So unusually for a review piece, this one isn't so much about a performance I attended as one in which I participated! I joined the Nottingham branch of the BeVox choir part way through the previous season (week 5, so lots to catch up on!) and signed up to also join the forthcoming - and what felt ages ahead - performance at Buxton Dome. You can read more about the Dome and its history at the Dome website.
Inside the cavernous dome space we were going to be singing to two audiences - a matinee and evening performance. It was a heck of a space to be singing in! Images only give a hint of the space...
Following a 3 hour journey from Nottingham to Buxton - don't ask, our navigation skills are rough at best but we did about 30 extra miles going off track thanks to road closures for Xmas fairs etc - we finally got to the hotel. We stayed at the rather charming Lee Wood Hotel, part of the Best Western franchise, and they were lovely. We ate, after getting lost on foot in Buxton (spotting a pattern yet?!) and then headed back to the hotel where thanks to the dread cough we slept pretty crappily.
We were up first to breakfast the next day. I ran out to buy a sarnie for lunch - although Neil had got me supplies like crisps etc I really needed a lunchtime sarnie - and whilst out also picked up a skirt to have something to change into for the evening performance (£4.50 charity shop skirt: fab!). It was going to be a busy day with lots happening.
We kicked off by arriving and making sure we were ready for the stage - walking on and off appropriately (this is harder than it looks, corralling nearly 150 people onto and off a stage). Given that there were heavy hints that unless people volunteered to go on the front row, people would be chosen randomly, I (temporarily I thought) stood to be on the front row of the Alto 1 section....
... and ended up stuck there!
I did stick my hand up and say I felt a bit exposed but since it would also give me an easy exit if I had another dread coughing fit (like last weekend's rehearsal) I couldn't then get out of the position.
Hanging out with the choir as the day trundled along towards the actual performances was really nice though, lots of good camaraderie and chatter. Thanks to everyone who chatted with me - both from Nottingham and further afield (Sheffield, Barnsley and Wakefield branches) as it made the day so much more enjoyable.
Tim who leads the choir and conducts* was as energetic as ever. This was actually even more marvellous than it sounds as late last week he broke one of his toes! Running on adrenaline during the performances he bounced around like unleashed animal and kept us all enthused. Between them, Toni (who runs BeVox with Tim) and stage manager Pauline (who is also a member of the choir but for the show focused on keeping everything on track) --- well these two women are equally talented and astonishing. Toni sings Alto 1 (where I am also vocally placed**) and it's a heck of a standard to live up to! It was a real team effort with lots of people involved in making it happen. And the ProMusica Brass Ensemble were amazing, even if brass instrumentation is quite something to compete against vocally!
And that was one of the hard things about the day - judging how to sing - the space itself was really challenging and the cues of hearing other parts of the choir was pretty tough. But we did it and actually from the audiences perspective it seemed to be pretty grand. By the evening especially - where the lighting and set-up really came into its own - things were pretty tight for pretty much everything. the soloists were consistantly awesome and we got a really great reception from the audience.
Most wonderful time
The Christmas song (Chestnuts Roasting)
Alone – Solo, Rachel Wood
Viva la vida
The man with the child in his eyes – Solo, Louise Jarman
One day like this
I won’t give up – Solo, Emma Cassinelli [unfortunately Emma couldn't do her solo spot]
Fly me to the moon
Love changes everything – Solo, Martin Clarke
The rhythm of life – Band (ProMusica Brass Ensemble)
Wishing you were somehow here again – Solo, Lis Luke
High and lifted up
Africa (Solo line at the end – Rachel Wood)
Adiemus (Solo lines – Toni Ratcliffe)
Libertango – Band (ProMusica Brass Ensemble)
Gaudete – Ensemble: Ann Hallam, Rosie Ross, Roz Bexon, Lynda Simms, Val Simons, Jennifer Holmes, Martin Lloyd-Penny, John Walters, Keir Flynn, Tony Pannell
Let it snow – Solo, Louise Beard
Ave Maria – Duet, Lis Luke & Toni Ratcliffe
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Surabaya Santa – Solo, Toni Ratcliffe
Encore: Lean on me
Thanks to this video you can get a flavour of the concert with the piece that opened the second half of the show. (The filming is facing towards the Soprano and Tenor side of the choir rather than the Bass and Alto side. Then again, you can't really see the choir as such so no great loss for me not being visible.)
I will try and post more photos and links as I get them but hope you enjoy this as much as we did doing it!
After the show/Sunday
We ate at the Old Hall Wine Bar in Buxton between matinee and evening shows (thanks Ann H for organising this!) and then had a hot meal AFTER the evening show too (by heck I needed that food!). We slept better Saturday night and then after breakfast trundled home, getting lost again but only because we wanted to go to Cromford and Scarthin Books before Xmas. We had to double back on ourselves to do it, we we went, had a ploughman's lunch, spent loads, came home and watched eps 7-8 of The Killing s3. WHOOO!! What a GREAT weekend!
* Tim is basically a one-man talent machine. Composer, arranger, choir leader, conductor, producer... he's astonishing really.
** Makes it sound like I know what I'm doing doesn't it?!