city of glasgow chorus

A Travelogue, In Which 81 Scottish Choristers Descend Upon China

It is now just over five weeks since I was on a flight home to Glasgow with eighty members of the City of Glasgow Chorus and our assorted entourage. That was a journey that had started not quite 24 hours earlier in the darkness of three o’clock in the morning in Shanghai, and had started nine days before that when we had boarded a flight bound for Beijing with copies of Vaughan Williams and Brahms and a sense of not quite knowing what we were doing, and had started, really, three years ago in Opole when on the final night of our Polish tour and on a great deal of Polish vodka we had begun to ask, what’s next?

Back on that night in 2013, the answer to that question was Odessa. And then Vladimir Putin annexed the Ukraine, so that was sort of that.

China, then.

The evening after our arrival back in Scotland, I sat in a coffee shop and I typed, “It’s only 24 hours since I landed at Glasgow Airport, and already I’m finding it difficult to believe that we’re home from China, or, more to the point, that we ever went in the first place.” It had been incredible, transcendent, and utterly mad, and it also felt as though it had taken place inside a sort of bubble beyond which the world had stopped existing — helped along, no doubt, by the Chinese firewall around the Internet, which had largely cut us off from the outside world anyway, but in a more metaphysical sense than that, too. In the last month I’ve been delighting in all the pictures and videos coming across my social media feeds, and the conversations that they’ve sparked: proof that this incredible thing was a thing that really happened.

I have been being asked whether I was going to write about China since I was in the queue to clear security at Glasgow Airport on the way there. Yes, I said. Yes, of course I am. It’s taken five weeks because it turns out I had kind of a lot to say.

Nine days. Three cities. Three performances.

*

Rachel Johnson wrote in the foreword to the 2014 edition of EM Delafield’s The Diary of a Provincial Lady that “no interesting anecdote ever began ‘we had a problem-free journey to Istanbul on the Orient Express'”.

We touched down in Beijing at half past ten in the evening. I wanted a shower, clean clothes, and a horizontal surface, preferably in that order; a wish list that is shared by anyone who has ever been on a long haul flight although I’d suggest mine was intensified just a little by the fact that I had started my period in a 777 toilet somewhere over Afghanistan. The journey had in fact been remarkably unproblematic, and we were all aware that we were expected on a sightseeing tour in less than twelve hours and were beginning to have a collective fantasy about bed.

I speak very little Mandarin. I can say thank you and I can count from one to ten, and, because of the scene that proceeded to unfold once we were on the ground, I can understand the quarantine announcement that is currently made on board aeroplanes arriving in China. The announcement that was made, repeatedly, in English and Mandarin, asking people who are from two countries where neither of those is a particularly commonly spoken language to please make their way to the nearest exit before anyone else is allowed to disembark, while those people sat, presumably baffled as to why no one was getting off the plane. I’m pretty sure we had been the last international flight due into Beijing that night even before we sat on the tarmac for over an hour. I was the second to last person in the queue at international immigration. As myself and my last-in-the-queue colleague stepped forward to hand over our passports, sections of Beijing Airport Immigration were shutting down around us. As the final half dozen of us waited for the shuttle train that would take us to baggage reclaim and the exit, we were joined by what appeared to be the entire staff of Beijing Airport, going home for the night. “It’s not that I think our bags won’t be off yet,” I said, musingly. “It’s more that I think they might have decided no one’s coming for them and stashed them in lost property already.”

Our first concert in China was the very next evening. Or, more accurately, since no one actually got to a bed until 2am, that same evening.

We were performing with the Beijing Sinfonetta and the International Festival Chorus, singing the Ralph Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony. I have an emotional response to the Sea Symphony, which is set to extracts from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. It has parts in it that, every time, I have something that’s partly sense memory, lying in bed in the dark, listening to the quiet burble of the Shipping Forecast, and partly more than that, conjuring up the images and sounds of men and women bobbing up and down in their boats around the waters of the British Isles. And never mind that Whitman was American; in my head —

… token of all brave captains,
and of all intrepid sailors and mates,
and all that went down doing their duty.

— that’s what I hear: the music, and the waves, and a voice from the BBC saying, “and now the Shipping Forecast issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency … warnings of gales in Tyne and Doggar … Rockall, Mallin, Hebrides, veering northeast 3 or 4 … “

I tell you all this in part so that you will understand why I laughed myself sick when, before leaving Scotland, we saw the promotional material for Beijing.

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And in part so that you will understand why my breath catches, just a little, every time I sing the Sea Symphony.

The honest truth is that I don’t remember a lot about that concert. I remember, while the Sinfonetta were noodling about with the accompaniment during the rehearsal, sitting cross-legged on the stage behind the second sopranos of the International Festival Chorus, and being asked about our journey and them saying it was good, then, that we’d had the chance to rest in the morning, and me corpsing before I told them we’d been up since eight and been taken on a five mile walking tour of the Forbidden City before rehearsal. I remember that I was sitting next to the tenors, because I remember that I got chatting to one of them and asking if it was his first time in Beijing, and he gave me an odd look and said that it was but obviously now he’d lived there for eight years and I was mortified because apparently I can’t tell the difference between my tenors who I’ve sung with for years and tenors who are not my tenors. I was really sleep deprived. And speaking of which, I also remember that at one point in the fourth movement during the performance I started to tilt gently to one side.

Somehow, we managed to get through it without disgracing ourselves in front of our Chinese audience and our illustrious guest conductor, Nick Smith, and from there we had a few days off to explore the city and shake off the jet lag.

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All the times I thought we were going to die in the traffic. Or run over someone else in the traffic. That’s what I’ll remember about Beijing.

*

A long time before left Glasgow, we had each one of us been required by the Chinese government to sign a document saying that having been granted permission to perform in China we would agree not to use the stage as a platform for political protest. It is my view that even if one were inclined to launch a political protest from a stage, the middle of a Vaughan Williams choral work would not be the natural place to do so. It is apparently the view of every person who has ever met me that that is all well and good, but, after all, if anyone were going to do it it would probably be me. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t see their point. My relatives had spent the better part of the previous six months telling me not to get arrested.

The day after the concert, I spent a morning exploring Beijing alone, getting enjoyably lost on the subway, and drinking and buying tea in the tea market, and then we all met back up as a group for a tour of Tiananmen Square which seemed an ideal opportunity for a group photo.

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So. Much. Tea.

I joined my fellow short people in the front row and squatted down. A crowd of people began t to gather, wondering what we were up to. I took off my sunglasses, rendering myself effectively blind, and looked vaguely in the direction of the camera. “Say ‘Cheese!” called someone. This led to a few minutes of: “Say ‘China’!”, and, “Say ‘Beijing’!” and “Say ‘Away!”. The last a reference to the opening movement of the Vaughan Williams, and then people started trying to sing the Sea Symphony except all different bits, and, eventually, one of the altos struck up Auld Lang Syne and we all joined in.

You really aren’t supposed to sing in Tiananmen Square. It turns out. If you do, they think you’re trying to start a revolution. Historically, revolutions in Tiananmen Square have gone a little less than well.

Because I’d not been wearing glasses, the first inkling I had that something had gone a bit wrong was when we gave it, to coin a phrase, laldy, on the last line of the chorus and stopped and the crowd gathered were silent. You do that on the steps of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, people mostly clap. The force of ingrained British politeness means even if they think you’re a bit shit they mostly clap. And when I put my glasses back on, the police had arrived.

I am told by people who could see what was going on that what happened was this: A police van that had been parked at the other end of the Square, nearly a kilometre away, started its engine and drove over to us. The military moved forward. As our photographer lifted his camera, he became aware that there was a soldier or a police officer on either side. Afterwards, our Mandarin speaking tour guide was taken aside by the police who questioned him as to whether our song had been an attempt to incite a revolt.

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It’s not that we go looking for trouble. Really.

If you search for Tiananmen Square on an Internet connection within China, there is no evidence of the events of 1989.

*

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The following day, the coaches took us out to the Great Wall of China.

Travelling, there are moments when my breath catches involuntarily and I murmur, oh. Oh, I’m really here. Oh, I’m really seeing this thing. Oh, wow. The moments that linger in the memory better than any photograph.

We had been warned that the day was misty and that the views from the Wall wouldn’t be at their best.

I got off the coach and rounded the corner from the car park on foot and looked up.

And.

Oh.

That’s something I’ll remember for a long time. 

*

 Nanjing felt noticeably smaller and quieter than Beijing had.

It has a population of 8 million people, to Beijing’s population of 25 million. For reference, the population of Nanjing is still three million more people than live in the whole of Scotland.

First, though, we had had to get there.

On the bullet train.

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Well, how hard can that be?

The trouble is that Chinese public transport is very punctual. Yes, I did say “the trouble is”.

We had boarded the bullet train at its point of origin in Beijing and once underway it stops at each station en route for only two minutes. I’ve mentioned, I think, that the City of Glasgow Chorus was not a small group; ninety-eight of us once you tot up the assorted hangers on, like the spouses and the soloists and the conductor. So, imagine, if you will, the ninety-eight of us when we learned that this did indeed mean that we would have 120 seconds from the doors opening to get all of us and all of our luggage off the train and onto the platform.

I don’t have a lot of regrets in life, but I do regret the fact that I don’t have a video of that one minute and fifty seconds. Oh, yes. And no one accidentally went to Shanghai, even.

At some point in Nanjing, I vanished into the kind of tour bubble that I talked about at the beginning, that I experience as a complete and all-encompassing metaphysical thing. It persisted until a good three or four days after I arrived back in Glasgow, far more disorientating than even the worst jet lag. It isn’t peculiar only to choir tour, although it happened in Poland too – I experience a similar if more short lived kind of thing at General Synod, where this is life now and it is all life is and that’s very okay with me, and emerging back into the real world where people do not care fervently about either obscure points of canon law or Brahms is thoroughly flummoxing. I’ve written in my paper journal in Nanjing, I could do this forever. It is patently not true – I have a real job that I love and a real life that I love and eventually I’d like to be in one place for long enough to unpack a suitcase and wash some socks, but in that moment, in the middle of that all-encompassing experience, I was entirely content with this life. A few days later, I’d sit down for my last breakfast in China and I would think, what on Earth do I do on Monday morning when I don’t have ninety-odd people to eat breakfast with?

However, I digress.

Nanjing.

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From the top of the city walls of Old Nanjing

My recollection is that we hadn’t originally intended to be there at all, and that a concert had been moved from Tianjin to Nanjing for logistical reasons. In fact, our tour guide told us repeatedly that it was unusual for the city to see Western tourists; by implication, let alone for it to see almost a hundred Scots descending on the place en masse. It’s the provincial capital of Jiangsu Province, and in the earlier part of the twentieth century had been the site of central government under the Kuomintang nationalist party until its invasion by the Peoples’ Liberation Army in 1949.
We were there for an extraordinarily short period of time, but managed to see a lot of old Nanjing in the time we had and then walk through the streets of the city near the Confucius Temple where we used our terrible Mandarin to buy street food of uncertain but mostly delicious origin.

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Kittens in the Confucius Temple

It is probably worth my saying at this point that despite spending the better part of an hour in the Confucius Temple, I know nothing about Confucius. As we entered, I spied a cat. I went over to say hello, and found a whole family of kittens who were perfectly friendly if baffled by the presence of an odd woman who kept squeaking at them and taking pictures. In my own defence: I was starting to miss my own cats by this stage. And also in my own defence: I have no defences against cats who really were very sweet.

The afternoon was spent in a rehearsal and then in a performance. Nanjing has a beautiful concert hall, where we sang our first of two performances of the Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with Charlotte Drummond, from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, as our soprano soloist and Paul Keohone as our baritone.

The City of Glasgow Chorus knows Charlie and Paul well, at this point. They both do a lot of solo work for the Chorus, and Paul, particularly, who has been on tour with us before, to Poland as ‘our Elijah’. They are both incredible talents whose voices brought me to tears multiple times during the week. They are also both thoroughly delightful people who were all too pleased to muck in with everything we did outside of the concert venues, and I think on this I can speak not only for myself when I say that it was a joy to have them with us.

We ended with Auld Lang Syne.

This time, without the police incursion.

*

We were blown into Shanghai on the tail end of a typhoon.

“Welcome to wherever you are,” I murmured to my neighbour, as we fought with suitcases and satchels and umbrellas and looked for our bus, still bleary eyed from the Brahms the previous evening.

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No, but did I mention that there’d been a typhoon?

We would later have a day to see Shanghai. We would go up to the top of the Jin Mao Tower, which is eighty eight floors up and apparently shows a beautiful panorama over the city but on the day we were there featured a wall of thick cloud. We would go for a paddle through the Bund, the waterfront part of Central Shanghai, and would break an array of hotel umbrellas (and I would get lost). A proportion of us would brave the rain and wind still howling around after that typhoon to go on a boat trip down the Huangpu River at night and see the lights of Shanghai, and, oh, I have never been so wet in my life, but I would not have missed that for the world.

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Shanghai: Taken by night. Photo: Taken by iPhone in a storm.

Even at 3am the following morning, debating how best to pack the things I had been wearing, which felt as though they’d been through a washing machine without the benefit of either warm water or a spin cycle, without destroying everything else I owned. Even at 10pm the following night back in Glasgow when I looked sadly at my brogues and wondered if they would ever be wearable again. Even despite all those things, that was a very good night.

First, we had a concert to do.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but, on a bus to the concert hall that afternoon for a rehearsal, I found myself needing to perk up. I was looking forward to it and all, but… Ein Deutsches Requiem is a big sing, and, having last done it less than 24 hours earlier and 200 miles away, there were things that my brain was refusing to compute. Like the fact that I was about to sing it all again. This was a case of the spirit being willing and the flesh being thoroughly knackered.

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And then we walked into the Shanghai Symphony Hall.

As I write that, I’m having the strongest memory.

The people who were there with me know what I’m talking about. The utter perfection of that gem of a space, and the sheer spine-melting joy of that acoustic. My God, that acoustic. Later, under the stage lights and opening with the pianissimo of the first movement, there was a proper fizz at the base of my skull. I can feel it there again now. As the piece progressed to its end, Charlie got to her feet to sing the soprano solo in the fifth movement and I became aware of tears wobbling in the corner of my eye. There are times – not often, but sometimes – that a piece of music will remind you why you believe in God, and this was one of those times.

That concert is the thing I’ll remember about China more than anything – more than the vast emptiness of Tiananmen Square, or the Great Wall of China under the soles of my feet, more than nearly drowning in the Huangpu River or two minutes disembarkations and being the last people out of the airport, more than standing under the lights of Shanghai in the rain, more even than friendship and shared food and much laughter. I will remember all of those things for a very long time, of course I will, but none of them will compare to the memory of standing on that stage.

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That’s us!

We ended, again, with Auld Lang Syne, and this time, having kept it together through the Brahms, just about, as I joined hands with my neighbours I burst into tears. “It’s okay,” I telegraphed frantically. “It’s okay, these are happy tears.” I’ve written three and a half thousand of them and it wasn’t half of what I could have done, but I don’t know that I have the words to describe what those nine days were like, this thing that we did, that I genuinely still can’t really believe we did do.

Instead of words, then, I leave you with music. This link goes to a video of the last two minutes of our last performance of one hell of an adventure.

It was an extraordinary journey, and an extraordinary privilege that I will never ever forget.

Something Old, Something New

Back when the days were long and the evenings were light, when Scotland was warm (no, really) and the sun shone down on the River Tay, the City of Glasgow Chorus spent a weekend locked in the Caird Hall. Never has the Greggs on Dundee High Street done such a roaring trade in cups of tea.

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The result of those two days is the new CD, Something Old, Something New, which is available now for postal ordering from the Chorus website for £10. If you know a Chorus member, it can also be got from us with less hassle and no P&P charge.

The playlist includes the Charles Parry I Was Glad, choruses from the Faure Requiem and Mendelssohn Elijah, Howard Goodall’s setting of Psalm 23 (from The Vicar of Dibley), the Vivaldi Gloria, and the Bogoroditse Devo from the Rachmaninov Vespers.

It is very good music, with a very good choir (and I’m biased and I don’t care) and a magnificent organ. I heard this in its finished form a couple of weeks ago and then parts of it again when I was driving home tonight. I’m very proud of the work that went into it by all of us, and of the quality of the end product.

Everyone likes a nice CD for Christmas.

Verdi in Glasgow

So, there’s this.

Verdi

 

The City of Glasgow Chorus are singing the Verdi Requiem in Glasgow City Hall this weekend, on Sunday at 7.30pm. You may remember that when we last sang this, in Opole, I nearly had a cardiac event what with the drum, and then I fell in love and cried all over everything. We are being joined by our Polish maestro, Bartosz Zurakowski, who will be conducting.

For the last eight days I’ve been laid low with the plague that has been going around. For a given value of laid low that means doing a ward round interspersed with coughing fits, anyway, but I went to rehearsal on Tuesday night and stayed very quiet and listened to Verdi from the middle of it, and I’ve been kind enough to my voice that I’m starting to think I’ll be good to sing on Sunday night. I might not have any vocal cords left at the end of it, but that’s a problem for Monday.

This is going to be amazing. If you wish to join us for all this amazingness, tickets are still available through the City Halls box office.

A Love Song to Poland

At about this time last week, we were getting ready for the last performance of our week in Poland, the Rossini Petite Messe Sollenelle, all of us still stupidly high from the Verdi that we had performed the night before.

Poland was amazing.

The City of Glasgow Chorus and the Opole Philharmonic Orchestra of Poland. Photo: Douglas Jackson.

The City of Glasgow Chorus and the Opole Philharmonic Orchestra of Poland. Photo: Douglas Jackson.

If you work with me or go to church with me or are connected to me through any other form of social media or are related to me or have passed me in the street in the last seven days, you’ve likely heard it all already and seen the ridiculous grin that comes along with it. But. In the end, when someone realises that I was serious about wanting the Verdi Requiem at my funeral, trumpets and drums and everything, on that day, in the annals of stunning things I had the privilege to do in my life, Poland with the City of Glasgow Chorus will be something of which I was very proud and for unparalleled experiences will rank up there with my time in Tanzania.

And if you know me at all, even if it’s only the Internet sort of knowing, you know that saying that says a lot.

I went into this with no expectations at all. For one thing, I, like most people, was so busy that I didn’t have time to stop and think about the fact that this thing that had been over a year in the planning was finally upon us. I was looking forward to leaving the country for the first time in nearly three years and to seeing somewhere I hadn’t. I was excited about Krakow, because Krakow and also because I actually felt like I knew the piece we would be singing there. But I was also worried about whether, having mostly never spent more time than the day of a concert together, we would survive a whole week living in one another’s pockets. I thought I might find out that the people in the other sections really did have two heads – you can’t go a week only talking to second sopranos, can you? On the plane last Sunday morning, I was still making up significant chunks of the Verdi. I wondered whether this would my last time on stage with this chorus. During FY1, a run of Tuesday long days and chronically bad luck with the weekend on-call rota meant that I missed many more rehearsals than I’d have liked and all but one concert. It’s one of the sacrifices you make and I wouldn’t have swapped my FY1 year for anything, but always playing catch-up in rehearsals and never getting to do the *really fun bits did start to make a thing that I’d once loved feel a lot more of a slog. So far, this year, with a less insane rota, I’d started to remember what I’d loved about it, but I hadn’t yet fallen back in love with it. Falling back in love with it happened in the orchestral rehearsal for the Verdi. But I’ll get to that.

Krakow is a beautiful city.

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Vistula River, behind Wawel Castle

Krakow Market Square

Krakow Market Square

Sunset in the Jewish Quarter

Sunset in the Jewish Quarter

I knew very little about it before I arrived, and I was expecting something more Eastern Bloc. It isn’t. It’s like central Europe, with stunning architecture and cobblestones and crunchy autumn leaves and churches, so many churches and so much Catholicism everywhere I wondered if I had accidentally flown to the Vatican (“It’s a little like the Ship of Fools website vomited all over everything,” I said when I got back. “Except that it isn’t meant ironically.” There is an actual altar to John Paul II in St Mary’s Church, Krakow, with no indication at all that they might be even slightly worried about the second or third commandments.) There is an improbable amount of sunshine for mid-October. It’s beautiful even through the Sunday afternoon haze of flight-left-at-zero-dark-thirty been-awake-for-too-many-hours where-is-the-coffee. “So this is what autumn looks like when you don’t live in the west of Scotland,” I kept saying. My roommate and I commandeered a golf cart with an audio commentary and were taken all over the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter, and as we turned into a back lane and the iPod began talking about St Katherine’s Church and its famous acoustic, we realised that this was where, in two days time, we would be singing Elijah. Outside was a petition to St Rita, the patron saint of hopeless causes, which sounded about right. And on the South Door there were two posters, both proclaiming Eliasz sung by the City of Glasgow Chorus. “Can you stop?” we asked our driver. “Can we take a picture? That’s us! We’re singing here on Tuesday!”

The front door of St Katherine's Church

The front door of St Katherine’s Church

So sing we did, and I was reminded of all the little joys of a concert day. Of hearing it all come together for the first time. Of seeing people wander in to look around the church and staying a bit to listen to the fits and starts of an oratorio sung by people in their jeans with pencils stuck in their hair. Of people applauding and appreciating something that’s been laboured over. Of a standing ovation, and that isn’t a thing you generally get in Glasgow.

The interior of St Katherine's. My view from the choir stalls.

The interior of St Katherine’s. My view from the choir stalls.

And by now, in the between times, (in the very late nights in the hotel bar), I was learning that the people I sing with are a really brilliant group, not just our little gaggle of second sopranos, but the other people, too, the ones who I had collectively spoken about eight words before this and who I recognised only as people who had perhaps once climbed over me in the City Hall. I found out that a guy who for the last six years has sat four rows in front of me and a little bit off to the left is from where I am from. And that our accompanist has a better sense of humour and is a better gossip than I’d ever have guessed. And that first sopranos really don’t have two heads! One of the most wonderful things to come out of this tour, I think, is that I went back to choir practice on Tuesday night and I had conversations with people who sit on the other side of the room.

Then, after Krakow, to Opole.

If I had no real expectations of the trip, nobody had any expectations at all of Opole. I mean, where is Opole?

The Oder River in Opole.

The Oder River in Opole

Opole is a town in the very middle of Poland, north west of Krakow, with a population of 125,000. It has a brilliant orchestra and a gorgeous Philharmonic Hall which reminds me on the inside of a smaller version of The Sage Gateshead, the first real concert hall I ever sang in. And as Wikipedia told me when I had a fit of curiosity over *why, it’s the Polish Capital of Music. Opole is an unexpected jewel in Poland’s crown and I think it surprised us all.

On Thursday morning, I sat down behind an enormous drum that was in the charge of a very enthusiastic percussionist. Our inimitable musical director had handed us over for this one to our Polish conductor, Bartosz Zurukowski, with all the trepidation of a parent handing over its new baby – less worried about their child being stolen away, I think, than that the kid will scream and lose control of its body functions.

Starting rehearsals for the Verdi Requiem

Starting rehearsals for the Verdi Requiem

I have never sung the Verdi Requiem before. I have never heard it live. The drums exploded. The trumpets rang out from the back of the hall. I came in on the top note of the Dies Irae. The top of my head flew off. Once, years ago, I sang the Hallelujah Chorus in the Royal Albert Hall under the baton of Sir David Willcocks. I came off stage and sent a text message to a friend that said, basically, “omg that was amazing I don’t know why anyone does drugs”. That. That moment, in the middle of the orchestral rehearsal, that was when I fell back in love. I didn’t need the performance for the high. The performance was the thing that took it from awesome to stratospheric, and not only because by that point I was no longer making most of it up. The orchestra was brilliant. We were good, and we knew we were good. The concert was to a packed house, and Poland, as we have learned by now, does standing ovations and does curtain calls. As we congregated for dinner, starving and buzzing, one of our select group of groupies, the husband of one of the second sopranos, said, “It was better than magic.” It had been. How did I ever think I could have given this up? It is a high in the same way that Corpus Christi is still a high.

We’re recreating the Requiem for our thirtieth anniversary concert, on May 18th in Glasgow City Hall with Orchestra of Scottish Opera.

The next night, last Saturday, huddled backstage before the Rossini, I fought down the looming tears, telling myself that I couldn’t cry until I didn’t have anything left to sing, and I did. On stage, after the last note of the Agnus Dei, in the silence before the applause, to the cheers from a smaller but still appreciative audience and our wonderful Verdi maestro appearing unexpectedly to present vodka and flowers to our conductor, I laughed and grinned and burst into tears. I got weepy again at the Polish last supper and again on the plane — although that one I’m willing to blame on the three hours of sleep I’d had.

The second sopranos do Poland

The second sopranos do Poland

“How was Poland?” I keep being asked. My real life people are, I’m sure, absolutely sick by now of hearing that it was amazing, but I don’t know how else to explain it to them. It was an extraordinary week and at the end of it I think we all felt that we had come together to create an extraordinary thing. Poland was amazing. A stunning country. A fantastic sing. An intangible experience that I may not be able to explain but that I will never ever forget.

Nie Przeszkadzać

I’m going away for a little while.

The City of Glasgow Chorus, with whom I’ve been singing since my second year of medical school, are off to Poland tomorrow. I say tomorrow. I’ll be leaving for the airport at the eye-wateringly early hour of 3.30am, which is practically the middle of tonight. We’ll be singing Mendelssohn’s Elijah at St Catherine’s Church in Krakow on Tuesday, before going on to the Opole Philharmonic Hall to sing the Verdi Requiem and the Rossini Petite Messe Solenelle on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Don’t expect anything in the way of blogging until I get back, and then there’ll be stories and photos aplenty when I do.

The cats are in charge while I’m gone.