Monday, 21 October 2013

the events - choir rehearsals and super sunday

So in the weeks leading up to our Events performances we rehearsed the songs at our regular rehearsals, and then on Super Sunday (which for us was Sunday 13 October, at Morley College), which is a rehearsal at the start of the week (Sunday or Monday) for all the choirs involved that week.

Doing the songs at our own rehearsals went pretty well. They had dropped one altogether ('that girl beside the fire', which I hadn't been that keen on anyway, a bit staccato, a bit tricky, a bit cold and the best bit was at the end when it went warm and harmonic, which was rather like 'we're all here'), and made changes to others (most notably to us the start of Bonkers, cutting the 'boom's and the 'tss tss' headphone leak rhythm). Apart from Bonkers, the other songs were the Norwegian Coffee Song, Soul, How Great Thou Art, Gavrilo Princip and We're All Here; also, one female choir member had to hum a lullaby-type tune under a speech by Claire.

Rosie in the choir would record the rehearsals of particular songs and email them around, which was a great help. The ATC had also prepared recordings of each piece, with different parts drawn out in the balance to help you learn your part. Those were helpful initially especially, although it was hard to pick out your own part particularly even on the specially done ones, and were also done more formally than our style, so as we made our own recordings of our own rehearsals I tended to rely on those.

Also, each choir made different decisions about what they would do with the harmonies. Because ours is a non-music-reading choir, Michelle had decided not try to teach us all the harmonies so we did more in unison - in particular, How Great Thou Art (except a couple of folk who could read music did the harmonies) and Gavrilo Princip (which I think was unison first time through then harmony second time through on paper; the harmony sounded good, especially when I heard it on the joint rehearsal, but unison had its own power too).

There were bits we were pretty at ease with, and others that were a bit trickier. Preparing for the dress rehearsal in particular we were a bit ropey in one bit of How Great Thou Art because it's the kind of tune that there are slight variants of, so even those of us who knew it (and I was surprised how many didn't seem to know it at all) knew different versions of it. But moreso there was a bit in Bonkers I found very hard to find the note for, and the Soul section was quite hard to get to grips with.

The Super Sunday rehearsal was good, but I felt a little less confident at the end of it, though I didn't let on, because I was sure we would pull things together in the pre-performance rehearsal on the Tuesday evening. It was quite similar in structure to the first rehearsal we - and I guess all the other choirs - had with James and Polina, except this time it was assumed we knew the music. Sally Christopher, the woman who had been involved in getting the choirs on board, was there to introduce, then Jessie Maryon-Davies, who was the pianist for this week's performances, warmed us up and ran through all the music. (She was very good.) Then in the second half Polina came and we went through the songs again in their place as she described the action to us.

We were all sat in our massed parts rather than in choirs, which meant that our lower ladies (and a couple of ladies from other choirs) were sitting with the tenors, since that was the part we were singing. (Essentially I seem to be the only tenor at the moment in Morris, which is why I'm a lower lady; I don't mind being a lower lady.) There were bits I was more confident about afterwards, and it was interesting to hear the other choirs doing harmonies we weren't doing (the Gavrilo Princip was the only bit I thought it would have been good to have got, if we'd had more time).

But there were bits where there had been slight changes from the versions we'd been working from in our rehearsals. Those were the bits I was a bit concerned about, not because they were difficult, but because about a third of our choir wasn't there, and I thought that on the Tuesday night we were either going to have to unlearn the changes or cement them and also have the others learn them. At our last choir rehearsal we had practiced for the first time an ending for Bonkers which involved just three voices, including me, but when I saw the play (the day after that rehearsal, but before the Super Sunday) they sang that with all the voices so I was neither surprised nor disappointed when that was how it was done at Super Sunday.