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!