Just returned from an afternoon of centenary celebrations at a local landmark building. The theme was a sampling from what was going on in 1906, with readings from newspaper clippings (from all around the world, not just locally) and musical offerings, along with displays dotted around the building. People were asked to come in period dress.
I was asked to sing Land of Hope and Glory. I said yes, even though its been well over a year since I performed in front of any audience, performed anything. I wasn’t worried about my instrument (as we more pompous singers are wont to refer to our vocal apparatus) but I should have been a little more concerned with my crowd-readiness.
I knew well over half the people in the crowd. I’d sung in front of most of them before on several occasions, including doing Rule Britannia for the centenary of Federation in 2001. I shouldn’t have been nervous beyond the customary anticipatory butterflies in the stomach that signal a bit of adrenalin is pumping around the system – that’s good for a bit of performance edge.
But I got up behind that mic and suddenly my throat tightened up. That hasn’t happened to me for twenty years. Thank all that’s Noodly that I have enough performance experience that even though I was appalled I just compensated with microphone technique (I would have been more relaxed with no mic actually – the space has lovely acoustics) and refrained from belting in the opening stanza until my throat (thankfully) relaxed enough I could do a good belt later on the top notes while the crowd sang along on the chorus proper. I even saw a few doing a little touch of the BBC Proms knee-bobbing while they sang, which was a nice compliment.
Even more thankfully, there were only a couple of trained vocalists in the hall who realised just how tight my throat was and just how much I was struggling. I got The Look from each, but it was given sympathetically.
I really need to join a choral group again.
PS: One of the readings from the current events of 1906 was a boy and a girl reading from the original stage script of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The tigling and togster are watching the Disney version now, for the first time in years.