Sunday, 4 October 2009

Blog From Alice (Ensemble Conductor)

Alice photographed in rehearsal

What can I say? It's been an amazing week. I wanted to contribute to the blog as we were going through the process, but every night I had so much stuff to look over, I had no time. Last week was so overwhelming. I entered into the project with great anticipation. Joe and I had started out by singing in the last year's MHBB choir, only to somehow end up conducting it (it's a long story...). Rehearsing, practising and performing at the Royal Festival Hall last November was one of the most rewarding and most challenging things I have ever done. It was certainly my best and favorite gig. Ask anyone who was involved or anyone who came to see it. It was special.

When I was asked to conduct with Joe again, my initial reaction was "YEEEEES!"...but as I thought deeper, the nerves kicked in. I was thinking of all the work that we had to do, the sleepless nights counting bars in my head, the strange looks on the train when I was conducting as I was listening to the record, and what a huge performance we had to live up to. AND this new choir didn't know that I was a total novice conductor/choir leader. AND this was part of Music Week, traditionally a space for the Goldsmiths music students to play what they wanted, and we had busted in telling them it was singing only. Ouch. I have to admit, I was a little scared.

So Monday morning, Joe and I arrived at Deptford Town Hall, our notebooks and pencils at the ready. As the day went on, I really got into it. These people can sing! We went from being a bunch of people - some new to singing, some new to Goldsmiths, some even new to the country - to a proper choir. I can't believe how much everyone gave to this week. The professionalism, commitment, thought and kindness that was displayed by the students was amazing.  Everyone completely gave themselves to the process and the amount we achieved in 5 days was incredible.

Friday's performance was brilliant. My arms ached from a week of flailing them around, my legs hurt from practising Struan and Kate's dance moves and jumping up and down like a loon, my eyes hurt from lack of sleep, my head hurt from too much information in a too small brain. Fortunately, the choir didn't seem to notice and carried on being totally amazing and sang like pros and that all important intention was present at every turn. One Life in particular was so powerful. It felt like everyone was singing it for someone. I really had to hold it together before I turned into a blubbering wreck. Thanks to the choir for their support and words of encouragement. It really means a lot to me. And thanks to the conducting giant that is Big Joe Bentley. I'm so glad that we're in it again together.

I am so impressed by and proud of the choir. It's only been a few days, but I feel like friendships are forming and a community is starting. I'm even starting to remember some names! It all sounds very idealistic, but I don't feel that we're in a bubble. This all feels very real, very possible, very exciting. I wish that more people could have the opportunity to be part of something as special as this. I'm really grateful to the hardwork of Matthew and Eska and for making this possible and seeing the potential in the people around them.

I can't wait to continue building on the great work we've started and get everything polished and perfect for the big day. And then after the Barbican performance, keep on singing and take over the world. And I might remember a few more names.

See you all on Tuesday. 5pm sharp!

Lots of love,

Alice X

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