Monday, 23 April 2012

'Music for Spring' - Damn those nerves!

While watching Britain's Got Talent' on Saturday night, I could only empathise with those artistes who were featured in the piece about nerves. It seems everyone suffers from them to a degree, some successfully conquer them while others crumble and give in to them and run off stage in tears.  I felt for every one of them and knew exactly what they were going through. The subject of nerves was to figure quite strongly over the coming week.

I had an excellent run through of my programmed solo, On the Street Where You Live after Thursday's male voice choir rehearsal under the critical gaze of voice coach, Lyndon Gardner. No pressure? I think the second run through was the best I'd ever sung it so left for home, confident that I would be fine 'on the night'. However, much of Friday was spent trying to keep the nerves under control. There's a pattern emerging now where 'concert day' is spent in a state of gradually increasing anxiety. Nothing horrendous like that first solo night last November, but uncomfortable nonetheless. I dearly wish I could be calm and relaxed to help me enjoy the whole experience more and I can only hope that that will come in time. Caroline has said on occasions that it doesn't really get any better, but one becomes more able to work with it.

The concert at the Methodist Church in Kegworth, entitled 'Music for Spring' was the second concert for the Caroline Sharpe Singers with a selection of songs from Enchanted and solos from Holly Coutts, Anna-Ruth Gray and myself. Now, maybe being asked to do  a solo alongside that illustrious company added to the nerves just a touch. I don't yet feel I'm anywhere near to the class of those two in singing ability. Will I be the one duff performer of the evening? Such were my pre-gig nerves, I completely forgot to take my camcorder and tripod to the venue which I'm now really annoyed about. Oh well, never mind. As Jeff said, my finest hour is yet to come so it doesn't matter! Regretfully, with me withdrawing into myself pre-concert, poor Ruth was left to the organising of Enchanted's jackets and all manner of concert stuff. No wonder the poor lass is shattered! 

What was going to make this concert extra special was the fact that my mum and dad, Moyra and Joe, would be in the audience to see and hear me sing for the first time. I went up to Bolton on Thursday afternoon to bring them down for the weekend and their first taste of Al the tenor in a concert. When we assembled at the church we had no idea what sort of audience there would be. A mere handful were seated during our warm up, but we were delighted to find a full house by 7  o'clock. Excellent!

With Ruth situated reassuringly at my side we started with the now traditional opener I will Sing With the Spirit which is a great piece to start with I think. This was followed by three Enchanted numbers plus a solo of A Green Cornfield by Holly Coutts. Enchanted were as polished and professional as ever. Beautiful stuff and Holly's solo was truly stunning. Her voice just gets better and better I think. Enchanted followed with a few more songs including Soldier, Soldier which never ceases to amaze me. Brilliant!

Then it was the turn of CSS to return from their seats scattered randomly around the church to the stage for a song which is not the favourite of my mum, Amazing Grace. However, I was confident that she couldn't fail to enjoy our rendition with its marvellous tenor part. Ahem! We followed that with Pachelbel's Canon in D which seemed to go pretty well. This was then followed by Anna-Ruth singing Mozart's Laudate Dominum. Another stunning solo this, just to heap a bit more pressure on me. Gulp!

Enchanted wrapped up the first half with a rousing rendition of Hallelujah, which the audience really seemed to enjoy and then it was time for that well earned half time brew. The chaps in the choir compared notes re. nerves with our 'newbie' Paul feeling particularly nervous with this being his first ever concert. I know how you felt mate.  Been there! I was now at the stage where I just wanted to get on with it - the solo I mean and with it being in the second half, the 'agony' was prolonged a bit, but after three more 'Enchanted' songs I was on. Well, I gave a nod to Chris and we were off. I know I sang the right words, I think it was all in tune, but felt conscious of my clenched hands initially so tried to relax them. In a desperate bid not to look like a rabbit caught in the headlights I tried to appear relaxed and less rigid. Anna told me later that I was swaying about a bit, but I reckon that was preferable to my previous rigid statue appearance of previous performances.

On the Street Where You Live was over in a flash and I felt okay about it, but only okay. Caroline responded with the comment to the audience "Alfie Boe, eat your heart out". While Alfie won't be quaking in his boots just yet, it was alright, I think. There were 'whoops' apenty again, from the ever supportive Sis-in-law Julia and warm applause from the audience. Julia had earlier taken me to task about my previous blog as I had made no mention of her vociferous whooping during the male voice choir concert last week. Shame on me! Ta Ju, your support and encouragement and that of eveyone else who comes along is much appreciated. I know if I don't get a whoop from Julia, it will be time to pack it all in!
After all that I then had to re-focus on two more CSS songs Windmills of your Mind and Almost Like Being in Love, but managed it just about. That just left Enchanted to do 5 more from their sublime repertiore including the hilarious Physician. I reckon the girls would benefit from a degree in Human Biology for this one! Oh, and I mustn't forget the Oklahoma Medley which was as brilliant as ever and went down a treat with the audience.

On a personal level I felt a bit frustrated immediately after the concert that the dreaded nerves had spoiled my enjoyment of it a bit, but on reflection, my solo was so much better than that first effort back in November. So it is progress and as I improve I hope I will be less worried about being inferior to the other soloists too. I still find it difficult to accept praise - at least two people said how much they enjoyed my solo and that it was their favourite song. My pathetic reply was to ask whether it was STILL their favourite song! Honestly.
So there you have it. Another great concert, another solo and another landmark in my singing. I have to recognise that it's another huge achievement just getting up there and doing it at all. I've now got about seven months to get a certain song perfected for the November concert. Mind you, I daresay Caroline will have some other surprises up her sleeve for me before then!

I really can't finish without thanking a few people again:-
  • Caroline for her expert teaching and putting together such a brilliant concert.
  • Chris Hill for his sublime tinkling of the ivories.
  • Julia Willis for her enthusiastic 'whooping'.
  • everyone who came round to our place for the post-gig soiree and made it such a great night.
  • and last but by no means least, to Ruth for putting up with my concert day 'mood routine' and supporting me while getting prescious little in return on the day. If ever a woman desreves to put her fet up for a bit it is her!

Better go, I've got a LMVC profile to finish off for John Culpin who has been very patiently waiting!

Cheers for now,


  1. No mention of the finale piece?! Maybe you have erased that bit from your memory ... as predicted, though, the audience loved it!

  2. Yes, Caroline raised that point too. Shameful omission on my part, particularly as 'I Believe' had quite a few of the audience in tears apparently! Destined to be our finale of choice for a good while yet I think.


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