Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Day 2 -Blog From Van (Production Assistant)

Day 2 - We had Matthew Herbert himself come in and talk about the music we are all performing this week. He discussed the thoughts, feelings and inspiration behind the music. Every song having it story to it development. What I found interesting is it wasn't written or recording in a way that most musicians are used to recording. (i.e going into a studio and recording with instruments, with band members). Matthew Herbert has recorded parts of his album in Mc Donalds, with the staff adding ambience to his music. Instead of play drum, he has produced drum beats with objects, match boxes and newspapers. Every song has a concept, often a political one that which determines where and what he may record. After learning about the foundations of his music, it really made you feel like you are apart of something special, apart of a journey and a musical moment in history.

Although we worked on two new songs, the highlight was certainly the visit from Matthew Herbert. 


At this point I also want to touch on the feeling of community. This is something I always long for as it doesn't come around to often. I grew up in a community, a nice one at that but over time it changed. The feeling of togetherness became a memory instead of reality. I've have only done a few things whereby I have felt that same sense of community, where people will work hard to make something work. Where peoples differences simply doesn't matter. To be apart of something like this is special.


Day 3 Blog Entry From Angela (Production Assistant)

Hello everyone!

Today has been a really good day for the ensemble!
We have had three days of rehearsals so far and the ensemble is already sounding and looking amazing. Well done guys!

The energy and the excitement that every single person projects is very powerful and inspiring to me and that's why today I decided to interview two ensemble students: Henriette and Lee.

Henriette is a third year Popular Music Student. She was part of the ensemble last year and found the whole experience unique. Today she said that there are quite a few differences this year : "There are more people for a start, especially tenors but that is always good! Also the choreography is different which can be very confusing, but the good thing is that we have the whole week of rehearsals so we don't forget anything!".

I also ask Henriette what her favorite song is and she answers that she has more than one, she takes some time to think because she seems to love all the songs and in the end she says: 'It's really difficult to choose one and we haven't gone through every song yet but I can say that my favorite so far are 'Breathe' and 'Battery' because they are both such powerful songs and the harmonies are really interesting!'.
Thank you Henriette for being so helpful and to have dedicated your break to my small interview.

After interviewing Henriette who had experienced the ensemble last year, I was interested to ask some questions to first year Goldsmiths student: Lee Burnett.

Lee has just joined the ensemble this year. Lee is a guitarist and never sang in a choir before! I asked him what he thinks about the ensemble: "I think it's brilliant! It gives the opportunity to everyone to sing without being under the spotlight alone. I've never done anything like it before!''.

I also asked him what he expects to gain at the end of the Vocal Group experience and he says: "Three or four things: To get to know all the students from all three years, learn about how a choir functions and getting over the fear of singing in front of people. I also hope understand how the conductors work, how they approach each section of the choir.  It would be very interesting and useful for me to learn these things because I want to become a teacher. The enthusiasm that conductor Alice puts in each song is great, this makes us want to do better... we don't want to disappoint her you know!".

Thank you Lee for sharing your thoughts with me. He's such a nice guy!

It seems to me that everyone is so enthusiastic and very much involved with the whole project and this makes me feel so happy!
All in all it has been a very busy day. It has been challenging making sure that all the props were at the right places at the right times but I had my favorite guys to help me out! Thank you!

Keep up the good work ;-)
This is all for today, now I'm going to rest for another full day tomorrow!


Day 3 - Blog Entry From Karolin (Member Of Ensemble)

What a day...

First I have the brilliant idea of getting the District Line at Embankment thinking it will get me there on time, but no trains stop at New Cross. This is so lame, honestly, who wouldn't wanna go there? But don't panic, I still make it in (more or less) on time.

Today we start rehearsed in the Georgewood Theatre (in the drama department), which is nice because it's a change of location. Not so nice for Van (Ensemble Assistant) who had to carry the box of newspaper from location to another. 

Even before the warm up I feel much better today. I think my body kind of accepts the fact that we are working for the whole week and stopped the riot against me. We stretch, we focus on the horizon, we breathe, we walk, we grow...and I feel much lighter. Relaxed.

Alice goes through vocal warm ups with us. She really opens up to the group which is fantastic to watch and most enjoyable to participate in. The patience the crew display is just unbelievable. You'd think we're all mature enough to be quiet but no. You still get told to shut up! What was she saying? It's like working with little kids and I don't exclude myself. I love the motivation jokes, they totally work with me...

We worked on "Waiting", which is much better today. I feel more concentrated, maybe it's the artificial light or the fact we are actually standing on a stage. Maybe it's just two days of hard training, rehearsing and constant that's how it works! It sounds great and even the movements are sinking in. Well, not all of them, but most. With all the tapping, slapping and drumming, it's hard to imagine what the songs are like without the choreography. The songs would just be half-full. 

Can't wait to see the videos of them. It's great within the group but I imagine it look awesome from the front. 
I'm sure Van will make at least 10 videos. This woman is everywhere armed with cameras, recorder and laptop. Great job Van!

Later on we were introduced to a representative of the British Council, who gave us a talk about their work. It was fascinating to hear about the concert at The Barbican and what it represents. I got a bit nervous thinking about, but I'm sure I'll get over it after the gig. This is BIG people! 

Eska was here and we started work on "Batteries", which is an absolutely amazing song. I think we all picked up this song quite fast and it sounds great. To be totally honest I'm not sure how comfortable I will be with a black pillow case over my head... hmmm. The song is really strong and throws you into a very special mood, we feel the story, we tell the story and we know the story and I already I get goosebumps.

Lunch break exercise: find people you never talked to in the group, what a great idea and I have a really nice chat with Katanja, Clement and Alex.

So I leave once more to come back tomorrow with my harmonies in my head to come back tomorrow and sing my harmonies to leave once more with my harmonies in my head to come back and shine... oh yes, can't wait!

Live long and prosper,


Day 3 - Blog Entry From Roisin Ellen Brophy (Member Of Ensemble)

Who ever claims they can't sing, has never tried. The rehearsals so far has proved that. Ok, so we're all music students, but the past three days have shown that effort, passion and dedication can transform a regular voice into something outstanding. As a first year student being thrown into a choir as big as this and working as much as we are, is quite daunting. But after delving into the mind of Matthew Herbert and seeing the exact message his lyrics are trying to portray, it has only made the choir more eager to give a moving performance. 
I truly feel privileged to be given such an opportunity and the rehearsals have already taught me a lot about my voice, working as a team of musicians and dedication to my future career in music. I'm sure this will only lead to a great night in the Barbican Hall which I would be thrilled to be a part of.

Roisin Ellen Brophy

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Day 2 - Blog Entry From Karolin (Member Of Ensemble)

So it's day two.

It feels like I've done this for ages. Everyone looks familiar... tired but familiar. We get rid of our shoes, we find our places and we have a really nice warm up in the morning with Struan (Choreographer) and a vocal warms up with Alice. I like both warm ups a lot because every movement just makes sense and it gives me time to wake up.

Oh yes my feet hurt from yesterday, my back says hello (helloooooooohooo...) and my shoulders are tense (maybe that's from my heavy bag full of stuff that I don't need for today). 

The exercise - We walk around alone but acknowledging the others, in pairs with eye contact, we bump into each other and as we walk alone (which was really interesting), suddenly it seemed like I was alone in the room which was a weird experience.

We find our places (more or less) and start on 'Breathe' and yes this song is all about breathing. I feel really dizzy after a while repetitively singing 'in' and 'out'.

Matthew Herbert arrives. YES it's Matthew Herbert. This guy standing in the back, that's his work we are doing here. Simon (Music Tutor) pushes him to the mic and we get a speech..... preach..... oh yes..... amen.... absolutely amazing. What a personality. There are still people out there, that want to change something, but not only for themselves but for something greater. I have to admit, it absolutely inspired me, or better it motivated me to keep going and I'm even more happy to be part of this project. Yes ma'am, now you can give me some jazz hands! It's not that you sit and think 'oh yes he is so wise...', but rather 'cool, what can I do?'.

Me like!

So I go with more energy into the next song after a fascinating introduction by Matthew Herbert. I'm not so delighted about singing along with John Major, (learning that he ended up being apart of the record) but his part is quite small. Although I feel like my head has the capacity of a sieve today, we slowly get there and this wonder of amazing sound and movement happens again. How do we do this guys? This is so strong!

Yes I am so tired, yes everything just hurts and yes my head is spinning, but YES I really enjoy this. Did I say yes? Yeeeeeeeees!

Lot's of love and see you tomorrow,


Memo to me... Breeeeeeeeeeathe!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Day 1 - Blog From Van (Production Assistant)

I have not done a blog before but I shall give it ago. I'm so excited and need to share with you all. Today was amazing, crazy, shocking, overwhelming........just a bundle of emotion. Why?????
I am apart of and witnessing a unique experience. In a space of a few hours I have seen an ensemble bring a song to life. The Story by Matthew Herbert was the first song we worked on today. It's about stories that aren't represented, supported, that fail to reach the masses. Stories that are important to a minority but not those who have power to amplify it to the majority. Deeeep innit? So I'm here trying to document this, take cool pictures and videos, but find myself stopping and simply watching and listening. Everyone in that room has a story. They have a story to why they decided to come to the rehearsal. They have a voice that tells a story and when their voices blend together like that, it is POWERFUL.
And this comes from an ensemble that has just learnt that song in a few hours??????? WOW, I'm blown away.


Day 1 - Blog Entry From Karolin (Member Of Ensemble)

Ok, so I said I'm gonna write something for the blog, but where to start...

Maybe in the morning...

So my head is still buzzing from last weeks mental training on 'who is going crazy first of an overload of information' and I try to remember what we were supposed to bring to first day of music week. Oh yeah... newspaper, batteries and a plastic bottle. Great, I have none of them. So on my way to college I buy The Guardian. I thought about just getting a metro, but you wanna make a statement on a first day, don't you?

I also bought batteries (the long lasting one's, you never know what crazy things we're gonna do with them) and a plastic bottle (good I'm thirsty anyway). 
So I arrive on time afraid of getting too much attention in the morning and I am. To be totally honest I'm quite nervous about today, not in a bad 'oh my god I'm gonna fail' way but in a 'this is all so exciting, but you don't wanna show it too much' way. 

We have an introduction by Simon Deacon (Music Tutor), we get introduced to the team working on this project. More names! There's Eska, with an energy that is exciting in itself, Van, Alice...... and more names I am trying to remember.

First task, get rid of your shoes, ok. I have a hole in my sock. Great! 

This is just so nice. A warm up but from a special kind. As we are such a big group and we barely know one another, everyone has to find his/her own place and space in the room.  It really helps to get focused and get prepared for the day. Wondering around the room, breathing to the horizon, imagine the world. Where are you from? Where are the others from? And knowing  you are not the only one... that's a nice feeling.  Now it doesn't feel so crowded anymore and I feel more centered and as part of the group.

The attention is all yours Eska and so we work on the first song "The Story". We listen to the song... it is really good, I like it. The team work amazing together and they all accomplish their tasks. The pressure from this morning vanishing into thin air. The first harmonies are sung together and I'm there. This sounds just great and we are not all singers, but it just works. Everyone just seems to be really enjoying themselves. Good energy.

Eska and the team are really working us and when we start with the newspaper we get really into it. Although my feet start to hurt and I'm stepping from one foot to the other, we get the song and choreography down and still find time to smile. After 2 hours Eska has to leave, but I think everyone got the concept of the song.

After the long awaited break, things seemed easier when we got back. I know my place now. My feet and back ache but I'm not alone. We find ourselves rather quickly progressing onto the second song. It seems to be easier and sounds as great as the the first. It fascinates me that with such simple elements of movement, sound, harmonies, we create something so big and powerful. It sounds just amazing and I'm so happy to be here and be part of this. My excitement lasts all day and I think the same for the others. We finally stop our first day of music week. I feel really tired but satisfied and am looking forward to tomorrow.

Memo to me... get a pair of socks without a hole but that's really "nothing of great importance".

Cheers Karolin