Synergy represented by:

Amy Haworth, Micaela Haslam, Amanda Morrison, Rachel Weston, Alastair Putt, Phillip Conway-Brown

“We were delighted to have another project with Clark Rundell, and we hadn’t worked with Britten Sinfonia for some time, so all good so far!  Steve Reich mentioned to me some weeks ago that he was delighted we were doing You Are (Variations) in London.  We agree that it’s a piece that isn’t aired enough.  The Desert Music is another one.  I still don’t understand why we haven’t performed it at the Proms in recent years, but I digress.  This concert was to be part of a big Reich-fest, featuring not only works by Steve Reich (and indeed Steve Reich himself) but also some of his contemporaries, and more recent works by younger composers.  The Barbican had packed as many concerts as possible into a long weekend, so it was a complex project, but we didn’t realise quite how much we’d be up against it on the day.

Getting dressed during the rehearsal

Fortunately, we’d had a good rehearsal at BBC Maida Vale studios the previous day.  When it came to rehearsing at the Barbican, however, the band before us was running so far behind schedule that we barely even had time for a sound check.  The concert was due to start at 6pm, and we didn’t get onto the stage until about 5.30.  We had expected to rehearse at around 4.30.  That clearly wasn’t going to happen, so we twiddled our thumbs back-stage and wondered whether to dress for the concert.  Finally, we decided to get changed and made-up, then of course we were called onto the stage.  At this point, we had no microphones set up, no monitors and no music stands, so there was nothing much we could do except stand around and wait.

Rehearsal set up in progress

Our first tenor, Alastair Putt, was singing this piece with us for the first time and unfortunately hadn’t been well.  He really needed this time to check whether or not his voice would work, but in the end he just had to go for it in the concert.  We did a bit of surreptitious covering in the concert, as the tenor 1 part is relentlessly high, and I’m sure no-one even noticed.

Owen Gunnell on marimba

Amazingly, the performance went really well, and the stress on stage wasn’t transferred to the audience, or indeed Steve Reich who was at the sound desk.  I thought we all did brilliantly in the circumstances.  Fortunately, I had the lovely Owen Gunnell playing marimba just in front of me – always a smile in a crisis.  During the applause, he turned to me and said “So, that was the rehearsal.  Shall we do the concert now?””


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