Synergy represented by:

Micaela Haslam, Heather Cairncross, Robert Kearley, Michael Dore

“Having just returned from Paris and with one day to turn around, I spent most of my “day off” unpacking and repacking.  I had to think ahead not only to Salford but also to Reading (where Caroline and Heather would be singing Drumming the following day), Cologne (for Three Tales) where I was heading straight from Salford, and Barcelona (for Music for 18 Musicians) which was immediately after that.  Apart from making sure everyone had all the right music and travel documents etc, I also had to bring costumes (all of which are in my loft), so there was quite a lot to think about.

Media City

Steve Mackey, sensibly, had suggested that the singers and guitarists (Catch) get together with him to go through Dreamhouse the night before the concert.  We had no tutti rehearsal scheduled before the balance on the day, so we were to hit the proverbial ground running.  Steve had conducted some of the guitar and vocal recording sessions on the (Grammy-winning!) Dreamhouse CD, but this was to be his Dreamhouse orchestral conducting debut.

Dalek on the loose in Salford

Heather, Mike, Rob and I arranged to meet in our hotel foyer in order to go over to the rehearsal together.  The Holiday Inn turned out to be right next door to Media City, so that couldn’t have been much easier.  What was less easy was finding the hotel in the first place, largely because there are no signs for it anywhere en route.  Apparently, Salford council will only let them put signs up at certain times of day, which obviously means they can’t put signs up at all – bonkers!  Anyway, it’s a lovely hotel when you do find it.

Catch in rehearsal. L-R: Wiek, Seth, Patricio, Mark

I’d spent the journey from London trying to ignore the fact that my throat wasn’t feeling quite right, but by the time I got to Salford, I knew that I was going down with some sort of lurgie.  Steve was very understanding, and I sat quietly through the rehearsal, just crooning a few passages here and there.  I knew that the following morning, I might be completely voiceless.  All I could do was take it easy, not talk and keep my fingers crossed.

Bird's eye view of studio during balance

The BBC Philharmonic did a grand job with the piece, which is by no means easy.  To be honest, we could have done with another rehearsal day all together.  It was a ludicrously tight schedule, but I guess these things always come down to budget.  Steve had imported Jason Treuting, the marvellous drummer from his and Rinde’s band “Big Farm”, to play at the back of the orchestra.  Absolutely rock solid, I’m sure Jason made a huge difference in keeping us all together.

Just before the performance, we had a photo shoot, with all the audience there.  At least we were all looking fresh.  So many pictures are taken after gigs when everyone’s knackered and a bit sweaty (conductors, especially).  It did feel rather odd, though.  Our minds were firmly fixed on the task ahead, rather than on the camera lens, and we just wanted to get on with the concert.

Pre-concert photo shoot

In the end, everyone did a great job and I hope the recording has come out well.  Rinde, as ever, was incredible.  He is truly a wonder of the modern vocal world.  No-one I know can do what Rinde can do.  He has an unbelievable range, a great voice, and he acts and writes as well.  Some people are just too talented for their own good!  Anyway, he definitely earned his holiday in the Cotswolds with his lovely wife Ellen and I hope they found the pub we recommended.

Best of all – fortune was on my side!  My voice held out for the concert and I was so thankful.  This performance was a “live recording” for broadcast the following week.  No-one else has ever sung the soprano part in Dreamhouse so we didn’t have a Plan B (actually, I don’t think he would have been able to sing it either – ha!).  I have never been so relieved to sing a string of top A’s in my life (the end of Dreamhouse).  And sure enough, the following morning, I was completely voiceless.  The lurgie had landed!


We made it through!

Rob and Micaela with Steve Mackey

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