark contrast to the circles I now move in (of course I was the youngest by about 10 years, as usual)!

All in all, a glorious feeling. After the rehearsal I was told they'd love to offer me a place, so I beamed and maybe even sang a little all the way home! Now after my first proper rehearsal, I can officially say I am so pleased to feel like I have got a missing part of me back. Also, I am beyond excited for my first performance of Christmas carols on Friday (never too early)! Life in London really is coming together!

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