Monday, 4 April 2016

Ladies of Courage

What a wonderful two weeks. Paradise Song School has been flourishing for the last fortnight and singers younger and older have been making the most incredible journeys in that happy time. There was a slight downside in that during week one it became clear that the virus which has decimated the whole island had got to a number of singers and illness halted the progress and enjoyment of poor K totally, then M, V and P during the course of the week. We seemed to lose folk each day to the dreaded bug. What an enormous shame for those who succumbed.

The singers who were fit, or manfully carrying on had a wonderful week. The repertoire gets more adventurous as the years go by and we had everything from Lady Macbeth by Verdi, through to Menotti's dark opera The Consul via the Angel's Farewell from Gerontious by Elgar and Butterfly's great aria Un bel di Vedremo. There was also the Mozart Agnus Dei from Mass in C and the brightest Handel aria in the book, So Shall the Lute Awake. It was so diverse and thus so interesting.

The ensemble day was of course messed up totally ! However ladies stepped in all over the place to make sure that everyone could still perform, even if their partner was laid low ! A very funny Gardener's Question Time version of Brush up your Shakespeare entertained us royally and another step in duet was kept together by teaching some basic conducting skills and making a nervous J assume the role of conductor extraordinaire !

I watch folk who come each year really progress and challenge themselves with more and more tricky pieces - I suppose what I mean is I love the fact that they get braver, and feel able to tackle music which would, in their own estimation, have been impossible to consider a few short years ago. Feeling confident enough to tackle 'real' or 'grown up' music is the best result I could ever ask for!

I used the word 'courage' and 'taking a risk' much in these precious two weeks. 'Courage' is an old fashioned word and not much used these days - it seems too connected with stiff upper lips or military conquest but infact it takes courage of mammoth proportions and in large spadefuls even to stand up in front of friends, family and peers - never mind an alien audience !

These courses are also full of emotional and spiritual moments - music and song presses inner buttons in places we did not know buttons existed. The cathartic effect is priceless and the dynamic in the hall flows from guffaws of laughter to tears of all emotional colours. Singers have to lay their heart on their sleeves and make themselves vulnerable in a way which is not usually part of 'normal' life, whatever that is, and boy they come through this grilling with such flying musical colours.

I sometimes wonder if I was ever that brave as a young professional mezzo soprano - my admiration for them is total.


Brush up your gardening tips !

Keep it together girls !


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