Archive for the ‘ Singing ’ Category

Having a junior moment: the sequel

I’m sure that the readers of my blog found my account of my singing-related memory loss to be as thrilling as an extremely thrilling thing, so it only seems fair that I share the sequel – what happened following this nerve-wracking episode?

The sequel begins at the end of the concert.  The church we were performing in likes to make it quite clear that it appreciates our presence, and does so by having an extended period of embarrassment at the end where a speech is made and presents are given to the performers.  Chocolates were handed round the choir, the accompanist got something, the conductor got a bunch of flowers, and the soloists got a little something as well.  Except me.  It seems that somebody had miscounted the number of soloists and had not bought quite enough wrapped chocolate goodies to go around.  And it was assumed that once the supply of chocolate goodies had run out, so had the supply of soloists.  I didn’t mind this at all, as I hate taking curtain calls of any kind, and receiving flowers (for the ladies) and chocolate (for the men) meant that one had to stand up and acknowledge the assembled company.  I was quite happy to be overlooked, particularly since I wasn’t ever supposed to be performing the song in the first place, being a stand-in for someone who couldn’t make that concert.

As it turned out, I did get some chocolate anyway, as one of the men has no sweet tooth at all (how is that possible?  how can one live without chocolate?) and passed their lovely Cadbury’s delights on to me.  So I got chocolate without having to take a bow – best of all possible worlds.

And then…

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Questions are asked and answered

There is a meme going around, as I’m sure you’ll have noticed, where bloggers interview one another, and end up giving really quite interesting (or in my case, really quite long) answers.  I think the beauty of this meme is in the nature of who is doing the interviewing.  It’s not people that the bloggers know in their day to day life, who would most likely be fishing for particular bits of information that they already know.  It’s also not people completely disconnected from them, who would end up asking entirely generic questions.  These are people who know their interviewees through the blogosphere, a curious form of social interaction which is simultaneously very open and very reserved, as each word can be chosen, pondered and held back.  All of us leave a whole number of gaps in the narrative of our lives as we blog away, and many of the questions and answers I’ve seen have been filling in some of these gaps, which the blog authors may have been entirely unaware of.

So the meme has been floating around, and I’ve seen it whiz through the periphery of  both the comics blogosphere and the theatre blogosphere, and now it has entered the realm of the blogs that I read more regularly.  I finally decided to be brave and ask for some questions following the questions that Aphra posed to Reed.  Reed, or possibly her ever-present Editor, posed five questions, and warned me that they “are all prompted by the fact I am a NOSY woman”.   As a result, this is probably one of my longest posts ever.  If you really don’t want to know about the real Singing Librarian, look away now and come back in a few days when I start wittering about something less personal.

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The Singing Librarian’s ‘To Do List’

My concert season is coming to an end, with one having been cancelled, one already over and two coming up this weekend, leaving only an excursion on 4th August to look forward to.  This means that with no rehearsals, no studying and no Sunday School to prepare for, I have that strange and wonderful thing called time on my hands.  But what am I to do with it?

Answer Reed’s questions.  For the interview meme that all the cool bloggers are taking part in, don’t you know.  I am still pondering a couple of the answers, and will hopefully post them tomorrow.

Move house.  I’ve gone and got myself on the property ladder, only I’ve bought a dental surgery with three friends and we’re in the process of turning it back in to a house.  We have knocked down walls, put in a new bathroom and ordered a new kitchen.  We are now trying to extract a quote from a builder so that we can make sure the place doesn’t fall down and make it possible for all four of us to move in by the beginning of September, at which point I must have left my current abode.  And there’s the small matter of packing everything up and transporting it across town…

Read.  My pile of books to be read is growling angrily from the corner and demands to be reduced.  So reduced it shall be.  First is The Moonstone, my next book group book, which I really ought to have picked up long ago since The Woman in White is one of my favourite novels.  Then the books that people have blogged about which I have subsequently picked up. The Lies of Locke Lamora, courtesy of Helen and The Night Watch, courtesy of Sol.  Then, if I get through those three without getting distracted, the rest of the pile which ranges from Homer to Neil Gaiman, taking in Eco, Irving and sundry others in a bewildering mix of styles and genres. 

Sing.  I am determined to add some new items to the repertoire of songs I can sing.  I may never perform them to anyone, but I’m sure it will be good for me.  So I shall attack Jason Robert Brown’s ‘King of the World’ for power, Sigmund Romberg’s ‘Serenade’ for high notes and romantic loveliness, Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Marry Me a Little’ for drama and Lerner & Loewe’s ‘C’est Moi’ for comedy (if I can pull it off the way I’d like to), which is as about as diverse a range of songs as I can manage.  I expect I’ll lose at least one of the battles and may well drive the neighbours insane, but the fight should be entertaining.

Breathe.  I haven’t got much leave over the summer, but I shall try to spend at least a couple of days out in the countryside or on the sea front, going for a walk and then just sitting.  Well, sitting and reading.  I need to relax, enjoy this wonderful county, take in the air of the sea and the fields and switch off.

I think that should keep me busy.

Having a junior moment

Once people enter middle age, whatever that may be, they seem to feel entitled to put any lapses of memory or outbreaks of bizarre thinking down to a ‘senior moment’.  I’m not sure what age allows entry to the senior moment club, but I’m fairly sure I haven’t reached it, being a spring chicken of 28.  My intriguing memory lapse at last night’s concert must therefore have been a junior moment.

There I was, happily singing the man’s half of ‘I’ll Know’ from Guys and Dolls, when I suddenly realised I didn’t know what the next line was.  I couldn’t stop, and although the music was on a stand nearby, I had no idea where on the page I actually was.  Nobody could have rescued me, so I just had to smile and keep singing.  Anything.  Any old words until I reached a point where I knew exactly what I should be singing and when.  Unfortunately, the point I was aiming for was also the point where my duet partner comes back in to the song, and I could see in her eyes that she wasn’t sure that I’d be on the right words by this point.

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A lot of learning to do

Under normal circumstances, the summer tends to be a quiet period for amateur performers.  Everyone goes off on holidays, so rehearsals dry up for a couple of months before gathering momentum with the coming of September.  However, my diary for July, August and early September is peppered with a number of concerts with different groups of people, in sundry locations around the Garden of England and with varying contents.

Somehow, I have managed to pick up quite a variety of solo and duet material in addition to the ensemble work which includes everything from a lovely Cole Porter medley to a stupid (in my opinion) arrangement of ‘Mack the Knife’.  In approximate order of singing, I have ‘I’ll Know’ from Guys and Dolls, ‘Suddenly, Seymour’ from Little Shop of Horrors, the Sergeant in ‘When The Foeman Bares His Steel’ from The Pirates of Penzance, ‘All I Ask of You’ from Phantom of the Opera, ‘Being Alive’ from Company and ‘Agony’ from Into the Woods.  Oh, and possibly singing Marius’ part in ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserables, though I’ve not really agreed to that one yet.

Quite an assortment of pieces, using all of my performance muscles as they cover comedy, romance and drama, and using pretty much all of my vocal range from the deepest depths to those notes which make me want to switch to falsetto.  The pieces, only one of which I’ve sung in public before, were written between 1879 and 1987 and range from songs which the audience will know very well to a couple of numbers which will be new to the majority of people.  I am at least on nodding terms with all of them, but I have an awful lot to learn over the next month or so, getting the words and tunes right and trying to blend my voice to four different duet partners, all with much more musical training and technical proficiency than I have.  Still, I like most of the songs and I enjoy a challenge…

What you do is not who you are

My blogging identity is a handle I’ve used on a few other sites.  The Singing Librarian.  Recently, however, a real-life friend who knows of this blog commented that they didn’t think the handle really summed me up, that they wouldn’t think of me in those terms.  So I wondered.  And pondered.  And sat on the thought for a while.  Is the Singing Librarian really who I am?

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Shameless plug – The Sound of Gershwin

Loyal readers, my posts have been few and far between recently.  I can explain, really I can.  Approximately half of the blame lies with my studies, as I have just e-mailed off the final assignment of the academic year, the first year of my postgraduate foray into the world of Information and Library Studies.  The other half lies with that ever-present aspect of my life, rehearsals.  In ten days, the curtain will go up on The Sound of Gershwin at the Whitstable Playhouse, and the Singing Librarian will be singing the songs of one of the twentieth century’s most successful popular composers alongside two dozen other performers.

From my perspective, this is a rather mad show, which gives everyone much more to do than you’d normally have in a traditional ‘book musical’ with a plot and characters.  We’re simply singing and dancing our hearts out to scores of Gershwin’s songs, from the well known hits like ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘Summertime’ to neglected gems like my two solos, ‘Who Cares?’ from Of Thee I Sing and a snatch of ‘That Certain Feeling’ from Tip-Toes.  The solos give most of the company time to breathe and execute a subtle costume change (waistcoats, scarves and so on will be flying on and off throughout the evening), though everyone is called in to duty at various points to dance or react while others are singing.  As the evening progresses, I am seduced against my will, dance a Viennese waltz (or try very hard to do so), tease, flirt, run, march, click and kick.

We’re still putting a few last things together in rehearsal, which is rather scary for this stage in proceedings, so it’s impossible to say how well or otherwise this will hang together as a show, but it should be a lot of fun for performers and audience.  Certain bits of it are excellent, so the rest needs to catch up fast!  Should you feel the urge to see a librarian sing and dance, then please do come down to Whitstable.  Tickets are available by telephone on 01227 272042 or through the theatre’s website, which I cunningly linked to earlier in the post.

Not convinced you know or like any Gershwin songs?  Well, here’s a selection of ten of the more famous numbers that are included: ‘I Got Rhythm’, ‘Strike Up the Band’, ‘How Long Has This Been Going On?’, ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’, ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’, ‘Fascinating Rhythm’, ‘Embraceable You’, ‘Summertime’, ‘I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin” and ‘The Man I Love’.  With another forty or so numbers included, in whole or in part, I think we just about do justice to Gershwin’s output!

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