Friday, 9 March 2012

A Piper by Michael Head and the Red Whiskered Bulbul

I had a glorious morning off today before I traveled to my next venue. I lounged, surfed the Internet a bit, had the latest allowable breakfast, and generally made the most of some down time.

It seemed deceptively easy to find from my given directions, but I was glad I left enough time to get lost. The outer reaches of Hong Kong Island, although designated 'Urban', are quite alike, as with most inner city built up areas, I looked around after emerging from the MTR and visibly quaked !

What I did see however, was a pair of what I now know to be Red Whiskered Bulbuls! I heard the most vibrant and tuneful singing from the top of some small town trees. In between my panic at getting lost the moment was calmed by these pretty little birds 'fluting' around my head. Their little pointed tufts standing to attention like a rather conservative Mohican. I stopped, mid panic, and marvelled at the decibels forthcoming from such little bodies. Size does not matter !

In my extremely comprehensive adjudicator's folder I found a map and a photo of the high rise church which was my venue. Well to be honest all high rise buildings here are VERY similar. It was raining - well not like Paradise rain you understand - but enough to ensure that I would be a little damp if I walked around too much.

I opened the file and must have looked like a mad professor / ultra keen tourist who needs to have his/her notes around all the time, whilst the general public navigated around my person giving me quizzical looks of pity. I eventually found the building by 360 degree sky gazing and finding the distinctive top floor windows, blue and rounded like a moon base bay window. I used my nose and headed for it, and after a few twists and turns I found myself at the East Commercial Building, all 60 floors of it! I eventually got into the lift and here I am!

My class was the under 18 soprano solo which I had heard last week with not a huge amount of successful performances, so I was feeling a little dubious. Michael Head, Irish poem and lots of key changes. Mmmmmm....

Well I had to eat my own humble pie. It was an astonishing class, at least 5 of the singers could have been winners on another day, and I was blown away by the stylish and sophisticated performing. One young lady was magnificent, her English was superb and her tone quality equal to any I have heard anywhere. I wanted to jump up and teach her, on the spot! Of course I did nothing of the sort!

My comments were so complimentary and positive, I got the feeling that the girls were incredulous. Anyway, I awarded my 90, 89 and 88 for 1,2,&3 placings and felt I had really listened to some high quality singing.

The next class was the under 18 Alto class which had as it's set piece the miraculous Silent Noon by Vaughan Williams. The story changed, sadly, and I inwardly groaned as this most beautiful of all VW's songs was over sung, much to speedy and with little care for being in tune! I must have written ' take care with your tuning at, 'like Rosy blooms' 54 times. As there were 15 singers with 23 more to come later this evening, perhaps 54 is a small exaggeration, but who's counting! It felt like 54 tired strokes of the black roller ball!

What I really meant was - Aaagh! My poor ears!

But I am, of course, much too polite, and I just kept smiling. Stiff upper lip saves the day.

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