Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Certain circumstances arising over the last week mean I no longer feel able – or inclined – to carry on. There are moves afoot to change the essence of the blog content and I can (and will) only write as I have always written, so I think it better to bow out gracefully now than to be pushed out later or squashed into conformity with other people’s idea of what is appropriate. I would have liked to keep going while Ollie was with us but I’m afraid I just can’t. To those of you who have enjoyed my efforts and will miss them, a heartfelt apology. To those of you who haven’t, well – c’est tout; no more to worry about. My last post was my last post so hats off, y’all and salute the Rudsambee banner (or just me, if you prefer). I have enjoyed my time with you – in spite of the effort and HOURS of composition involved when I could have been doing far more useful things. Of course I never would have been doing them anyway but I like to play the martyr whenever possible. I shall have to find something else to write nonsense about now. Ideas, anyone? All suggestions gratefully received.
I don’t know if we will find anyone foolish (and generally idle) enough to take my place but, as you see, the times they are a-changing and perhaps the blog has had its day.
Thank you for reading.
Monday, 28 May 2012
What a disgrace.
And tomorrow I need to be able to sing because we are doing our last-ever-recording with Ol as Lord and Master.
It is only 10 o’clock or so but sleep seems a sensible option. However... surely it’s too early. And I need to get at least half of this written before I climb the wooden hill to Bedfordshire.
Is it two weeks since last I wrote? I believe it is. Week one I could have done it but didn’t know what to say and week two I could have done it but was in London and then Hungary and then Slovakia and then Austria and then Germany so it was all too complicated. No, no – that’s all wrong. Week one was week two. Week one which I didn’t write about because I didn’t know what to say and was travelling about all over the place. Week two I wasn’t there, was I, because I was in all those other places so I could have written about my holiday but not about choir practice. That’s all sorted now, then. Thank goodness for clarity of mind.
Tomorrow we hit the Reid Concert Hall, 11.45 a.m. sharp (hopefully the last time all day we will be in that mode), ready to begin recording at 12 noon. I presume the 15 minutes is for a warm-up but it may just be there to make sure we are all present by mid-day. I am working for an hour or so in the morning so could well be a little late. If you see a distracted creature rushing through the Meadows at around five to twelve tomorrow, croaking and warbling a badly-tuned arpeggio or two as she goes, that will be me. I will endeavour to remember my music folder.
Jenny is coming to sing with us (knew she couldn’t stay away for long) and she won’t have hers, will she? She never did when she was actually a member of the choir so what hope now she’s left? One of us must make an effort. Having said that, having my music is going to prove a little tricky as someone went off with it the other night and left me theirs. I think it was probably Heather. She is supposed to be an organised person but I suspect she’s anything but... just grabs any folder that takes her fancy and waltzes off into the night. How she could mistake my battered old file, chewed at the corners and shedding loose sheets left, right and all over for the one I had to bring home, shiny new and neatly ring-bound, I’ll never know - but she did. Or someone did. I may be maligning the poor girl; in which case, heartfelt apologies and a compensatory hug. I am tempted to keep the shiny file. While I don’t really, actually, honestly, chew the corners of mine it does look rather as if the mice have got at it – I suppose they may have – and the dog-eared music inside it is scribbled with blog-reminding messages instead of singing instructions whereas the one I have now is (shiny and) full of pristine sheets marked only with useful hints as to dynamics and expression and phrasing. Could be handy, don’t you think? Especially tomorrow.
OK, enough for now – it is 11 o’clock. Still early but I think I have earned my bed-time. More after the recording. And the dinner towards which we will be heading immediately on finishing. The rest of this will be an After Dinner Blog and I your After Dinner Blogetteer. A new career? I need one...
Sunday 22:04 Very nearly bed-time again. Not sleeping well (no change there, then) and a busy day which included gardening and tennis and two long walks, in the heat. And I’m getting a cold – how the ****???? So sleepy. But must finish this, must finish this, must finish this...
Yesterday was great fun. Hard work, but not too onerous (unless you’re Kay, who was feeling the pressure). Sadly, being stuck in the Reid Concert Hall for several hours on one of the few sunny days Edinburgh has to offer per year was a real downside to the exercise but we got a half hour break in which to sit out in Bristo Square and, once we’d finished, we sat in the garden at Teviot, supping alcoholic beverages until it was time for dinner (at The Nile Valley. Yum, by the way – if you’ve not been there, go), so it could have been worse.
As for the recording – all seemed to go to plan. We got through the pieces in reasonable time, finishing a little earlier than planned. A small hiccup when it transpired that one of the mics had given up the ghost but, with a bit of tweaking of those still operating, the problem was overcome without holding us up for more than a few minutes. Anne came back to play the piano for us – for The Seal Lullaby and Nu tändas tusen juleljus – and the harpsichord for the two Lully pieces. Sebastian played his cello, beautifully as ever for the same pieces and Tamsin was there to play her harp and to help out with the squeaky-high singing bits which Kay was panicking about performing on her own (for no good reason, she can do it brilliantly but I daresay the prospect is a very scary one). Jenny came back, as mentioned above; sans most of her music, as mentioned above, but perfectly contented to make the tunes up where she had forgotten them. Behm also returned having been tricked into joining us by Ollie who, some days ago, casually asked him if he’d any plans for this Saturday and when told no, immediately claimed him as a much-needed extra tenor. It was lovely to see them all.
Most importantly, considering why we had gathered, was that Helen was there. Helen was there to do the recording, along with her friend – Ali – and was forced to join in a few songs as well, much to her disgust. I do hope that they managed to get enough material to make a reasonable CD [initial reports are positive]. We did about three (is it a ‘take’ when it’s singing or is that just in films?) whatevertheyares [yes, takes] of each piece and somewhere within those three efforts it is to be hoped that there are enough accurate bars to string together into a whole piece of reasonably professional-sounding music. With one thing and another our rehearsal time has been a bit curtailed and we were probably not quite as well prepared as we might have been but we worked hard and were quite frighteningly focussed and quiet for several hours – which is a real feat for us, let me tell you – so I think we deserve some success. If anyone can turn our efforts into a sellable item it is our Helen, so I look forward to hearing the results. Now we just have to come up with a title and I have to come up with a design and then – Bob’s in the building.
Dinner was fun – there were fourteen of us altogether – poor Heather, who did all the organising, was unable to join us and had to go home instead (to a barbeque, so it could have been worse) and Anne and Tamsin left once they’d finished making their contributions earlier in the day; Douglas, Behm and Sebastian all disappeared without explanation, but the rest of us, at Arno’s suggestion, graced the basement of the aforementioned eatery with our rambunctious presence and had a great time. The conversations were wide-ranging and, at one end of the table at least, somewhat dubious of subject matter [highlight was probably Helen reading out product reviews of Veet for Men from Amazon and if that doesn't sound hilarious and dubious, look them up!]. We had the place to ourselves for a fair time but then some other poor souls came to join us and had to contend with our noisy hilarity (is that tautology? Can’t decide so it’s staying). But at least we didn’t sing.
We had to say goodbye to Sarah who has been with us such a short time, but a new job means she will no longer be free on Wednesday evenings so she has had to bid us farewell. She has been a lovely presence and we will miss her but wish her all the best in her future endeavours and will be delighted, I’m sure I speak on behalf of us all, to welcome her back anytime to parties and even to the choir itself if she is able to re-join one day. Having spent some time recording The Irish Blessing we didn’t find it in ourselves to sing it all over again at her. I don’t suppose she has any idea what a lucky escape she had.
Speaking of the Irish blessing: at my suggestion we altered the last words of our usual version. My Irish mother gets very upset when she hears "...in the palm of his hand" because she insists it should be "...in the hollow...". If she is going to have to listen to this CD (which she is, like it or not) I think it only fair not to torture her. Luckily I got my (her) way about this as several other people thought my (her) version a better one. Unfortunately Jenny has not been at rehearsals. She has been singing "palm" for years and years and years. Yesterday she mostly sang "pollow".
Onto a third page and ready to fall asleep over the keyboard...
Good night, Readers-mine. Until next time. Sleep tight and squash the bed-bugs.
Sunday, 6 May 2012
Ollie suggested last week that those who were interested get together early this week to have a sing of Kullervo’s Message, a piece by Tormis which the small group folk (when we had a small group) started work on AGES ago and never finished. I was part of this petit assemblage and decided that my presence would likely be an essential element in getting this work going again so off I set, very much earlier than usual these days, music in hand and vague memories of how it sounded in my head. Not that it necessarily sounded there as it should have, of course - I did say we never perfected it, didn’t I? And then, my memory... Arriving at John and Susan’s, I found a strong smell of cooking dinner, the house owners (just about to sit down to said dinner) and Robin. No sign of anyone else. Particularly no sign of Ol. John and Susan were just back from Spain and had not been reading emails (really! Call themselves dedicated?) and so had no idea at all that there was a suggestion of early-meeting-keen-people gathering at 6.50. Probably just as well that no one else did. Robin and I were easily dealt with; given a cup of tea and many questions to answer regarding events while J&S were away. What were our impressions of the candidates etc. I have to say that Mr and Mrs Wexler seemed to have rather decided impressions of these prospectives without actually having met any of them. Final discussions, when they at last take place, really will be interesting.
Ollie appeared eventually, admitting that he had fallen asleep. Whether we are to try this early-meeting mullarkey again next week I don’t know. I shall certainly turn up to sing if required. Let me rephrase that: I shall certainly turn up to sing, if we do.
I am sorry – I am feeling utterly uninspired tonight and I really feel I must get this done now or it will never be finished. So – this is pretty boring and, I’m afraid, will remain so. You have my permission to give up on it if you wish. Goodbye to those of you with sense and a life; for the rest of you here’s a very little more tedium for you. I’ll get it done as soon as possible. Promise.
Ollie had we women try a few verses of Mateusz which, for the first time, we managed to sing first(ish) time without falling completely to pieces; rhythm a bit dodgy to begin with and pronunciation somewhat shaky in places but I think we might actually be able to put this on the CD if we all work on it at home.
IF WE ALL WORK ON IT AT HOME.
It was a lovely after-rehearsal chat with lots of people staying back for a cup of tea – almost like old times. Les bons mots? Away wiz ze fairrries, naturellement.
I got a lift home from Marie-Claire, lazy critter that I am.
‘Til next time.
PS The last two postings seem to have lacked any sign of paragraphing. The paragraphs were there when the blog left my fingertips. Christopher???????? [sorry, Blogger has clearly gone funny since the 'new look'!]
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
We had a prospective alto, Marisa, ‘sitting in’ for the first half of the evening. She joined in the singing, naturally, but left half way as she wasn’t feeling particularly well. I have no idea what she thought of us, having had no chance to ask, but I daresay that question will be answered on Wednesday if she turns up again. There will be a healthy alto section if she joins. The basses are dwindling – though temporarily; hopefully the two that have gone will be back before too long, the tenors are always a problem (!) and even the sopranos have been a bit thin on the ground recently. Yey! for the altos – we will take over and reign supreme. Perhaps Tormis knew what he was up to after all, when he wrote the alto line above the soprano.
What did we sing? Oops. You’ve guessed it. No bloody idea. Something for the CD, I imagine.
Organised Ollie – those are two words not often witnessed side-by-side – presented us each with a list of what he proposes to put on the CD and what we will be singing in St Giles in August. I know.... imagine! The St Giles’ list includes Nikos’s Brodmann area 47 and a few other pieces written by students contemporary with the Lord and Master, (even one by the L&M himself. At long last. It had better be good after all this time waiting for it). So it will be an interesting concert, to say the least.
What a way to go.
Oh, now I’m welling up. Can’t see the screen. Will have to stop.
Speaking of which, I am doing badly with my on-line communications; keep on upsetting people. Might have to hand this job to someone else and steer clear of interwebby mischief-making.
Not that I mean to make mischief.
Not often, anyway.
Saturday, 21 April 2012
I am going to yoga now so there is no knowing just when ‘later’ might be... you may wonder why I have made a start on this with so little time in which to finish it but I think I have explained before that carrying on is much easier than beginning and, with even so few sentences set down as this, there is more hope of a completed blog winging its cyber-path to Christopher in a timely fashion than if I put off writing anything at all until I have time to write everything.
Oof – yoga was TOUGH. I am all stretched and strengthened and absolutely exhausted...
Choir practice. Nikos was supposed to be doing the warm-up but Nikos has gone. How sad is that? I will tell you more anon. Ol warmed us up instead, brains too by teaching us some little ditty-ish, round-ish thing in a language which was never established, (as far as I could gather, anyway). Having got our minds and bodies into some sort of working order Ollie moved on to rehearsing us in just two things: The Seal Lullaby, for those new to the choir and therefore the song and She Moved Through the Fair, which was a small-group piece originally so, really, only well known by a very few of us – in fact, most of the erstwhile singers of this have gone and left us. I was one of the originals but you’d never have thought it. This was a piece I could sing off-by-heart once upon a time but I couldn’t remember at all where I’d changed parts, which bits I’d sung, what the pesky notes were. Disaster. Poor Heather was singing with me and, confused enough as it was with having to sing alto sometimes and tenor at others, she also had to stand next to me and hear me dithering. She needs to have the courage of her convictions in these circumstances. Stick ta yer guns, Heather, old girl. You’re far more likely to be right than am I!
When it came to The Seal Lullaby there were only one or two little mistakes (as far as I could tell) and plenty good enough for us to sing along to. I’m not sure we sang it very well but Sarah and anyone else who’d never sung it before (was there anyone else who’d never sung it before?) will have some idea, at least, of how it is supposed to sound.
These two songs are two of the choices for our CD. Ollie is going to ‘insist’ Anne comes along to play piano for us on recording day. I do hope she does. Seems fitting.
So then... Nikos. He has gone back to Greece in order, I believe, to work on his... on his what? Can’t remember what qualification he is working towards but it involves composing and his librettist is in Greece as are his family and friends and I gather he is struggling a little financially here and prefers to be at home while he is trying to complete his work. Who can blame him? He has said he would like to return to us in September and I, for one, hope he does. Strange to think that will probably be up to our new leader... In the meantime he has left us with Brodmann Area 47 and would love us to record it if we can manage to do so. How encouraging to know he trusts that we can do it justice (or perhaps the Scottish weather has driven him crazy. He was mighty discombobulated by the appearance of SNOW in April. We tried to explain that the soaring temperatures of the days before were far more to be wondered at but he still seemed at a complete loss to understand what was going on).
There y’are then. I’m sure I had something else to say but it has gone – poof. Off into the ether whither this blog will follow. But this blog, unlike whatever it was I had to tell you, will re-appear, miraculously at some point (it is miraculous, isn’t it, like it or not – all this technology?).
See you next week.
Friday, 13 April 2012
Last night was another good rehearsal, though still down on numbers. The altos made a strong showing again, there being four of us; all the tenors turned up (three, that is, a somewhat pathetic number) and of sopranos there were also three - I suppose it is still the Easter holiday and I guess Kay is off with the family gallivanting somewhere pleasant for the duration; Harriet, I’m sure, is working hard on her PhD thesis and Tamsin, so busy, is taking some time out (but will be returning one day, I’m glad to say). Luckily, Marie-Claire, in the diary as an absentee, had managed to change shifts and came along unexpectedly which was, no doubt, a good thing for the sanity of Susan and Rachael – especially when we came to the singing of Nikos’s Brodmann area 47 when all possible strength of mind is required even to look at the music. We had three basses, too. The three who were away last week. Can’t really be termed consistent, can we?
We began with a warm-up orchestrated by Douglas. Had it been a piece of music it would have been of the ponderous and slightly perplexing variety but our brains were given a bit of a work-out, which is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to the singing of Brodmann area 47, as I think I have mentioned before.
Then we sang our new Tormis piece from last week – Bridge of Song. It has lots of unexpected repeats in confusing places and we also have to deal with both Finnish and Estonian (ex-Rudsambeeite, Sari, is to be called upon to give a hand with the Finnish as there were, as per, differing ideas (‘convictions’ would not be too strong a word) as to pronunciation of the Finnish, at least) but it is coming on really rather remarkably quickly. The altos and basses are not allowed to breathe very much which is a bit of a problem for yours truly but if I think about it in advance and stand up straight I can do it. Thinking and not slouching are tricky things to do at the end of a busy day... my mother thinks I have wonderful posture and says she stands up straighter when I’m around (I think she does that only because she is rather small and wishes to look me in the face when pretending I’m still five years old – it must make the pretence that much easier if she’s not having to look up at me) but I’m really pretty sloppy most of the time, to be honest.
A short discussion was held mid-rehearsal as to what we might include on the CD we will record in May. The discussion was lively, several suggestions being crushed before they’d even finished leaving the suggestors mouth. Robin put in a request for an odious thing called Son ar Chistr which, you will gather, I can’t stand. Breton. Horrid. Unfortunately it is quite popular amongst the longer-standing choir members – Kay, for instance, loves it – and I have a terrible feeling that anyone who knows it will be expected to join, joyfully, in its recording. Hear this, folks: I am one who knows it. I will probably have to join in. I won’t do it joyfully.
We moved on to a little piece called The Ox Climbed a Fir Tree. A few of us have more than one copy of this already, indicative of the fact that Ol has tried to get us to sing it several times before. It is by Tormis, again and is really an amusing, though somewhat discordant, offering so I’m not sure why we’ve never yet got it up to performance standard but Ollie, obviously, has no intention of giving up on his dream... We worked on this avec piano – did it help? I remembered most of it from last time but a first note’s always useful. Especially when the alto part is written above the soprano’s and the basses above the tenor’s. Why? Is he just trying to be awkward?
Then the aforementioned (what? More than once?) Brodmann’s area. I amuse myself with the thought that Nikos wrote this piece for us to sing. For us. And he’s given the tenors really, really difficult things to do. What was he thinking??? We altos have a really rather melodic line which makes it all much easier but oh! the counting that is required. Very few notes are where one would (reasonably) expect them to be and they all seem to rely heavily on other parts being exactly where they should be at all times. This is Rudsambee, for Heaven’s sake! But no one can deny that it is fun – in a masochistic sort of a way – and very, very good for us indeed.
I am doing notes as well as this this week so I suppose I’d better get on with those now. Or perhaps not. Maybe I’ll go out and spend money instead... hmmm... notes/pretty new things, notes/pretty new things, notes/pretty new things?
Monday, 9 April 2012
‘Twas Robin who spake as above the above and I have to agree with him. Me neither. And it’s not all that exciting, sadly. A woody, drummy sort of a sound with a slide to it. Much as you’d expect, really. But now we can say that we have heard a falling bodhran as can all ten choir members who made it to rehearsal this week.
Yes, ten. A rather pathetic turn-out but I think Ollie had had apologies of one sort or another from all the absentees. He seemed prepared for the eventuality. To the point that he’d decided in advance that there was little point singing at all as there was little we could do with such small numbers. “We’ll have tea and chat,” he announced, “and maybe have a talk with Nikos about a guitar. I’ll go and put the kettle on.” He did.
So, there we were, drinking tea and chatting when Kirsty rushed in, somewhat breathless, eyebrows ahoist and atwist, the apologies on the tip of her tongue frozen there in consternation at the sight that met her eyes. “What’s this?” she demanded. “I feel like I’ve gone through the looking-glass, I’m upside down. Looking at things through the wrong end of a tele-thingy.” Rather mixed images. You will agree but she was extremely confused and who can blame her? Tea and chat happens at the end of the evening. She must have wondered just how late she was and what had happened to the missing 90 minutes. “We’re not going to sing tonight,” someone explained. “Why ever not?” asks K, increasingly put-out. “There’s not enough of us.” “Of course there is. We must sing. I have had such a day. I need to sing.”
So we sang.
Should Kirsty apply for Ollie’s job? She’d certainly whip us into shape, as someone pointed out.
We were given a new piece to look at. A new (to us) Tormis piece, no less. It’s quite some time since we had one of those. Not sure what it’s called because I kindly let Heather retain our shared copy but it had something to do with a bridge [it's called Bridge of Song]. A musical bridge: starts quietly, gets louder and louder, decrescendos. Starts low, gets higher and higher, makes its way back down. You get the picture. The words are in Finnish and Estonian – two for the price of one for those language counters who frequent our concerts – and translate into something rather lovely. Will fill you in on that when I get my own music. It wasn’t hard to sight-read. And it was fun.
Then we sang the new Lully piece so that Nikos could have a look at the guitar part and that was when the bodhran fell down.
We sang the other two Lully Entrées and I think that was all we did. But we did it well and our small-group status proved that small can, indeed, be beautiful. I suggested we keep the new Tormis for ourselves. Long time since we’ve had an official Small Group number. ‘bout time we got that going again methinks.
So – the reason you didn’t hear from me last week was because I wasn’t there. Or here, for that matter. I missed lots of exciting things. Working on Nikos’s composition for a start, which we haven’t done for ages. Unfortunately I think there were several people missing last week too and this included all the altos, aside from new Sarah. (I know where I was and why but what about the others eh? Eh??)
Ol’s last concert with us will not be until we sing at St Giles in August. Instead of a concert in May we will be recording a new CD – quite a short one like "A Flea in the Ear" – which Helen will come and engineer. We can put on it things we have loved singing with Ollie and we are to be encouraged to make suggestions as to what might be included. Cool, eh?
Happy Easter, everyone. May the Bunny be good to you.