Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Friday, November 11, 2005

Choir ordeal: Third and final part

As you may remember from that first post, and then the description of the second audition, the university choir is not all that comfortable a place to be.

Once I'd scraped through the second audition, I was expected back on Monday this week. Now I had every intention of going, and got to the bus stop in plenty of time, but it was a drizzly cold night, and the roads were jammed. I waited 45 minutes for the bus, when one finally arrived it was so packed with people that the doors closed before I got anywhere near, and anyway I was already late. So, I missed that rehearsal. I really should have gone. I really, really should have gone.

Last night, I arrived and saw the big boss choir leader sittting at the edge throughout the warm up. Funny, I thought. She wasn't there before.

We went through the pieces, me still glancing at the words from time to time (the old Polish words in the national anthem are really not that easy to learn, ahem).

Then there was some talking about groups of mixed voices, no words, and everyone filed out. I understood that the third audition was about to take place. In front of the big boss choir leader. My heart sank.

I hate auditions. It's that deep powerful hate that some people use against gays, or Muslims, or whatever. It's that hate that should never be directed at yourself because you'd go up in smoke. It's a feeling I don't often experience, just public speaking and singing. That's all. Oh, and I hate the hate. I wish I could listen to the reasonable voice telling me that getting nervous doesn't help, especially if you want to sing. It makes muscles clench that should be relaxed. I try and listen to the voice. Honest.

At least we'll be in groups, I thought. At least we're all warmed up. And at least I can convince myself it's not public singing, it's just a group of people singing together. A mini choir.

We waited and waited. They listened to three groups and then called them all back. When they left the rooms, some people were happy and some were trying not to cry. Oh God.

We were second in the next group of groups.

We went in, lined up and told them our names. The big boss choir leader looked at me and asked another choir leader where I'm from. 'From England' I said. She looked at me with a raised eyebrow and I wished I'd let the other woman answer for me.

We started. We were stoppped. We hadn't started together. We started together and continued. We worked our way through the three pieces and were stopped continuously. Not good for the morale or the nerves.

I'd started out ok. I thought I had my voice under control, but the panel of choir leaders' expressions got to me. When you are trying to control your breathing, remember the words, relax your muscles and sing in a key you don't actually feel comfortable in, at the same time as trying to stop your top lip from quivering and resisting the urge to drop everything and run from the room, let me tell you the last thing you want to see is a choir leader with her head in her hands, or eyebrows raised to the very tippy top of her head, or an expression of despair mixed with pain. They were not encouraging.

It was a total disaster.

I actually didn't recognise the voice that came out of my mouth. It was weak and squeaky and had no place in a choir.

They obviously agreed with me. I'm out.

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Anonymous gs said...

Aww, bad luck.

When James Galway auditioned to be main flautist for the Berliner Philharmoniker he was so incensed by their fascistic audition techniques that he told them to stuff the job when, at the end of a long day, they offered it to him. They had to spend the weekend talking him back into it and explaining that they lost the human touch for the ideals of art, but he was right, they just shouldn't. Strikes me you should a)consider whether you think all this "survival of the fittest and the devil take the hindmost" treatment is appropriate for a collaborative operation like a choir, and then, if yes, go back angry and have another audition. You may get used to the way they do it? But if no, tell them, well, you know what to tell them...

11:52 am  
Blogger Gustav said...

Sorry to hear that becca.

I hate auditions too, for the same reason.

Heartless bastards.

11:54 am  
Blogger Becca said...

Thanks :)

On one hand it's probably just as well, five hours a week is a lot, I'm actually not a student so have no right to be in a university choir and I obviously don't react well to their system.

However, one of the reasons I like choir singing is because its means I avoid singing solo, which was not the case with this choir and a bit of enforced solo singing might have been good for me.

I just feel I let myself down a bit, because I can sing and I should have been able to pass the audition easily.

Still, it's Poland's Independence Day today and my birthday tomorrow so there are plenty of other things to think about!

12:25 pm  
Anonymous Edd said...

Ugh, that sucks. I'm sorry. Don't they realise they're losing great singers by traumatising them like that? Is there a choir more suited to you?
Anyway, forget it for now, and have a great birthday. I fear my physical present won't reach you in time...

1:40 pm  

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