You may already be aware of the adage, ‘Proper preparation prevents poor performance,’ but the judge at the Upton Choir Festival on Bank Holiday Monday took alliteration to new heights. Here’s what she said what was needed for the performance package:
Presentation, preparation, projection, pronunciation, personality, pitch, phrasing, pulse, precision and poise, all of which will avoid pessimism and panic.
Well, it seems that we managed some sort of perfection in the above as we were awarded the Judges Cup for our performance of Can You Feel the Love. We had engaged with our eyes and hearts, kept the feeling up even in the spaces between the singing and made sure we all landed on the final ‘best’ at exactly the same time. We were the only choir to sing this piece by heart and it paid off! The only criticism, and this applied to all the choirs, was that the consonants in ‘laid to rest’ should be properly pronounced.
We performed after the break and it was a bit unfortunate that we were kept in the holding pen longer than anticipated while people finished their teas and coffees, and were rapidly warming down after the warm-up, but our ‘interesting quodlibet’ (singing more than one song at once) of When the Saints, Swing Low and Coming Round the Mountain (thanks Nick for the inspiration) as we walked on was the perfect foil for this and quietened people down. For Cabaret we were told that it was vibrant, energetic and meaningful, but too many heads in copies – another one to learn by heart perhaps? Locus Iste had a warm tone, sense of style, fantastic contrasts, commitment, concentration and clear diction. Goodnight Sweetheart was also warm of tone, went with a swing, rhythm, balance and lilt and was atmospheric. So all in all, I think we acquitted ourselves very well!
Other general points made were that singers should engage with their eyes – audiences are greedy to be part of the performance – that there should be a focus on consonants, especially in quiet passages, and a proper treatment of diphthongs.
The judge stressed the love of singing, the joy of harmony, singing with an open heart, camaraderie and pride when things go right. But the most important thing of all the things you wear or present is the expression.
Five choirs took part. A gospel choir started off the proceedings with When the Saints and Swing Low, much to the mirth of our contingent, and a ladies barber shop group The Belles of Three Spires, showed us all how it should be done. Great sense of style, pitching, harmony, entertainment and engagement — and lots of red lipstick!
Thanks to Jonny and Nick for showing us the way and to Gus for accompanying us. Steve the coach driver was also very pleased and said we done good.
A rollicking great result for the Redland Green Choir!