Monday, 11 April 2016

Successful performance

The stage area at the Convention Centre is low
and the audience looks down at us.
You cannot see all the percussion section in this photo.
I am awfully late posting this. Better late than never.

Recently my choir, the Darwin Chorale, was involved in a very successful concert. A brilliant success. I was so full of myself for being part of it! A little more realistic now.

In the first half of the program the Darwin Symphony Orchestra played the Coriolan Overture by Beethoven, some Mendelssohn excerpts from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and some original works by Cathy Applegate, a local composer. The theme for this half was a celebration of Shakespeare. Everyone was a volunteer and the quality of the music was excellent. A group of people visiting from Houston was suitably surprised that such a high standard can be maintained in a place that superficially appears isolated and basic. (Snobs?)

The Mendelssohn included the Scherzo, Intermezzo, Nocturne, and Wedding March that many people instantly recognise. Six local celebrities dressed in costume added narration. This was very well received by the audience. I missed this because I was in the green room by then.

In the 'green room' doing final voice exercises before we go on stage.
Cathy Applegate took three of Shakespeare's sonnets and expressed the images through orchestral music. For each, an actor read the lines first so the audience could fully appreciate the messages. I admit I was surprised how easily it worked. The pieces were quite short and really touched me.

In the second half the Chorale sang Stabat Mater by Karl Jenkins. Actually, we omitted a couple of pieces but we sang most of it. Stabat Mater celebrates Easter and expresses the anguish of Mary as she sees her son crucified on the cross. That sounds rather grim, but when you sing it, that is not how it feels. The core is a prayer from the Catholic church service which has been interpreted by many composers over the years. I am sure you realise that in Europe for centuries the Church was the major market for music; the wealthy and theatres were minor supporters in comparison. Jenkins is a contemporary composer and he re-interprets some of the old ideas but adds new layers by incorporating bits from other cultures, places and times. Jenkins is Welsh and so his music just automatically contains little touches reflecting Welsh choral music. It is always a pleasure to sing or to hear.
Altos always sing fabulously well!!!
After the concert finished I attended the after-party when many speeches were given, hair was let down, and everyone relaxed after so many long exacting rehearsals and great effort. Huge theatre. Massive crowd. We had rehearsed diligently and put our souls into the performance so the party rocked.

If you ever have the chance to be in a concert like this, take the chance. It is always about teamwork and cooperation. The orchestra is a team and is not a bunch of soloists who just happen to sit together. If you enjoy big sporting matches you will understand that behind the scenes many people collaborate to make that end product. Choirs and orchestras are the same. For me, being part of the beautiful sound is uplifting. My daily life is plain, but when I contribute my tiny bit to a show like this the feeling is extraordinary. Try it yourself. Oh, you will not get any gold medals; you grow as you go.

A section of the party crowd listening to some speeches.


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