Saturday, April 17, 2010


As Vicky Pollard would say: yes, but, no but, yes but, no but...'

Problem is I was performing in the EU BIFM concert at Maitisong, Gaborone. I could lose all my friends - on the other hand, it was better than I expected!

A packed house, a very packed programme, with lots and lots of singing by three different choirs (Gaborone Musical Society, Sedibeng and KTM) and about 8 soloists. Plus lots of very funny introductions to the music by David Slater, maestro extraordinaire. No really. I am not just saying it because he is the conductor of the GMS I sing in - he is a really fine conductor. Perhaps it tells that he may have conducted many school orchestras in the past; he was able to manage all our motley crew, from teenage to old age. He takes everyone by the hand and guides them through the piece they are performing, but he is precise, he does not miss out any entries and he is funny - and seems to be enjoying himself. (We were told he is a 'physical mathematician' by trade - which could be taken to mean many things - but he would not be the first musical mathematician).

Our singing was pretty good, all things considered - the moments in rehearsals when we thought we could not do it, like one piece in which we ended up flat at the end of the first chunk of singing every time. In the concert we did not, and it went really quite well. Could still do better on the dynamics, though. And tenor notes around 'd' (next to middle C) are far from my comfort zone, but then I am not really a tenor. Our Faure (the Cantique for Jean Racin, a slightly cheesy piece) went better than expected, and supported by the huge Sedibeng choir our Beethoven's Choral Fantasy was quite good, really. I do have a better recording of it, and I heard an outstanding version with the delightful Russian pianist Alexander Paley and the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra some years ago - he was having soooo much fun! Not sure that our pianist Olga was having fun, but she was doing a nice job, and her Eastern European training showed. There were some lovely contrasts between lyrical places and the more revolutionary stuff. And hey, it's Gaborone!

I missed the orchestra playing a Mozart symphony (the Paris one?) since it was just before our more challenging piece. Otherwise the band, the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra (which seems to have different members every year, I am told - much like the Vilnius Festival Orchestra, a mixed bunch of different players?) was not all that challenged, accompanying many bits of opera, for choirs and orchestra. I could have played that. I would have loved to play that, just for the sake of some playing.

The local singers had fine voices; one voice did not carry well over the orchestra; the soprano soloist, who seems to have a huge fan base, could do with having a more varied (and off-switchable) vibrato, but she is getting training somewhere in Europe - they can fix that. 'Don Giovanni' had a gorgeous voice - but I wondered if he (the character, not the singer - we are heavy on HIV here) would get laid with a velvety voice like that? Maybe he would - it might make the women feel safe and undress them all by itself; on the other hand I like my Don G to have a bit of steel, like a knife, or a sword (you get the idea....) to his voice; kind of a hint of menace. Women, I am told, find that sexy, too. Linking Don G and HIV, I am told he used a kind of leather arrangement for a condom.

So this has become a concert review after all....sorry for not mentioning more names, but I did not have a programme. (Hint to the organisers - the performers must get a programme. Individually!)