*That* was exhausting

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 Singer with a glove-Degas 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.

Categories: arts & entertainment, Life

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6 replies

  1. Viv, you never told me you were singing somewhere!

    Absolute ages since I heard you sing, and I definitely would have come.

  2. Hi, Jen! Sorry about that. If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t tell my mum and dad either. The actual performance snuck up on me somewhat. Maybe I was just in denial about the stagefright all along, because I felt it would be just too silly. D’oh.

  3. Never knew you sang, tigtog. I’m a piano player, though all I have access to at the moment is a piano accordion (which I haven’t been practicising).
    I love ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and ‘Rule Britannia’. Those two songs – and ‘God Save The Queen’ – are the strongest arguments for constitutional monarchy I know! If Australia becomes a republic, then we won’t really be able to sing those songs any more, and it’s not as if our own national songs are really up to scratch. ‘Advance Australia Fair’ is unmemorable, and ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is more of an Australian cliche than a good song.

  4. The LoHaG and RB are so much fun to sing, although some of the lyrics in both are a bit aback-taking when paid attention to. LoHaG especially is just so perfectly structured – Elgar was a genius.

    If Australia becomes a republic, then we won’t really be able to sing those songs any more

    Whyever not? It wouldn’t be any different from Highland Gatherings singing Scotland the Brave, or Francophiles singing La Marseillaise and Je Ne Regrette Rien. People who love the culture and the music will sing the songs.

  5. That’s true I suppose, but at the very least we would have to think up new excuses for singing them, like I believe the Americans did with ‘God Save Our Queen’, by sprucing it up with new words and turning it into a patriotic American anthem (could be wrong about that – can’t remember the song off the top of my head – but I think it has been done).
    I have one interesting collection of 18th century English songs with a supposedly ‘authentic’ version of Thomas Arne’s RB – it is good, and would have been wonderful to see in its original performance. The lyrics to La Marsellaise are notoriously bloody, aren’t they? They provide an interesting insight into the French ‘national character’, to the extent that such a concept exists.

  6. The American song to the tune of GSTQ is Let Freedom Ring, but it’s usually called My Country ’tis of Thee, which is the first line of the lyrics. Apparently, all sorts of countries liked the idea of the British National Anthem and put their own words to the tune.
    At one time in the late eighteenth century it looked like the tune was going to be the pan-European royal anthem, with different lyrics for different monarchs, but then most countries decided they wanted their own unique tunes. Lichtenstein still uses it, which was amusing when they met the UK in a World Cup qualifier and the same tune had to be played twice.
    The rarely sung sixth verse:

    Lord grant that Marshal Wade
    May by thy mighty aid
    Victory bring.
    May he sedition hush,
    And like a torrent rush,
    Rebellious Scots to crush.
    God save the Queen!

    The concept of ‘national character’ is a strange one, isn’t it? Obviously there are distinct cultures, each with their special and peculiar practises and traditions, but does that actually endow a population with a distinct character beyond the broadest stereotyping? Even the pollies seem to be resorting to such rhetoric more rarely.

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