Synergy represented by:

Katy Hill, Amanda Morrison, Micaela Haslam, Heather Cairncross

“I confess that this was a slightly worrying gig on paper. Tim Lines (who has played 1st clarinet in every Music for 18 performance that I have coached for London Sinfonietta) was unavailable and there was no rehearsal scheduled before we headed to Cork. Clarinet 1 is not a part you can sight-read, nor can you learn it on your own. The only way to get to know the cue system for Music for 18 is to rehearse with the whole ensemble, and play the piece through several times. Mark van de Wiel (clarinet 1) had done everything he could in the circumstances. He’d gone through the part with Tim, and we had an hour together in Cork to talk through the piece, but he would in effect have just one run-through before the concert – yikes!

We also had a “new” violinist for Cork – Jonny Morton. The violin begins and ends Music for 18 and plays most of the way through, so a further half hour was put aside in Cork to talk through this part. Fortunately, Jonny was incredibly quick to grasp what was going on, and was delightful with it.

Jonny, Heather, Lionel, Karen, Olly

Next came the news that Adrian Spillett was also NA. Aidy usually plays Marimba 3 – possibly the most important and physically demanding “pattern” part in the piece. I was hugely relieved to hear that Sam Walton, who knows Music for 18, had volunteered to take on this role so that the new percussionist (Karen Hutt) could play opposite an experienced “Music for 18-er”.

Beaming up John Constable!

Imagine my surprise then when I learned that Tim Palmer, our cue-giving vibraphone player, would also not be with us. His wife had given birth earlier than expected, so there was no way that he could leave home. Dave Eliott was recommended by Tim and was a virtual unknown to Sinfonietta, and I have to say I don’t think he played a wrong note from the downbeat of the first rehearsal. More importantly, he plays in the band for Jersey Boys in the West End, which gives me another good excuse to go and see it – classic songs – love it!

Dave Eliott’s "Music for 18" debut

Suffice it to say that we had our work cut out in the 2.5 hours rehearsal in the venue the night before the concert. The sound crew had hardly any get-in time beforehand, so nearly half of this was a sound check. Still, we worked hard and kept smiling. We didn’t have time to get through the whole piece that evening, so some players were seeing sections of Music for 18 for the very first time on the day of the concert.

Micaela in action

To add to all the fun, we were staying in grotty student digs. The hotels in Cork were already full of fellow festival artists and there was no room at the proverbial inn. So we had cell-like rooms and communal bathrooms, and doors that were impossible to open or close quietly. The final straw came on the morning of the concert when we found that our “apartment” had no hot water, but still we battled on. Maintenance was called and full service was resumed after an interesting breakfast in the student shop.

4-star accommodation?

Still, all was well that ended well, and between us all, we managed to pull several rabbits out of several hats and deliver a good performance. Phew!”


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