Just a short sabbatical…

Has it really been almost 7 months since my last post? The irony, of course, is that my last post was written while I was in Copenhagen, and here I am again, two blocks from the beautiful Rosenborg Palace Gardens. It’s already getting very cold here. Winter is well and truly on the way.

This post is going to be brief I think. I just want to update everybody (in one fell swoop) on my current situation so that there are no misapprehensions, and so I can stop having to explain the long detailed story to everybody individually.

I started my new job at Winchester Cathedral on the 15th of September, and I am already in love with the place, and the people, the music, and the atmosphere of the town. I could see myself spending many happy years in Winchester (sorry Mum and Dad!) However, my Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa for the UK expired on the 1st of October (6 days ago) and I’m yet to obtain a new visa. I left the UK on the 29th of September to sing a concert in Basel, and then came here to Copenhagen on the 2nd of October. It would appear that I may be here for some time yet.

The cathedral have offered to sponsor me on a Tier 5 Temporary Worker (Creative and Sporting) Visa, and as of June 15th they have submitted all the necessary documentation to begin the process of sponsorship. In order for me to apply for this visa, the cathedral needs a Sponsorship Licence (which they applied for on June 15th), and we are currently still awaiting the outcome of their application. Until the cathedral’s application has been approved (fingers crossed) I cannot begin my own individual application for the visa! There is no reason why this sponsorship process wouldn’t work as a means of staying in the UK, and in fact there are already people using this exact method in order to remain. The paperwork just seems to be taking a long time.

And so we wait.

I hope to write with good news soon. Until then, I have plenty to be going on with. Ars Nova have several concerts this month (and so I probably would have been in Denmark most of this month anyway!) and I have lots of other music to be learning for concerts later in the year, particularly for my trip back home! In case anybody missed that particular memo, I’m back in Melbourne from the 27th December until the 15th January, with concerts on the 29th Dec and 4th Jan as part of the Peninsula Music Festival, and the 11th & 12th Jan as part of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival. Lots and lots of Bach, and a little bit of Monteverdi – I can’t wait!

Looking forward to seeing everybody again soon, whether you’re in Denmark, UK, Australia or anywhere in between.

Consider… Ponder… Imagine.

Hej fra København!

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I’m sitting in a beautiful apartment overlooking the canal, watching the sun go down, reflecting on today’s rehearsal (whilst simultaneously worrying about tomorrow’s), downloading an English-Danish dictionary, and generally pondering life and all of its mysteries. Whenever I visit a new place, I always like to wander. I set a few landmarks along the way because, as many of my friends can tell you, I have a terrible sense of direction, but those little cautions aside, I tend to just walk aimlessly, occasionally stopping to take photos, but mostly just taking in as much of this new place as I can. And every new place has the same effect on me; I look around and marvel at how different it is, and at how similar it is to all the other places I’ve visited before, and I think about how fortunate I am to be experiencing this life, and seeing all these different parts of the world. In every new city, I always catch myself saying “What the hell am I doing here?!” before smiling to myself and walking on in search of nothing in particular.

Of course, this question usually has a very simple, and un-philosophical answer; I’m here to sing! And that is certainly the case this week here in Copenhagen. I’m here for my first project with Ars Nova Copenhagen; Bach’s St John Passion! ANC are an incredible group of 12 singers directed by the brilliant Paul Hillier, and after only 2 rehearsals with them I am already completely captivated by these people and their commitment to the music they create. A (big) part of me really does wonder what I’m doing singing with them, but as long as they have faith in me then I will do my best to keep that faith well-placed.

We begin rehearsals with the orchestra tomorrow, which is always an exciting point in preparing works like this. We have our first performance on Thursday at St Luke’s Church in Århus, another on Saturday in Odense Domkirke, and the third and final (to be recorded by Danish National Radio for later broadcast) on Sunday at Garnisonskirke here in Copenhagen. It’s my first St John, and having done the Matthew for the first time almost a year ago, I can’t help but try and compare the two, only to come to the conclusion that they are just so very different, and I really like them both! Don’t ask me to pick a favourite, I just don’t know if I can!

Erwäge…  Erwäge…… Erwäge.

Procrastination is good for something…!

It’s been almost 9 months since my last entry, and it looks like it’s taken the impending due date of a major project (and the procrastination that comes with said due date) to get a new post out of me.

This catchup is probably going to work best if I can keep things in chronological order.

The concert in Moscow (alluded to in my last post, apparently) was a great success, and there is videographic evidence on YouTube if one cares to seek it out! I still remember my experience of Moscow very vividly, and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to visit such a wonderfully historic city. Of all the places I’ve been to thus far in life, Moscow felt the most alien to me; it was like nowhere else I’ve been, before or since, and I can’t wait to return there again later this year.

The trip to Madrid that followed thereafter was 4 days of heaven. Sunshine, swimming pools, tinto de verano, tapas, wine, rowing boats and lots of food; with ASS (tehe) as our fearless translator we hit the town shopping and sight-seeing, drinking and eating, drinking some more, and lazing by the pool in the sun in the afternoon. With this as my only planned holiday since moving to the UK (and still my only one since!), it was wonderful to be able to completely relax for a few days and let my body and soul recharge.

July brought a few exciting things to the table, including a trip to the south of France for a choral workshop at La Maison Verte, my first visit to the Royal Opera House to see Joyce DiDonato and KB in “Cendrillon”, several performances with the Armonico Consort, and a return to the Dartington International Summer School, the original and humble beginnings of my European career in 2010. This time around I was involved in the Opera Project, which this year was Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. I was invited to take up the role of the sailor which, being a very (very) minor part, happily allowed me time to involve myself in other facets of the summer school, including madrigal singing and massed choir. Just like last year, DISS did not disappoint in it’s vast range of concerts, activities and masterclasses to involve oneself in, and also like last year I made several new contacts, and several more friends! Hoping to return again this year, but only time will tell if it is manageable.

August was a relatively quiet month, but included a few exciting “firsts” for me, including my first service at Westminster Abbey, and my first concert at the Royal Albert Hall; a performance of Mozart’s Requiem with Polyphony under Stephen Layton as part of the BBC Proms series. What an experience for little me, one that will stick in my memory for many years to come, I’m sure.

September saw me back in Basel for the beginning of our 2nd year of AVES, auditioning for St Paul’s Cathedral and the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, and my first performance with the Birmingham-based group Ex Cathedra directed by Jeffrey Skidmore – the Rachmaninoff Vespers interspersed with piano solos in Birmingham Symphony Hall; a very moving performance, and my first experience of the vespers, but hopefully not my last! What stunning music.

October included another week in Basel, a trip to Vienna with vocal ensemble Basiliensis as we launched our first CD, and, most importantly, the arrival of my parents for their first ever trip to Europe (also marking the first time my mother has ever left Australia! She had to apply for her passport and everything.) They landed in London on the 9th of October (just in time for my birthday) and we spent a week being tourists around the city, mum taking literally thousands of photos. The next week they followed me to Basel and while I was at school all day they were off exploring other parts of Switzerland (and taking thousands more photos) and would return in the evening to recount their travels to me over dinner. I returned to London on Friday evening as usual while they continued on to France where they spent the next few days apparently trawling the countryside, admiring the scenery, visiting wineries and speaking very limited French. I had taught them how to say “I don’t speak French” and hoped that would be enough. On the 25th I flew to Vienna with KM to begin our week-long stint with Basiliensis, putting on several concerts in and out of town, and presenting our new CD to our very welcoming audiences. All the concerts were a great success, we sold several CDs, made a number of very helpful and very kind new friends and colleagues, I ended up seeing a friend from back home who was living in Vienna at the time (shout-out to MB) and perhaps best of all, my parents ended up making it to Vienna to hear our city concert. We headed back to London on the 1st of November and they flew back home on the 5th after many dinners, several drinks, and quite a few tears. Apparently they are planning another trip for April next year. I hope I’m still here by then…!

November was an interesting month, with two AVES weeks crammed in there, a couple of auditions, more singing with the Armonico Consort, as well as two performances of the Victoria Missa pro defunctis on consecutive weekends with two different and wonderful ensembles. First was an ad hoc band of singers brought together under the name of Illumina, most of whom I had met and sung with numerous times around London. The second was with an already established ensemble called Siglo de Oro, with whom I now perform quite regularly, and again I had met and sung with most of the singers before. It was about this time that I began to realise that London isn’t actually as big as it seems, and there is still a limit to how many people there are and can be in one industry in one city. Sure, it’s a much bigger pond than Melbourne, but it’s still a pond all the same. Both performances were exquisite, the Victoria is an absolute favourite of mine, and I always welcome the chance to perform such glorious music.

December was very busy, as it is always prone to be. Ex Cathedra took up a lot of my time, but I am by no means complaining. A series of candlelit concerts in Birmingham and its surrounds were received with full houses everywhere we went and rapturous applause culminating in several encores every night. It was a challenge for me to step up to some of the repertoire that we were covering but I enjoyed the task, and I definitely reaped the rewards by the end of the series. Scattered in amongst these concerts were several extra Christmas and carol services, evensongs, auditions, Christmas dinners, concerts and shopping! A very Merry Christmas indeed!

January and February have been rather quiet, which has been nice, if I’m honest. I’ve had my regular Sunday services at St James, a week in Basel in January (joined by KM in the absence of one of our sopranos!), a few more auditions, a performance and choral workshop with Siglo de Oro, rehearsals for our new (almost) All-Aussie madrigal ensemble Van Diemen’s Band (do you see what we did there?), a few long-overdue singing lessons and lots of catching up with friends. Mostly I’ve just been planning for the rest of this year, which is already looking quite busy, which is great! I’ve got several tours to Europe with the Gabrieli Consort (which, frankly, is a dream come true for me right there), have got a CD recording lined up in September with Anthony Rooley and co., I’m visiting Spain with Capilla Cayrasco, and I’m also starting my new regular job with the Grammy Award Winning Ars Nova Copenhagen in March. First project on the menu? Bach’s St John Passion, of course! The 12-voice ensemble are singing all the choruses, with step out recits and arias, and needless to say I’m very excited at the prospect of working with such an esteemed group of singers.

So I guess that’s it. You’re all caught up. I’ll try not to leave it so long next time!

10 days. 4 planes. 3 cities. 2 adventures. 1 blog.

Excitement is mounting! At the time of writing, I am sitting on an aeroplane high above what I assume by now is Russia, listening to some Gesualdo and taking some time to think ahead to the coming days. I am Moscow bound, and will be singing in a concert on Saturday night with a chamber choir run by a colleague of mine. We are performing Bach’s cantatas BWV 161 and 182 and I’ve been slaving over the scores for weeks. Here’s hoping all the work will have paid off. Even though I’m actually physically on the plane at this very moment, I still can’t quite believe I’m going. I never thought in a million years that I would ever visit Moscow (which is not to say I had never wanted to!); it has just always seemed so far away. Even from London it’s a 4 hour flight which, as I know all too well, is not that far, but it is certainly further than, say, Paris, or Berlin, or Vienna. It sounds as if I’m not excited to be going, but nothing could be further from the truth! I will be staying with my friends (colleagues from ‘Basiliensis’, who incidentally hosted another fellow ‘Basiliensis’ member last week; she said she had a great time!) and will hopefully have plenty of time to go out sightseeing. I’m most keen to get to Kremlin and see the enormous cathedrals, which KM managed to do I think. It will just depend on the schedule, which I’m yet to see! Time will tell.

So I’m in Moscow until Sunday afternoon, when I fly back to London and, thanks to timezones and flight times, only lose 1 hour of my day. Will be hitting the pillow pretty hard on Sunday night I imagine. I’ve said I’ll be singing at St James’ for Evensong but I do have a contingency plan in case that just isn’t going to happen. I think I’m far too organised. And on Monday I’m flying off again, this time to Madrid to visit ASS! … Awkward initials aside, I’m sure it will be a lot of fun as it’s technically my first holiday since I moved here! The rest of my jaunts have been for concerts or study, so it’s going to be nice to not really have an agenda, and to just be able to laze about by the pool in the Spanish sunshine until 10pm when it will be time for dinner and sangria and other such Spanish things. Markets, tapas, swimming, alcohol, dancing, swimming, shopping, tapas, alcohol and shopping (and markets) are my primary concerns for those 4 days. It will be bliss. I think ASS (haha) has a daytrip planned for us too. Brilliant, can’t wait!

Since my last post I’ve had a few church services, a couple of specials as well (wedding and funeral, and of course Ascension). One particular wedding was wonderful; a quartet of friends out in the countryside (Surrey to be precise, where Miranda lives!) singing very nice music very nicely in a tiny 80-person-max church to a congregation of about 140. This was followed by aperitifs, dinner and drinks at JW and HCA’s house in Dartford with fun and frivolity into the night. HCA and I made our way into St James’ for Sunday morning to find ourselves singing Palestrina’s gorgeous Ascension Mass (double tenor part, I always love having another tenor singing with us). One of the more memorable St James’ services for me I think, not least because I think I may have received the RK equivalent of a compliment in the form of a smile whilst I was singing. Well chuffed, innit.

And in sad news, my wonderful housemate GP is moving out. She has decided she needs to live closer to her new job, which is fair enough given the hours she is keeping and the lifestyle she is needing to maintain. But I will miss coming home to her, and her to me. Visits will be plentiful, and Skype dates commonplace. Everybody that comes into our lives does so for a reason, and whether they’re here for a short while, a long while, or in it for the duration, they will all touch us or help us in some way. I don’t think we’ve had long enough just yet GP.

The captain has switched the seatbelt sign on. Please switch off all electronic devices in preparation for landing.

The long-awaited trilogy.

Disclaimer: This post was written over several sittings, and therefore I cannot be held responsible for tangents, readability, lack of interesting content, repetition of uninteresting content or for the general flow of the work as a whole.

Part 1: 6th May, 2011

Well my last post ended with me heading out into the garden to bask in the glorious sunshine that London had miraculously turned on so early in the springtime. And whilst a lot has happened since then, that is exactly where I find myself now on this beautiful May day. The morning and early afternoon have been wiled away with washing, cleaning, some television and lunch at Wagamama with a friend, and the only plans for the afternoon are to find music for the weekend, have a quick look over everything to refresh the memory, and then get stuck into some serious relaxation.

So, where to begin? The flight back to Australia was rather good, from memory. On both planes I had 3 seats entirely to myself (very luxurious!) and as a result I managed to get quite a bit of sleep on both flights. Perhaps too much, in fact, as my jetlag this time around lasted over a week, and I didn’t feel quite right until the first day of rehearsals for the St Matthew Passion, which was, mercifully, 10 days after I landed. I very quickly made plans to catch up with anybody and everybody who had some free time for lunch or a coffee, and before long I was rather worn out and beginning to feel a little under the weather. I made the grown-up and unhappy decision to cancel on a few people (sorry!) and opted to have the couple of days before the first rehearsal completely off. And so I just sat around my parent’s house watching daytime television and playing piano (how I miss playing piano). Occasionally I would go over some of my Passion music, but by this stage I’d already spent a decent amount of time on it all, and didn’t want to overdo it.

The rehearsal process seemed to rush by so quickly, and before I knew it it was time to take the stage for the performance. The Elizabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre was completely packed out, not an empty seat to be seen, a feat I had never personally witnessed until that evening. It was a wonderful feeling to step out in front of so many people alongside over 100 other musicians for such a monumental musical event in Melbourne. And in the blink of an eye, a mere 3 and a half hours later, it was all over! Everyone seemed to think it went very well; the audience were incredibly appreciative, with about 2/3 of them giving us a standing ovation. And the MRC seemed very pleased too, and are apparently already planning to put on the St John Passion this time next year (fingers crossed I might get a call!)

And so with the Passion behind me, it was time to head to Sydney.

Part 2: 18th May, 2011

Sydney turned out to be quite a lot of fun (not that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy myself! But I’m from Melbourne, and all my friends are in Melbourne!) I landed on Monday afternoon and made my way directly to St James’ church and had coffee (well, tea) with WTJ before rehearsal. The schedule for Sydney was rather intense for the first week, what with it being Holy Week. We had a lunchtime concert on Wednesday featuring some of the Victoria Lamentations of Jeremiah, as well as a new work commissioned by St James written by Joseph Twist, a young Australian composer (who was also singing with the Choir of St James’), who was asked to write a piece based on (or inspired by) the Victoria Lamentations.

And so we sang through Twist’s Lamentations of Jeremiah, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did our very appreciative audience on Wednesday! Thursday saw us begin our long stint of Easter services which included two more on Friday and two on Sunday, one of which was Easter Vigil at 5am! It was worth the early wake up time though to see the all the parishioners sitting in the darkness of the church clutching their candles, which was soon followed by the cracking of party poppers, throwing of streamers and blowing of party whistles as it was declared that Christ had risen! As a non-religious person (though spiritual), even I found this to be an extraordinary experience.

After the hectic schedule of Easter, it was nice to have a few days downtime, but this was shortly followed by rehearsals for the next concert; A Royal Occasion. What with the disappointment (*cough*) of not being in London during the festivities of the Royal Wedding, this was, I felt, an excellent alternative. Several choristers made it impossible to avoid the wedding hype, though, checking updates on their phones during rehearsals! I was slightly less keen. The concert, featuring music mostly by Handel, including a couple of Coronation Anthems, the Birthday Ode to Queen Anne, and Purcell’s My Heart is Inditing, went very smoothly! The choir of St James’ King Street and the Ironwood Chamber Ensemble put on a wonderful show, and the well-attended concert was received with great applause. Much tapas and sangria followed the concert, and then it was back to Melbourne, a few more days with some friends and family, and then back to Blighty. The whirlwind tour of Australia was at an end.

Part 3: 28th May, 2011

And here I am on an overcast Saturday afternoon, after a fairly busy week, enjoying a Vicar of Dibley marathon on Gold. I’ve been back in London for nearly 4 weeks now, and quite a lot has been happening! On top of the regular church services at St James’ (where I appear to be posted indefinitely now, cross fingers), I’ve had a CD recording weekend with newly formed ensemble ‘Basiliensis’, comprising of past and present students of the AVES program at Schola Cantorum in Basel. The aim of the recording project was to produce a promotional CD that we can send out to festival organisers and the like in the hopes of snagging some interest in who we are what we do! The CD is presently in post-production, so once it’s all done and dusted we can start carting copies around to everyone. Very exciting times.

I’ve had a couple of concerts since returning back, one in particular with the Decimus Consort in Tunbridge Wells, an excellent program of Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Lassus and a few others. And this past week in particular has seen me running all around London singing in numerous memorial services and weddings. Such is the freelance lifestyle; it never rains but it pours. And RT has been visiting London for the past week! We’ve caught up numerous times, enjoying a picnic in the park, and a performance of Much ado about nothing at the Shakespeare Globe, where we struggled to stay dry standing out in the yard. Can’t say no to £5 tickets, though!

And what’s on the cards for the coming weeks? Several more auditions for various churches and ensembles, the occasional special services (memorials, funerals, weddings) and a trip to Moscow! A colleague from ‘Basiliensis’ actually lives in Moscow and runs her own chamber choir over there, and she has invited the other members to come and visit individually as soloists for concerts. My VISA is still being processed, my Bach is still being practiced, and the weather in Moscow is looking more promising than in London for the next few weeks. Bring it on!

Summertiiiiiime.. (and the Lenting is easyyy)

Yeah, I’m doing ok with this Lent thing. Avoiding chocolate, cake, and biscuits has been fairly simple actually (if we don’t include last night at AS’s birthday where I had some birthday cake… it was a Sunday, and technically you’re allowed to rest from your Lenten pact. I still felt bad, but didn’t want to offend the person who made the cake!) Of course, I’ve managed to find alternatives and replacements for all these things anyway, replacements which are probably much worse for me. But never mind. My favourite so far starts with a piece of fruit (an apple or banana usually, or some tinned peaches or apricots) with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, half a teaspoon of honey and some crushed almonds. A perfect dessert, but, as has been pointed out by just about everybody I’ve told about it, it probably has more calories and sugars than just eating some chocolate, so why bother? Why bother indeed. Still, I shall stick by my pact as well as I can. And I think I shall also start trying to cut down on the replacements that I know are just as bad. The idea here is to get a little bit healthier so with that in mind it’s less sweets and more fruit!

The past 10 days seem to have whizzed by. I haven’t really been overly busy but I’ve been doing things every day to keep myself going. The concert with Canterbury Choral Society (‘Israel in Egypt’) was great fun. A choir of about 100 people plus the Hanover Band and some excellent soloists made for a wonderful performance that was appreciated by all in attendance. And what a stunning building, the Canterbury Cathedral. Immense, grand and stately. And the crypt (where the singers gathered before the performance) is amazing, seeming to stretch on forever. It wouldn’t be hard to get lost down there, and I certainly wouldn’t want to. The following day it was back to St James’ for two services, the usual Sunday. Through the week I just had a few coffee dates with friends, and on Wednesday I met a singer/choral director/conductor that I was put in touch with by a friend back in Melbourne. We chatted for an hour or so, with him asking me what sort of stuff I was hoping to get into while I’m over here, and he has very kindly offered to help out any way that he can. Fingers crossed there! Thursday I sang in a special service at St Mary-Le-Strand for the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and again I met some lovely new people and we sang the Byrd 5 part mass (one of my favourites) and Ecce virgo concipiet, also by Byrd. You can never have too much Byrd in your life, I think! Saturday I ended up being involved in another bumping situation, this time with the Chigwelian Choral Society out in Epping, the far north-east of London and a good hour and 20 minutes from my house! A lovely group of about 40 mostly senior citizens, we tackled the Duruflé Requiem and Vaughan Williams Benedicite, and pulled both off with a great deal of success I thought! I certainly relished the opportunity to sing the Duruflé again, it’s such a wondrous piece of music, and the audience seemed to really appreciate the choir’s efforts.

The next morning, being Sunday, it was time once again to head to St James’. I had discovered on the train on my way home the previous evening that the clocks had to go forward one hour that night, meaning we would lose an hour of sleep, and given the previous issues that iPhone’s have had in dealing with time changes, I decided to set multiple alarms to ensure I was awake in plenty of time. I set one for the time I actually wanted to wake up (7:45am) and one for an hour earlier in case the clock didn’t change automatically (6:45am) and one another half hour earlier (6:15am) just for good measure, and so I could check the time against a watch borrowed from my housemate! What time did I wake up? 9:30am. What time is rehearsal? 9:30am. What time is the service? 10:30am. What time did I get there? 10:20am. At least I made it, and it least it was a mass I’d sung before! But that is definitely the last time I trust my iPhone for an alarm when the clocks change.

This week I have an audition (I’m not saying for what or when it is just yet), a funeral, a wedding, and two more services on Sunday and then I fly back to Melbourne on Monday. Crazy. I have lots of practice to do!

And I can’t sign off without mentioning the absolutely glorious weather that London has been having over the past week. Unbelievable! And today is no exception. I think I will go and bask in the sunshine out in the back garden.

Nothing is perfect; Practice makes progress.

I’m sick, yet again. This is all becoming far too normal and routine for my liking. I don’t remember the last time I felt 100% well. Does anybody ever feel 100% well? Is that setting the bar a bit too high on my own health and wellbeing? Maybe 90% is more realistic. I think I’ve been at 90% only a handful of times in the last few months. Prior to last week I’d been fighting off a throat infection (with the aid of my good friend penicillin) and I felt like it had been well and truly staved off by Sunday when I flew to Basel for AVES week. Singing was relatively strenuous as always, and most nights I returned home very tired and feeling like perhaps I’d worked just a little too hard. There was a dull soreness still lurking in my throat, but of course, we press on! By the end of the week I was actually feeling marginally better, and the concert on Friday went rather well.  It was only after I’d landed back in London that I started to feel a hint of impending sickness, and lo and behold, by Tuesday I had another throat infection. Or possibly the same one carried over. I’m not too sure. I guess this time around I’ll be sure not to drink any alcohol with my penicillin. And I shall be much more fastidious in ensuring I take each dose at an appropriate time, and on an empty stomach an hour either side of food. Yes, I shall follow the pharmacist’s directions. That should do the trick!

Despite my constant burden of illnesses (oh woe), my singing doesn’t ever seem to be too effected by it, and lucky thing too. If I wound up having to cancel or pull out of things due to my being sick I wouldn’t be earning any money to speak of! Perhaps thats why it’s not effecting my singing. Because I can’t afford for it to. It just can’t. It’s not an option. Hmmm not really an ideal situation. But I suppose that’s the risk of freelancing. I have decided, though, that a part-time job isn’t completely out of the question. I can and have been getting by on the amount of money I’ve been earning from singing alone, but I would quite like a little bit more cash to splash around. The problem is that minimum wage in this country is excruciatingly low. £5.93 per hour. For those playing at home in Australia, that’s the equivalent of about $9.65. And that’s the adult figure. Quite a predicament. Essentially what that means is that if I were to get a part-time job it would have to be something I actually wanted to do, and would enjoy. It’s a nice position to be in, to not actually need a part-time job, because I don’t have any pressure, then, to take the first job that I get offered; I will still make my rent, pay my bills, and eat quite happily. But if the right job is offered, I would quite happily work 20 hours a week or so for such little remittance, and hardly whinge or moan at all! I have applied for one such job, but I shall say nothing until I hear back from them. There’s a short-listing process, and a potential interview process as well, and I’m hoping it doesn’t take place whilst I’m in Australia… Let’s wait and see.

This week has been fairly uneventful, and yet I have managed to fill my time with all sorts of things. I went swimming on Monday and Tuesday, but since becoming sick again I thought it might be wise to avoid the pool for a few days at least. I will probably go back on Monday. I’ve been doing lots of singing practice every day too, which has been wonderful actually. Preparations for the St. Matthew Passion in Melbourne are going well (I think!) and I’m starting to feel a little more at ease with my arias. I’ve been listening to the entire passion on my iPhone whenever I’ve been travelling anywhere and gradually getting a feel for the work as a whole. Such incredible music, all of it. I’m very excited to be involved in this project. I’ve also been practicing for tomorrow’s performance of Handel’s ‘Israel in Egypt’ with the Canterbury Choral Society and the Hanover Band in Canterbury Cathedral. How exciting! We (that is the professional “bumpers” who are being paid to bump up the numbers and the sound of the choir) had rehearsal on Wednesday evening with the director, which went well. I met a few new people, saw some old ones as well, and discovered the fun and often quirky music contained in this work. I really wish I was singing the tenor solos, they look like a lot of fun! One day, I’m sure.

The rest of my time this week has been devoted to resting. Daytime television, endless cups of tea, hot water bottles, wheat bags, penicillin and paracetamol, plenty of water and lots of fruit and vegetables. I’ll be bouncing around again in no time. Today, however, I had lunch at Pho (wonderful Vietnamese place in Farringdon that I frequent far too often with several different people) with KM and indulged in some Pho Ga (essentially chicken noodle soup) knowing it would do me a world of good!

Oh, and I’ve given up chocolate for Lent. Part of me is convinced that this is the reason I am sick (the very same part of me that wants chocolate).