On Sunday I took part in a concert of popular sacred music. We had 7 soloists, a small choir, a chamber orchestra and small children’s choir. It was the kind of concert where you recognised the tune even if you didn’t know the name of it. Beautiful sacred music abounded, stretching from Charpentier through to Douglas Mews.
I had three solo(ish) moments – “If God Be For Us” from Messiah, the duet “O Lovely Peace” and the soprano solo for Mozart’s ‘Laudate Dominum”. It was the first time I’d done the Messiah aria and the Mozart with orchestra.
For various reasons I was a bag of nerves leading up to the concert. Not a dainty little jewel-encrusted evening bag of nerves, but a cavernous hold-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink kind of bag. I’m not sure exactly why. Partly because all the other soloists are such excellent singers and I was feeling a bit intimidated. Partly because my voice has been feeling quite tired and out of sorts lately. Suffice it to say, nerves are not a singer’s best friends. Shaky legs, shortened breaths and tight muscles are, funnily enough, not conducive to a good sound.
We had a rehearsal earlier in the afternoon and my bits went ok. But I could feel my voice was not in the greatest shape. And the more I thought about that, the tenser I got. Is it any wonder that 20 minutes before the start of the concert I got a migraine? Fortunately – if you can call getting migraines fortunate – I pretty much only get the visual aura for about 15 minutes or so, and then just a residual ache around my forehead, not the searing pain that so many do. However for the next hour or two afterwards, my brain also feels like it has put on a fluffy pink dressing gown and slippers with bunny ears and has smoked something slightly illegal. You can see where this is going right?
The little man that lives in my brain and gives a running commentary every time I have to sing to an audience had an absolute field day. He revelled in his role, criticising onsets which started with a slight catch, mocking phrase-endings that went wobbly from lack of breath and whispering with vicious gleefulness about upcoming difficulties which, in his opinion, I was unlikely to surmount. Do you get put in jail for stabbing an imaginary little man who makes it his life’s mission to tell you how useless you are? Because I would have considered it totally worth it. Especially if the onset to his dying screams was less than perfect.
But hey, first-world problems right? The majority of what I sang was fine. Some of it was actually beautiful. There, I wrote it out loud. Like my little blogger ‘About Me’ blurb says: I like to sing. Sometimes when I sing, I sound good. I’m working on the other times.