23 March 2009


I always feel a little let down after a concert.

Natural, I expect. You spend three weeks practising - more, really, as we get the music a couple of weeks before first rehearsal - practising with increasing intensity. At last the week-end approaches.

Four weeks before the concert the strings have their first rehearsal. No, this is not, as I like to tell people that I pretend to believe, that we wind players are better than they are, so they need more practice. They need the extra time for two reasons. First, there are more of them in a section, so they need to get their section ensemble together before being thrown off course by us rude and crude blasters. Second, of course, they have quite a lot more to play than we have. We have sections in the pieces where we are just counting bars of rest - whilst they soldier on.

The next week-end we are all together for the first combined rehearsal on Saturday afternoon - three and a half hours together.

Next week-end - the week-end before the concert - we are together again both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, same length of time.

And now comes Thursday evening before the concert. Instead of my taking the 'bus home, Sue drives up to the University that afternoon. We eat somewhere, then go to the rehearsal venue and spend three quarters of an hour helping to set up chairs, stands, etc. There are half a dozen or so of us whose schedule permits us to spend a little time beforehand doing this.

Thursday evening rehearsal is beginning to be pretty keyed up. The concert is Saturday! We play from 7:15 until 9:30. I have found that by that time it often appears to me that this time, at last, the whole thing is not going to work. How are we ever going to get past this or that nasty bit? And - well, the ensemble at that point is a total disaster! Oh, woe is us! We rehearse in a local intermediate school's hall, so all the equipment has to be stowed out of the way as tomorrow is Friday and school is on.

By the time we get home and to bed it is after 11. I am always able to take the Friday before a concert on leave as I am definitely not getting up at 4:30 the next morning after that and going to work.

And because of that, I am available, again, to help load up the truck at the school in Howick, on Friday afternoon, to follow it to the theatre in Manukau City, set up, etc.

Friday evening rehearsal is 7:30-10PM. We have the soloists with us at last! Again, terror strikes. I didn't know that singer was going to hang on to that note so long at this point. Oh, my, the pianist is certainly muddy there - was that a new bar? Even Uwe, the conductor, seems uncertain.

Saturday afternoon Susan drives me to the theatre for the final before-concert rehearsal. And now - miraculously - things are coming together. It looks like we will make it again. Almost it seems we will make a real success out of it.

Sue comes back from her shopping at 6:30 and we dash off for a bit of dinner, then back to the theatre. 7:20 or so we trickle on stage and start warming up. 7:30 and Uwe comes out, bows, and we are off.

And I am now ... well, I cannot describe how I feel, when we are playing. But it is no wonder that after all that - and the concert itself - I feel let down.

Our concert on Saturday night - and we did a repeat yesterday, Sunday, which we do not always do - was, if nothing else, a popular success. Frankly it was not the most interesting music. The programme was deliberately put together for popularity as we need to make a profit particularly on our first and last concerts of the year. This one was some wonderful well-known arias, including "Nessun Dorma" and "E lucevan le stelle" by a terrific young tenor Derek Hill, and "Una voce poco fa" by Lilia Carpinelli - other songs by them, and crowd-rousing Strauss this and that. Friends of mine and Susan who attended loved it.

20th of June is our next - Dvorak's "From the New World." I hope to see you there! :-)

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