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A final spit and polish

2 April, 2013


This morning found us at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London, just up the road from St Paul’s Cathedral.  St Sep’s has been our unofficial home for several years, possessing as it does a winning (and surprisingly rare) combination of good acoustics, multiple spaces, reliable heating and modern kitchen and bathroom facilities: everything an early music vocal ensemble could wish for!  We tend to rehearse in the Musicians’ Chapel, where the wooden panelling makes for a more intimate and immediate sound, watched over by stained glass windows commemorating the unlikely quartet of St Cecilia, Sir Henry Wood, John Ireland and Dame Nellie Melba.

The final rehearsal before a tour is often rather a quick-fire affair, with the emphasis on getting through a lot of repertoire in a short time.  We are used to working at a slower pace; we would typically allow ourselves twelve three-hour sessions to learn a new concert programme!  But the repertoire we are taking on tour has all been performed recently, and this sort of session is good practice for the cut-and-thrust of a performance-day sound-check, where we may step off a plane after a long day of travel straight into a concert venue, and have get to grips with acoustics, lighting and changes of standing position as quickly as possible.  Even in a fast-paced rehearsal like this, Stile’s members are not short of ideas, suggestions and gripes; it is, we hope, a healthy sign that we still find plenty of new things to say about old favourites that we have been singing together, in some cases, for almost twelve years!

For half the group, it was straight onward to the airport: seven of us fly out to the US this evening, and will spend two days recovering from the journey in a house on Cape Cod before the rigours of the tour proper begin.  With sun forecast, It’s a luxury to be able to beat the jet-lag in time for the first concert, in Cambridge, MA, on Friday evening!  The remaining six head home to count pairs of socks and try to remember where we left our passports, before travelling out to join our colleagues on Thursday evening.