Tuesday, 26 July 2011

St. Martin in the Fields debut

Today I sang at St. Martin in the Fields for the first time.
I rang Andrea to find out when she'd like to try on a few of my dresses and Orpheus said, in the background, "Ask her to sing the Strauss with us!"
When I first came to London eleven years ago I wanted to sing a recital at St. Martin in the Fields. I went in and asked an usher. He was awfully sweet but said it was at least a year's wait and you had to submit a tape or a CD (yes it was that long ago) and recommendations and credentials. Well I didn't have much of either.
It's still at least a year's wait and as it's unpaid it's a little silly to commit to something like that when, in the course of the 300+ days you could be offered a gig with a fee attached, on the same day.
This must have happened to the singer who was to perform today, because last night Andrea and Orpheus were rung up and offered the slot.
Had to find a dress that wasn't too fancy (at a lunchtime concert never wear anything you can't wear at a lunch) and that was predominantly black (Andrea and Orpheus were in black), and that looked plausible sitting in an audience. One was damp and drying over a door. The other needed ironing. The concert started in two hours.
Out came the iron. Out came some earrings. Two Benefit makeup kits (Big Beautiful Eyes and Justine Case) and the trusty Mason Pearson brush. Out the door. Onto the first train to Paddington. Onto the Bakerloo Line, which had signalling problems. St. MIF was half full when I got there, so no chance of rehearsal. It was entirely full when the concert started.

Orpheus and Andrea played incredibly. Beautifully, wildly, passionately. They were both crying, but not too much to interfere with the performance.
I sat and watched and only halfway through the concert did I remember that I hadn't warmed up, or in fact sung a note since Sunday, when I was exhausted from singing and learning, singing and learning, then crashing and burning (see previous post). Would the voice work?
Orpheus surprised the audience and called me up to the stage to sing the last number. The man next to me stared as I stood up and walked to the front. They started Strauss's Morgen.
The voice was fine.
They went off, were cheered, came back on, were cheered, went off, wiped off tears, took their final bows. An American lady came up to me and said "That was so beautiful. Oh it was gorgeous. So unexpected. Thank you for the beauty." A German couple came up (they always seem to wear well-ironed cottons with a vaguely Safari-look about them) and asked what the piece had been. "Richard Strauss." "Oh one almost thought Mahler! Danke, danke vielmal." Everyone there was a visitor to the country. Very sweet.
Andrea and Orpheus poured out their souls through the music...his quicksilver, warm and passionate Mediterranean soul and her deep, brooding, passionate Slavic soul.

We went to see "Forests, Rocks, Torrents" at the National Gallery, right next door. Rugged landscapes of Switzerland and Scandinavia, seen through the eyes, and considerable techniques, of romantic artists. A black couple, also looking at the paintings, came up to Andrea and Orpheus and thanked them for the concert.

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