Saturday, 4 October 2014

Superb Ladies Evening and a Pianist's Backache ! Grrr "

We had a great Ladies Concert on Tuesday evening, they all sang so very well, and some of the less confident singers did themselves proud. We use these smaller and more informal concerts as a platform for outing pre or post exam repertoire, of something which has indeed been worked upon but now needs a performance opportunity. Pieces take on a stronger coating of polish when they have been performed with some adrenalin, and an audience who are there to be supportive, friendly and safe.

When I taught in Conservetoire we had something called Performance Class every term. Each student sang to each other, so an audience of peers, an accompanist and singing teacher. These classes were of great value for many reasons - indeed all the same reasons that ladies of a 'certain age' on a remote island Paradise, sing to each other and family and friends. Safe and nurturing space for experimenting with new types of song and style, gaining in presentation skills and doing all of this looking smart and learning those stage skills which one can only learn when one is out there and vulnerable ! I know of no trick or lesson scenario whereby these precious skills can be acquired.

We had three part songs as well as three duets, so ensembles loomed large, and two solos each. Each singer did themselves, and me, proud. Janet sang a quietly confident and musical 'Dusk' by Armstrong Gibbs, and showed she has finally conquered the 'looking the audience in the eye' nerves. Karen was majestic in her O Mio Babbino Caro, sung with such heart, drama even given that I simply play around the chords, it was a telling performance. Morag sang her Mendelssohn aria from St Paul with such gravitas and technique. The last singing we all heard from her was as Katisha, full of humorous vitriol and clever wit. This was from another planet and shows her supremes versatility. Eileen chose the song she borrowed from yorkshire Julia at Song School this year, These you Have Loved. It could have been written for her, and we were all very moved by her heartfelt dignity. Pam shocked all bar me and other Song School devotees, and gave us a dramatic, clever and beautifully graded performance of 'Mr Snow' from Carousel. It was so well delivered and excellent touches of drama, as well as a rock solid confidence ! Lorayne made her come back after three months of vocal quietitude by reducing many to tears with her deeply felt Porgi Amor from Figaro. Her dramatic ability combined with a newly soaring tone quality left the room quite breathless. June made her debut by joining with Karen to sing the evergreen duet 'All in the April Evening' by Roberton. She coped magnificently, and although very nervous, will not get away with not doing it again. She has a lovely warm alto voice and both she and Karen felt the sentiment deeply, and communicated this to us. It was lovely to have Monica join us for the part songs, adding depth and colour to the alto section !

We ended with a very funny Grandfather Clock, choosing for each of the singers to have a character, from poor North country bumpkin, to tiara wearing aristocrat. The honours fell to Pam however for her marvelous cockney cleaning lady, complete with broom and headscarf. Her accent would have graced the stage of Eastenders !

Some of our youngsters came to support their older singing buddies. This is one of the greatest strengths of Inner Sound. The total cohesiveness of the generations. 16 years or 60 years they all understand the bond which performing makes, and how it brings us together regardless of age, sex, colour, religion or shoe size. It was so gratifying to see them there, and clearly enjoying the moment.

The food of course afterwards was superb. The physical icing on the vocal cake ! Having said that, I have suffered from an overworked and painful back since last weekend, and after rehearsing then playing for the concert I needed to cancel some teaching to give my poor pianists spine a bit of a breather ! You will all be pleased to hear that it is finally getting better now............until another full week of teaching happens from Monday !

I blame the ladies !


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