Sunday, 14 June 2009

Voting and Concert 2 (getting the Abbey habit)

After a sleepless night it was a struggle to get out of bed, but it had to be done. My French family were coming to get me at 11:30 to go and vote in the European elections. At 11am the door bell goes. J’arrive! Brush teeth, grab voting card and passport and off we stroll into town, with two of the children in tow. C explains that I have to put one of the small notices that I received in the post, into a small envelope. Then into an urn. The envelope stuffing is done in a curtained off cubicle. We were all due to attend section 6. Envelope duly stuffed (with this one piece of paper you are voting for a political party with a team of 20 people), I approached the table behind which the 3 officials were sitting.
I hand over my voting card and passport. Lady one looks at them and passes them to man. “There is no number on it” he says, I have to go and see lady 4 at separate table. I am given a number and rejoin the main table queue.
My number is scrutinised, passed to lady 2 who writes it next to my name on her list, and I sign my name in the appropriate box.
Man now lets me put my envelope into the glass box, he pulls a lever and the box makes a “Ping” sound. Presumably announcing that another patriot has cast their democratic right to vote., or that as the Angel Clarence said in his biopic “It’s a wonderful life”, that every time a bell rings it means that another angel has got his wings; (Ok so I’m paraphrasing)
I am invited to lunch at the family’s house, so we sit in the garden. After lunch I go for a 30 minute snooze and it is time to get the suit and bow tie on and head off into town and the Abbey. It is setting up time, and the little folding benches and the red cloth coverings are put in place.

Whilst we set up, the Abbey is still open to the public and at one point a coach tour is wandering around. We have a half hour to practice, between 5 and 5.30 when the doors open to the audience, so naturally we start at 5.15pm and choir members continue to arrive. Once again people changed into their choir togs in the vestry. Here is a behind the scenes look at part of the vestry plumbing.

It was in this room that the ladies got changed. The men had to travel through this room to get to their changing room. I enquired if it might not have been better if the arrangements had been the other way round. Oh, they said you mean the ladies undressing? We don’t see that, it does not exist, they said with big smiles.
My 86 year old friend R, is there on the door, turning away people with valid tickets from time to time. The other door keeper lets them in. The Abbey begins to fill up.

By the time we take to the stage, the Abbey is at least three quarters full.
We sing and the choir president’s husband take some photos of us, the audience and perhaps even the soloists’ cleavages for research purposes?
Again I can hear only the same 2 people. Is any one singing the quieter bits except me?
This time there is applause after the various pieces. This starts after the Tenor solo. As the mezzo soprano moves past him to take up position, she looks him up and down in mock surprise. The soprano is apt to wink at us as she travels to and fro like a galleon.
I forgot to mention that she has had an accident and was hobbling on crutches yesterday, except during the performance. A lady member of the choir had also injured herself and didn’t sing yesterday or today. Two sopranos have also missed the performances. An alto sat out this performance due to a sore throat.
During the Credo second half, the tenors definitely lost it for quite a period. I stopped singing too. There was nothing much for me to go on. We picked up again though and battled through. The rows were a bit close together so it was not possible to hold the score far enough away to see the bottom half of the page. That’s my excuse anyway!
This time the audience applauded for ages and most of them stood up. Audience feedback was good from the many comments that I overheard. One woman thanked the choir director for a very moving evening. She probably meant that she had seen us wobbling about on our planks, but I like to think that she was a truly knowledgeable music lover.
After staging etc was packed up, we headed to the parish rooms where there was a bit of a spread laid on, with foodstuffs brought in by choir members.
2 down, 2 to go! The Depeche newspaper gave us a good review later that week. I have since found out that there were 80 paying attendees at the first concert and 250 at this one. This does not count the invited dignitaries who attended nor all the children. If you want to get your children off to sleep, bring them along, our singing works a treat.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to send me your comments or suggestions