Saturday 10 December 2011

Well that went well....

Well I think it did. The church was full. The people rose to their feet at the end to clap and cheer. Oh there had been a bit of a moment, right at the start, just after the children had sweetly sung Douce Nuit (Silent Night), when they had left the bit of the little church which was up the steps, the bit where the alter would normally be only it had been repositioned to one side so that the choir could have room to sing, well down the steps the children came so that they could sit through the carols they would not be singing, so they wouldn't fidget in full view of the audience of which there were many.

I had been loaned a music stand. I have never had a music stand. I felt quite grand when I put my music on it. Felt quite the business. Quite choir leader-ish.

And as choir leader I stood in front of the choir, children and adults and others. And as choir leader I stood betwixt them and the audience, with my borrowed music stand, upon which was my music, as my companion.

The church looked lovely. I find the churches here in the Gers and Haute Pyrenees so simple and uncluttered. No dead people anywhere indoors, unlike the churches back in the UK which remind one constantly of one's own mortality by the presence of memorials and such like.

Arranged here and there along the alter space were candles, flowers, lights, and a patio heater to keep the pianist warm so his fingers would not get stiff with cold. The churches are lofty. No central heating of course, just big spaces, cool in summer, cooler in winter. But I did not need the heat from the heater because by comparison the church was colder than my house, but about the same as it would have been had we been still living in the caravans, so I am used to the cold, so no bother to me. Anyway, under my black ensemble I had thermal vest and layers and boots and socks and I was moving about, waving my arms and jigging about as choir leaders do, well as I do when I am in choir leader mode. I can't stand still and just lift my arm in miniscule movements to signal the beat of the bar. No, something else seems to take hold of me and I find myself in quite a flamboyant mode, urging the choir to sing louder or softer or not at all depending on what the carol needs. Not that they always obey. In fact most times they don't watch me trying to manoever them into singing grandly. Most time their noses are glued to their music. But I try anyway. I am not a 'quiet' choir leader. I make my presence felt. Not sure how or why I manage to do that. I guess it is a hidden part of me that springs to the surface when the occasion requires.

So, the children needed to come down off the front of the church. I had to get out of the way so moved me and my music stand to one side, mindful of the line of candles put along the front of the raised bit of church, at ankle height.

Children down. Expectant silence abounded. The audience was still stiff. All sitting. I felt like I was towering above them. The choir were standing expectantly, waiting to sing the next carol, which was 'Hark, the herald angels....' The pianist had his hands hovering over the keyboard waiting for my signal. I am not experienced with music stands. I grabbed the music stand upon which was my music, quickly I grabbed it. It did a tilt sideways, unbalanced as it was by the weight of the music, gracefully it tilted, and tilted sufficient to let slip, and fall, my music. I saved the music stand from falling onto the floor. Not so the music. That fell onto the candles. Oooopsy!

But not to worry. No bonfire did ensue. No fireman rescue was done unto me. The music was saved from an untimely death by flames, and so was I. With an 'excusey moi' said to all in ear shot I managed to retrieve the file of music, replace it on the stand, gather unto myself the attention of the choir, although by then I had it anyway especially the 'owner' of the choir who was standing central to the other choir members and sent unto me a deadly glare of 'behave yourself' which quite reminded me of the look my mum used to send me as a child.

We carried on and I did manage to get the audience to participate. I did get them soft and jellied up. I did get them to sing in appropriate places, and we did get a standing ovation at the end.

And at the end, when all were jolly from the effort of either singing or listening, when all were partaking of wine and mince pies in the Sal de Fete (local village / church hall), I tiptoed quietly away, my job done. I had got the people and place alive. That was enough. I had jigged and bounced and encouraged. Onwards I went to my home. To a cup of hot chocolate, the dogs, the geese, the chickens, the pigs, the sheep, and Hubs who came to the gate with a torch to guide me through the various obstacles between the car and the house.

I had just done my first concert as a leader of a small English / French / Dutch choir. I think it went well.


Diane said...

Well done Vera, quite a night out. Bet that hot chocolate tasted good when you got home Diane

Duta said...

Congratulations! You are Great!
Be prepared; they'll make you now the mayor of the village.

Vera said...

Hello Diane: That hot choc was indeed a delight! As was the chocolate biscuits I had with it!

Duta: Hi, and thanks for your congrats, but I don't think I am likely to be the mayor of the village any time soon, mostly because I still struggle with understanding the French language!

SueC said...

well done Vera - hope you have a lovely time over the rest of the festive season

Horst in Edmonton said...

Awesome job with the Choir, wish I was there to hear the concert. Would have been a good time, even though I can't speak French.

Rozzie's Mum said...

Well done! Choral singing is fantastic and therapeutic. I'm not clever enough to conduct but I enjoy the singing. Concerts are over too soon, though!! Keep it up!

Vera said...

Hello Rozzie's Mum! You are right about the concerts being over too soon. Have just got into the swing of them and now they are finished until sometime next year. Nice to meet a fellow choralist!!

Vera said...

SueC: Wishing you all the best for the Christmas season as well.

Horst: Hi!Can't speak French either! But the concerts were done with enthusiasm even if a bit rough roung the edges!