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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