06 August, 2010

Confessions of a Chorus Member: Fiona Mcbryde

Festival Chorus Member Fiona McBryde gives a day by day account of the run up to the BBC Proms.

Conductor's Rehearsal, Glasgow
Wednesday 28th July

I would never have suspected, at the beginning of our rehearsals for the 2010 festival season, that grown women with the talent of the ladies of the Festival Chorus would be so worried about "bimming" or "bamming" in the wrong place, yet here we are. As we board the chorus bus at Haymarket and head across the M8, memorised words are being muttered under breath and scores are being checked in advance of today's rehearsals with Donald Runnicles and the BBC SSO. The bus trip to Glasgow is always an exciting sign to me that a performance with the choir is in the pipeline - and this year it marks the beginning of a wonderful festival of music and an additional outing for the chorus to the BBC Proms in London. The rehearsal goes well although we all heed Christopher's advice to his "Bell's Angels" to devote some bathroom practice to Mahler 3 before the next rehearsal.

General Rehearsal and recording for the BBC Archive, Glasgow
Saturday 31st July

After the minor mishap of the chorus bus breaking down on the way to the Royal Concert hall, our final rehearsal before meeting in London gets underway. We are very lucky ladies as we are treated to what is essentially a private performance of the whole of Mahler's 3rd symphony by the orchestra and Karen Cargill. It's truly spellbinding stuff and it puts us in the perfect frame of mind for the concert.

Day off, London
Monday 2nd August

Having sung in the Albert Hall with the National Youth Choir of Scotland but never having been to a prom before, I decided in May that this trip to London was too good an opportunity to miss for getting truly absorbed in the Proms spirit. I booked tickets for 3 concerts and after an afternoon concert in the Cadogan Hall, coffee and saunter along Southbank, I make my way to the Albert Hall from South Kensington tube station to meet friends for an evening Prom. The excitement reaches a peak when I see my first glimpse of the hall, the crescent apartments of Kensington Gore leading towards it like rippling waves of music emanating from the iconic building and out through central London. As I take in the atmosphere of the concert, it all adds to the excitement that it will soon be our turn.

Concert Day, London
Wednesday 4th August

After a fairly painless warm up and rehearsal in the empty concert hall - with the anticipation building that it will soon be full of prommers waiting to hear us sing - the ladies of the chorus disperse for lunches, sightseeing and snoozes prior to the final preparations for the concert. We assemble for final notes from Christopher at 6.15: the message is clear; the hard work isn't over and we need to give our all for one final time. At 9 o'clock we emerge sore-faced from all the smiling following a thrilling performance. We celebrate in anticipation of this weekend's rehearsals and next week's Opening Concert. The following weeks will bring our EIF performance of Mahler 3 and our reunion with the BBC SSO and Donald Runnicles for Mahler 8, bringing to end a great programme for the chorus for 2010.

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