Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Fantastic Day

on November 20, 2010

Since I started this blog I’ve really neglected the “singing” aspect so it’s now time to rectify that and talk about a day I spent at The Sage Gateshead.  Last Saturday I took part in Prom Praise North East with 8 other women from my church and about 100 other singers from churches all over the North East and also southern Scotland, I think.  We had already been to 3 rehearsals in the centre of Newcastle and on Saturday we rehearsed in the morning with the All Souls’ Orchestra who had come up from London and the Emmanuel College Youth Choir who were performing two items on their own.  Then there were two performances, on in the afternoon and one in the evening.

I have never performed (or attended a performance) at the Sage before and I was surprised to find that Hall One didn’t seem as big as I’d expected (probably because I’d spent the previous week listening to people telling me how huge it is!).  I was lucky enough to be moved, along with a friend, onto the front row of the choir tiers not long after we’d been squashed on at the back (!) and this meant that I had a fantastic view of all the orchestra, most of the rest of the choir (we were seated right over at one side) and almost all of the audience/congregation.  The orchestra in particular were a delight to watch at work and we were just above the percussion section which was rather noisy but it was fascinating to see the three members of the section constantly rotating around the instruments, especially at the start of the second half when they performed the overture to West Side Story.

The choir items were a mixture of hymns and choruses with which the congregation joined in: these included Creation Sings by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend, and Stuart Townend’s You are my Anchor (probably my favourite thing that we did); and some choir-only pieces which were a setting of Psalm 150, Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, a setting of John 3:16 and a spiritual called Midnight Cry which was very complicated but sounded great when it was mastered!  For some of these items we were joined by David Erik, a baritone soloist who is currently touring in the musical Chess, and it was this that made the last item quite so difficult, because his style was to sing it in a very loose and rubato way, whereas we had learned all the syncopation particularly rigidly so that we were all singing together and it was difficult always to know where to come in when the solo part was not behaving as expected!  However it was a real treat to listen to his solo items, in particular a song called Watch the Lamb, a fictional piece about Simon of Cyrene going to Jerusalem with his children to sacrifice in the temple and unwittingly becoming a part of the Passion story.

The Emmanuel Youth Choir were excellent although most of them looked very self-conscious and didn’t appear to be enjoying themselves very much!  The teacher in charge of them did a really good job at keeping them going and acting as a second conductor from her position in the middle of the group.

It felt like a very long day – by the time we left I had been there over 12 hours – and there were several delays in the car park owing to a misunderstanding among some choir members about how to pay and several people’s leaving their car at the barrier to go and pay at the machine!  But it was well worth it, and I’m looking forward to my next performance at the Sage in January, as well as my choir’s Christmas concert at the beginning of December!


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