This week’s blog post is from Roy Schutz, a member of our bass section.
As the Choir representative on ‘ Making Music’, I had notification of the opportunity to sing with the Drivetime choir and the Halle orchestra in Nottingham on 19 June.
The attraction was the chance to sing the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore and , especially, the Easter hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana so I signed up.
Three rehearsals were scheduled, on 10 June ( mainly for beginners) and 16 and 18 June; you were obliged to attend one at least of these last two. The 10 June was a Tuesday so that was out but I went to both the others. The choir mistress was Angela Key , there was a pianist and, on the 18th, the soloist, a young local soprano, joined the rehearsal.
The Anvil chorus is comparatively straightforward ( and we might enjoy doing it one day) so we spent the bulk of our time on Mascagnis absolutely wonderful music. The Nottingham Harmonic choir had recorded both pieces and the Drivetime Choir ( which is an ad hoc collection of people of all ages, abilities and experience) were able to go to the chorus members area on their computer and listen to their own vocal line; this was a great help and without it I, and I suspect many others, would have floundered hopelessly at the rehearsals. As it was, I sat amongst some strong basses which was a considerable support for me.
The Drivetime singers were augmented, for the performance, by the Nottingham Harmonic and the East of England choir and, in all, I guess that there were in the region of 600 of us, altos being the largest contingent. The concert lasted about an hour and the Halle played half a dozen other items including ‘ Nimrod’ and the theme from ‘ The Trap’ which we know as the signature tune of the London Marathon.
Though, of course, I sat with the basses I was right next to the altos which turned out to be a mistake. We had a half hour rehearsal with the orchestra; the conductor was extraordinarily young (22) and he expressed his surprise that we were singing in English and not Italian.
The alto right next to me had a very strong and secure voice and in the first run through I was quite overwhelmed by it and completely lost my line. During the brief interval between rehearsal and performance I learnt that she was a Methodist minister so perhaps it was not surprising that ‘ Sing in praise to our glorious Saviour ‘ and similar had a particular resonance for her.
Next years concert is on 25 June; it depends on the programme but if there is more Italian opera to be sung I intend being there.