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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rehearsal with Maestro Morricone

Tonight was the big one! Our humble rehearsal hall in Muswell Hill was graced with the presence of Ennio Morricone, possibly the world's greatest living film composer. He seemed more at ease and jovial than he has on previous occasions we have worked with him, perhaps because he now know the choir and David well enough to trust us to deliver on the night.

We ran through most of the music first with David, whilst the maestro listened, then he took over and skated through all of the numbers to make sure everything was in place. He has made a few changes to the choral arrangements since the last gig we did in the Royal Albert Hall, most notably in Victims of War which now calls for a short solo soprano line in the chorus. He seemed very happy and stayed on until the end of the rehearsal.

I borrowed a digital SLR from Tara to take some pictures at the rehearsal, and hopefully I'll get the photos from her in the next few days. When I do I'll post them up on Flickr, but in the meantime here's a not very good image I took with my own compact digital (the flash is nowhere near powerful enough, so sorry about the dodgy quality).

I'll defer anymore books until next week.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Morricone I

Monday evening was the first rehearsal for our Morricone gigs at the Hammersmith Apollo on Friday and Saturday. We're very familiar with this music now, as we've sung with Morricone on the previous two occasions he came to the UK. The exhilaration and excitement gained from his music is extraordinary, particularly in his scores for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Mission. Every bar of music is part of a journey through classic cinematic history.

There still seems to be some confusion about the running order for the concert. David has been in touch with the Italian team putting the concert together, but what with difficulties of language and time delays it's proved difficult to find out exactly what we are singing. Still, we have rehearsed most of the possibilites, and we will be ready for the piano rehearsal with Maestro Morricone on Thursday evening. I'm hoping to take some photos at the rehearsal, which I will blog here and post on Flickr as well.

Today's ten books I've read from the 1001:

John Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row
Graham Greene: Brighton Rock
Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca
Aldous Huxley: Crome Yellow
Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse, Orlando
Evelyn Waugh: Decline and Fall, Brideshead Revisited
George Orwell: Animal Farm

Monday, November 27, 2006

Roses, bulbs and books

Yesterday I planted three standard roses in the garden - we're laying out a rose bed and last month we ordered a dozen or so plants off the internet. Hopefully the rest of them will arrive early next month and we can finish the bed off before Christmas. The weather is so shitty at the moment though, and it's difficult to do anything without getting caught in a rain shower. It would be nice to get the 200 or so bulbs we bought last month in the ground so that we get a nice spring showing.

Today's ten books from the 1001:

Michael Ondaatje: The English Patient
Donna Tartt: The Secret History
Margaret Atwood: The Robber Bride
Sebastian Faulks: Birdsong
Louis de Bernieres: Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Evelyn Waugh: Vile Bodies, A Handful of Dust
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
Vera Brittain: Testament of Youth
J.R.R Tolkien: The Hobbit

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Crouch End Festival Chorus news, and yet more books

Yesterday evening was a rehearsal for A Child of our Time and the Spring Symphony. The first of these is solidly in CEFC's repertoire - we've sung it several times, including the premiere performance in Poland at the Wratislavia Cantans festival in 1994. The Britten is less familiar: we've performed it once, and I'm very much looking forward to the concert on 20th January in the Barbican Centre. The choir is singing stunningly well at the moment, so I'd highly recommend coming along.

This week we also received confirmation of a concert for the BBC in November 2008 which will probably be broadcast - more news when contracts have been agreed. There is also the possibility of a TV advert recording sometime in the next few weeks.

Plans are progressing for the major event I mentioned in my blog on 7th October. This will be a world premiere performance of a major new choral work, with another contemporary work receiving its second ever performance in the first half of the concert. We're aiming for two performances in central London in the summer of 2008, followed by a commercial recording of both pieces. Over the next few weeks we will be meeting some of the larger charitable trusts and grant-making bodies to try to secure seed funding, and also identifying an educational or multi-cultural charity to work alongside us on an education project based around the concert and the recording. If all goes according to plan this will be launched in the UK and the USA later in 2008. Keep watching this space, and if you are a chorus member you will learn more about the project at the AGM on 26th January.

Another 10 books from the 1001 that I've read and enjoyed:

Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass
Émile Zola: Thérèse Raquin
Louisa May Alcott: Little Women
Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
Thomas Hardy: Return of the Native
Peter Carey: Oscar and Lucinda
Pat Barker: Regeneration
Bret Easton Ellis: American Psycho
Jung Chang: Wild Swans

Tomorrow I'll be blogging about the first rehearsal for our concerts with Ennio Morricone next weekend.

Right! I'm off now to Caron's party...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Genesis, more books and Morricone

I've been a Genesis fan, or more strictly a fan of "Genesis-before-1980", ever since a relative introduced me to their music when I was about 15. I've always enjoyed their material from the Peter Gabriel era, and some of the earlier albums with Phil Collins as front man, but I became increasingly disillusioned with the more "poppy" flavour he started to introduce later in the band's history. I've seen them several times in concert, so I was thrilled when they recently announced their reunion tour. This morning I managed to book a couple of tickets for their gig at Twickenham Stadium, which is the day after Crouch End Festival Chorus's summer concert in Cambridge. Hopefully they'll slip in a few more of the early songs than they did when they last toured in the mid-1990s.

CEFC is preparing for its next exciting gig performing the music of Ennio Morricone at the Hammersmith Apollo on 1st and 2nd December. This has been a long time coming - the earlier planned gigs in the summer were cancelled at the last moment, but it looks as though everything will go as planned this time around. This will be the third time we've played with Morricone in the UK, and I was lucky enough to be able to meet and chat with the maestro when the choir first worked with him. Hopefully I'll be able to get a few good photos this time which I promise to blog.

Another 10 books from the 1001 today:

Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre, Villette
Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey
Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
Elizabeth Gaskell: Mary Barton
Charles Dickens: Bleak House, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations
George Eliot: The Mill on the Floss

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Daily blog

As of today, I shall be adding something to my blog every day.

I've recently bought a fantastic book called "1001 books to read before you die". I've discovered that I've read around a hundred of them in my life, so I've obviously still got a way to go. Here are the first ten I've read:

Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: Frankenstein
Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, A Chrstmas Carol

I'll list a few every day for the next few days, then hopefully keep the blog updated as I read more.