strange_complex: (Snape writing)
I seem to have rather good work mojo on at the moment. Not in an achieving incredible things sort of way - but just in a rather satisfying getting on with it and ticking things off the 'to do' list sort of way. I'm in a run of busy teaching weeks which will last for another fortnight - but I'm keeping on top of things in a way which suggests that once things slacken off a little on the teaching front, I should be able to get some Actual Research done. Y'never know.

While this is clearly a Good Thing, it does seem to mean getting behind with my LJ. So, in order not to accumulate an overwhelming backlog of stuff which ends up preventing me from posting, let's have some bullet-points:
  • I went to a lovely concert in Chapel Allerton on Saturday with [livejournal.com profile] big_daz, featuring northern-based choir Renaissance Voices singing a rich programme of Monteverdi, Palestrina, Gabrieli and the like. It was very beautiful, and Daz and I had a grand old time drinking and chatting in a nearby pub afterwards.
  • I finally chose a bed! And Argos are delivering it tomorrow. I look forward to this immensely, as I deliberately chose a super-comfortable mattress for it, and am pretty sure it will be a great improvement on my current cheap single mattress.
  • All week long, some Tibetan monks have been creating an amazing multi-coloured design out of sand in the University's Parkinson Court. I thought they were painting it at first, but when I looked closer, I realised that they were actually very slowly and carefully releasing a stream of sand-grains onto the paper from thin conical tubes. It's incredibly intricate and amazing - and tomorrow afternoon they are going to destroy it, to show the impermanence of things. Their work, and the associated exhibition of photographs, trinket-stall and information stand, has triumphantly outdone a similar photographic exhibition which the Chinese society put on in the same space a few weeks ago, and which I'd forgotten all about until [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau reminded me. In the Parkinson Cultural Propaganda Wars, it is China: 0, Tibet: 1.
  • On Sunday, I shall be going along to the opening rehearsal of a non-auditioning Leeds-based choir, The Sacred Wing. Basically it's for LGBT people who like singing sacred music, and this year they're preparing Vivaldi's Gloria, Handel's Zadok the Priest and a few carols for a Christmas concert. This is very cheering to me after last week's experience - not having an audition is a very promising start, and I'm assuming they'll be more than averagely receptive to the idea of a woman singing tenor. Plus I looked through my score of the Gloria, and the tenor line doesn't go below the E below middle C, so NO-ONE can tell me I don't have the range for it!
That's all of note, really. But at least I can post from fresh next time.

strange_complex: (Handel)
I spent the weekend up in Brum with the parentals, partly for the sake of some general family time, but mainly to take part in a 'Sing Along with the CBSO' event on Sunday. I've attended one of these before, singing the Messiah two years ago: then, as now, accompanied by my uncle (a fellow tenor) and an unrelated aunt (alto). We all agreed that both experiences were excellent.

It's partly the scale of these things that makes them. I think about 1000 singers turned up for the Messiah. This weekend, I was one of 1400 singing Vivaldi's Gloria and Fauré's Requiem: including some 250 tenors, and a healthy proportion of ladies amongst them. Of course, as part of the singing masses, you never quite get the chance to catch what the overall sound is like for an observer. But I was reliably informed by my watching mother, father and other aunt that it was quite an experience.

Being accompanied by a professional orchestra [CBSO = City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra], and a damn good one at that, is also a real plus, as were the soloists involved - three very promising-sounding students from various music schools. But the greatest credit of all goes to Simon Halsey, the City of Birmingham Chorus director, whose friendly patois, obvious enthusiasm and ability to communicate directly and clearly with people at all levels of musical experience had all 1400 of us rapt with attention and eager to do our very best for him.

I still think Fauré's Requiem is a poor showing compared to Vivaldi's Gloria - I tried my best to like it, but had only got to the point of grudgingly admitting that it was OK by the end of the evening. Mind you, it has to be said that the tenors got more tunes out of Fauré than they did Vivaldi, even if they weren't such good tunes. So I enjoyed singing both, and especially enjoyed discovering how well I could get away with turning up not having practised the Fauré at all, and relying entirely on sight-reading and having listened to the tape a few times. I'd have been sunk without people who knew what they were doing around me, but since I did have them, it was All Right.

I also used the opportunity to reclaim about 1/3 of the possessions I'd put into storage before going to Belfast, which were kindly driven down to Oxford by my Dad at the end of the weekend, along with me and a new bookcase to put them in. Mainly I concentrated on books and videos this time, since I knew they could go in the bookcase. But I've also reclaimed piles of old photographs, and my two beloved framed Piranesi sketches of Roman column bases, capitals and sculptural fragments. These, it turns out, are the things I've missed most. Books and videos are great, but ultimately ephemeral, especially once you've read or watched them once. But the photos are unique, while the Piranesi sketches just add a verneer of class and sophistication to my flat which has been somewhat lacking since I moved back here. Perhaps they will help me to get that book finished, eh?

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