Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Annual Pupils Concert 2012

When one falls off one's horse, the best thing to do by all accounts is get straight back on the beast and try again. Well, after falling off my solo singing 'horse' last week at the Leicester Festival, I've nursed my bruised ego back to relative health and prepared myself for another crack at singing a solo in my second performance at the Caroline Sharpe Annual Pupil Concert at Trinity Methodist Church Centre.

With morale dented somewhat by my mild brain freeze during Linden Lea last week, I needed a good performance to give me a 'shot in the arm' so to speak. Ever since last November when I made my solo debut  nervously singing Where 'ere you Walk, I had  set my heart on singing the Les Mis epic, Bring Him Home. A fantastic song, fantastically sung by a certain Alfie Boe, who is something of a favorite of mine (no, really?). So with less than a week to go, I still had to truly master the finishing line which is a bit high and quiet. Falsetto-ing it, wasn't working, so Caroline got me singing it with a bit of welly sorry, forte, with a diminuendo. This was easier and gave it a slightly different 'twist' and I felt much more comfortable about it.

Until Thursday that is. A sore throat arrived, soon followed by a dripping tap nose. Excellent! Just what one wants two days before a singing engagement. Hey-ho! Failure or to not perform at all were simply not options this time. After missing my second Festival solo last week, I felt I owed Caroline one and had to produce, come what way. In a strange way, it helped to focus the mind a bit and at my final lesson after work on Friday, I sang fairly well, despite the snotty nose. Provided Mr Virus didn't migrate to my chest, I'd be fine! Fingers crossed then?

Unlike last year I slept well and awoke feeling confident. No need for any panic texts to Caroline this year, but I received one from her saying she couldn't play piano for me as she didn't think she was good enough! Ho-ho!

Okay lets cut to the chase. Thankfully this year, my solo was to come at the end of the first set of songs from Les Miserables. Kicking off proceedings were The Caroline Sharpe Singers with Do You Hear the People Sing? featuring the silky smooth bass tones of Chris Higgins.  That was followed by Wendy Burns singing I Dreamed a Dream and then a duet of Castle on a Cloud by Amy Gray and Katie Muller. All these were great, particularly the two young girls who were also making their first appearance with Enchanted. It was meant to be a trio, but Kate Foster was unwell and couldn't perform. Bex Petty then sang a lovely rendition of On My Own before it was my turn.

Okay, so I was nervous, but nothing like last year, or for that matter, like last week. I was constantly aware of mucous in the throat and had to swallow several time during the song to keep it in check. The overall aim this year was to look less like a startled rabbit, while trying to sing with good diction and a bit of expression. Weeks of studying Alfie Boe's video on Youtube told me to close my eyes at the beginning 'God on high, hear my prayer' bit and raise my hands a touch at the 'if I die, let me die' near the end. Well, I would need to see a DVD of it to see if I achieved any of that, but I almost managed a smile at the climax. Audience feedback after the gig suggested a marked improvement on this time last year, so that was good to hear. 

I can honestly say I actually enjoyed that solo last night. Yes, I was nervous, but confident that I knew the song well and that was the key. I didn't feel the same confidence with Linden Lea seven days previously and it showed. But I do know I can sing a lot better so there's still lots to aim for, particularly in terms of performance.

Well enough of me. There was way more to this evening that just me and Bring Him Home. The evening was to be a wonderful mix of choirs, solos, duets and trios, covering songs from musicals, folk songs, German  songs, Italian songs, love songs and English songs. The highlights for me were obviously songs involving my family. I've already mentioned Amy's duet with Katie, which was wonderful, but her solo of Who Will Buy? from Oliver was fantastic. Amy rarely allows me to hear her sing - I have to sit in Caroline's kitchen when she has a lesson! So it was wonderful to hear her sing so well!

Also for me, the most professional performance of the whole evening was Anna-Ruth's rendition of What Good Would The Moon Be? The confidence, poise and expression added to that stunning voice was just breathtaking. Anna has an awesome stage presence - she has it when acting as well as singing. If she doesn't have a major career as a classical singer it will be an absolute travesty in my humble opinion!

As well as the kids, Ruth was also involved  in CSS and in a trio with me and Michelle Oldale of a haunting, unaccompanied folk song called She Moved Through the Fair. The pre-concert run through was to be frank, a bit of a disaster, but another try a little later went fine to dispel any late panics. As it turned out, we got it spot on and the audience loved it! Can't wait to hear that one on the CD!

May I also raise my glass and say a hearty 'bravo' to all the other soloists and duetists (?) particularly those getting up there for the first time! If I mentioned everyone I would be here all night blogging. So I will just say well done everyone! I bet you're feeling just great today ain't ya?

Oh, and mention must be made of the largest formation of Enchanted yet, an awesome nine girls. With Rose, Holly and Alice going off to their respective universities last September, three new members, Amy, Katie and Bex have joined the choir. But for this concert all the girls combined to make a very impressive sound.

Blimey, I've not even mentioned Holly and Olivia! These two girls are always so brilliant, I almost take it for granted that that will always be the case. And it was. Superb performances from them, last weeks trophy and certificates on show. What more needs to be said really?

The finale saw Enchanted sing the Beatles song All You Need Is Love and that just left the Caroline Sharpe Singers to return for the epic I Believe/Ave Maria, which with Trinity's fabulous acoustics sounded superb!

So that was it for another year. A fantastic experience and another brilliantly put together concert from the musical genius that is Caroline Sharpe. Her ability to get ordinary people singing together to produce the quality of sound that they do is a true gift that cannot be praised highly enough. And to get this 50-something up on a stage singing a song from Les Mis, is nothing short of miraculous. Thank you so much.
Thanks also to the whoopers in the audience who made everyone feel like a million dollars.

See you all next year, if not before - Christmas is a-comin' and a whole diary full of Chrimbo gigs. Bring it on!


P.S. I will leave you with a couple of photos of Saturday's performers:-

 The Caroline Sharpe Singers 

Enchanted - November 2012

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