Saturday, 12 August 2017

16. Halle Tour Day 1 - Travelling, Barnard + Settling In

I can't believe that this is officially my last tour with the Halle Youth choir. Over the past few years it's definitely been one of my favourite parts of life and has helped me to acquire so many skills. And this is true of the tours too - I go from meeting new people to finding out about so many things I want to learn more about. Being outside of your comfort zone is sometimes the best place to be for the experiences that change your life.
For those of you who have never been on a choir residential/tour, let me fill you in a little. Basically it is the opportunity (when the academic year is over and the main season isn't a constant looming presence) in which to learn new skills surrounded by your friends and lots of new faces so that you really start working more on your individual part when it comes to blending into an ensemble. Performing isn't something which can just be taught one day and then that's that; It's over and done with. Instead it is something which takes trial and error in order to find different approaches which work for the individual. In the case of a choir, it is about learning not only what works best individually but also learning how to slot that into your teamwork skill set. And of course, learning about what works best for the choir as a group on a whole. A choir is simultaneously afterall a living breathing thing which is singular and yet made up of lots of different people working with their own individual effort so it is all about finding the right balance. 
Travelling has made it a bit of a tedious day but rehearsals helped to liven things up. As soon as we arrived we were diving right into some gospel improv and spent an hour doing various activities in different sorts of world music. After this, sight reading through some shorter choral Copland and Beethoven mass in C Minor was nothing. Choral music might sound dull but it's actually really fun, for all the previous reasons mentioned and more. Plus it's so full of drama! You can analyse text, play with the dynamic and on top of that add something new + different using your own unique perspective.
My new home for the next week ^
We're staying in the dormitories of a boarding school in Barnard and it feels somewhere between a live re-enaction of Wild Child and Harry Potter. This is the sort of place where there are bound to be secret corridors and buried treasure. This is the sort of place where adventures must happen. It may sound absurd, but anything can happen on a Halle trip!

The most overwhelming part of today was probably the shift from a long journey to learning vast amounts of information in a new environment. The repertoire we are working on includes:
That sheet music life!
  • Beethoven Mass in C Major
  • Copland (little horses)
  • Grieg (Ave Marie Stellas)
  • Minayamanyo
  • Sure on this shining night
  • Alleluia
These are the pieces we are splitting into 4 ensembles and then performing at the end of the week. Our concert is at Chetham's back home in Manchester, but working on the pieces here means we are really thrown out of that comfort zone. So far beyond it! Learning so much in just a week will definitely make for an intriguing experience. Especially with the Beethoven as we are working on that with the youth orchestra.
Now that rehearsals are over for the day, it's time to practice and prepare for tomorrow. If there is one thing music prepares you for in life it is - well, preparation! Knowing to work hard in advance so that you are up to scratch by your deadlines is incredibly important. I don't think there is anywhere else you can learn this skill so well.
And right now, it's already starting to feel like home here. For where else but home would you have such a beautiful sunset to greet you after a long afternoon of rehearsing?
A beautiful sunset to end the day - Copyright CLSS 2017
Thank-you for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day! 

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