A singer’s blog: ANOTHER Day of Sun

14 August 2018

Our tenth Inspiration Southampton concert has now been and gone. Our sheet music and learning CDs suddenly redundant as yesterday’s papers. As we say our goodbyes someone always says, “What a shame we only get to do it once.” I agree, because when you rise to such a peak of concert readiness (thanks Pete and Teresa) and after 12 weeks of rehearsing you then perform with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, who wouldn’t want to do it all again? But, I have a very special rose in my garden that flowers gloriously, but only once each summer and the passing beauty of our one-off concert is also somehow enhanced by its very uniqueness. Maybe it’s like we sing in ‘Oliver!’: ‘There’ll never be a day so sunny, it could not happen twice.’

This concert was extra-special as our son who lives abroad was in the audience and I could see him, between the cellos and second violins, seemingly enjoying the first half. When we stood to begin Act Two his seat was empty and it took until the second chorus of ‘This is Me’ to spot him near the back of the Guildhall where he found the balance of choir and BSO much improved. Just for a moment I was wondering if he’d not enjoyed it as much as I’d thought!

I need not have worried. ‘At the last curtain call’ I noticed him (and others) standing to applaud and that moment will live long in my memory of the day. An ovation is a burst of enthusiastic applause, from the Latin ‘to rejoice’ and this derives from ‘a processional entrance into Rome by a victorious commander, of lesser honour than a triumph’. I’ve heard a previous Inspiration concert described as a triumph and that comes from the Greek, meaning a hymn to Bacchus the god of wine, (so that’s why we have a drink or two to celebrate afterwards!) and was ‘the entrance of a victorious commander with his army and spoils into Rome’. I then noticed that a corruption of triumph is trump, meaning to blow or sound a trumpet – but not necessarily your own! Strange how often we end up with the current POTUS!

Closing the first half with ‘Nessun Dorma’ was a great decision and, during the interval we heard that many (in the audience as well as some on stage!) had been moved to tears by our version of Puccini’s aria. It has so many musical and movie-linked resonances from memories of Pavarotti and the Italia 90 World Cup to ‘The Killing Fields’, ‘Mission Impossible’ and even ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ but its powerful emotional impact is probably only enhanced by this and to sing/play/conduct/hear it live is truly such a thrill.

Learning the lyrics of this piece (we ‘chose’ to sing it in the original Italian) was a particular challenge for many of us. Not however, for our Japanese tenor Masaaki who joined his wife Yoko in Inspiration Southampton this term. For him, he said, it was the easiest to learn as there were fewer words than most of the other numbers and the extra difficulty (for us) of it being in Italian was not significant to him!

Our last number, ‘Show People’ declared, ‘It’s an honour and a joy to be in show business…’ (/ Inspiration) and ‘that hum in our hearts as the overture starts helps us know how lucky we are’. It’s because of this we ‘know the show must go on’ and, come September, we’ll be back again for more.

Finally, whoever chose ‘Another Day of Sun’ as the title for our summer concert 2018 has got a lot to answer for! Parched lawns from Pitlochry to Penzance, record sales of ice cream and after-sun lotion, hosepipe bans, melting tarmac and melting Inspirationers. Just think what might have happened if the concert had been called ‘Singin’ in the Rain’! And how about ‘ Let There Be Peace on Earth’ for the Christmas concert – now there’s a thought!

Alan Matlock, Bass
Inspiration Southampton

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