Synergy represented by:

Amanda Morrison, Micaela Haslam, Andrew Busher, Gerard O’Beirne, Amy Haworth, Heather Cairncross

"Music for 18" in rehearsal

“We didn’t quite know what to expect of a venue called “Tinning Plant”, so we set off to our rehearsal feeling somewhat intrigued.  After a 15 minute bumpy ride from our hotel, we got to a very military looking gate flanked by what looked like two enormous fortresses.  Once the rather stern uniformed guard had decided to let us in, we drove off into what looked like a film set, or perhaps a paint-balling no man’s land.

Great film set for a thriller!

We now seemed to be in woodland, dotted with enormous, apparently deserted industrial buildings, with power lines and steaming pipes criss-crossing the narrow roads and grassy rail tracks.  On we drove through this wilderness, until we arrived at nothing in particular – just another huge factory, it seemed – but this was the venue.  It’s a real-life tinning plant, and here’s the tin to prove it.

...and here's some tin

Tinning factory

Something of a contrast to our last concert – a late-night Prom at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Glamorous artists' entrance

Public entrance

Dressing room - just kidding!

“Backstage” was a cordoned-off area of this vast building, which smelled rather like our coal grate the morning after a nice fire. There were two very large white tents inside, sectioned off into dressing rooms. We got to share a tent with Steve Reich and Jonny Greenwood – there are times when you know you’ve arrived!  The other tent was for the instrumentalists, and it also contained the “catering room” – a bit like Glastonbury, I guess, but with fewer tents.

Mandy on the big screen

The auditorium was vast, with about 3,000 seats, and there were cameramen on stage relaying pictures onto screens towards the back of the audience – Wembley meets Glastonbury!  There was also a screen at the back of the stage where all sorts of arty visual mixing was going on.

Me on screen taking picture of me on screen, rehearsing Daniel Variations....

Jonny Greenwood was playing Electric Counterpoint just before our performance of Music for 18 so we couldn’t get out to hear it, but we enjoyed what we heard during the rehearsal, and we knew that the place would be packed with Jonny on the bill – and sure enough…!

You can watch his performance on You Tube, of course! Here’s one of the links:

Jonny Greenwood in rehearsal

I was thrilled to discover that Tim Lines (clarinet) had been drafted in to play Music for 18.  Nina, who usually plays clarinet with Ensemble Modern, was busy doing another concert the same evening.  It was a lovely surprise, though of course we missed Nina, who is wonderful.  Tim was absolutely knackered at the rehearsal, as he’d had a gig the previous evening, then a long journey home, poorly baby twins during the night, a hideously early start, and finally a missed connection due to a delayed flight.  But still he smiled on through, played brilliantly and was as thoroughly lovely as ever.

Tim, Amy & Micaela

I’d like to say that I was deeply engrossed in the music for this photograph, but I think I was actually struggling with 12 down in The Week crossword.  Amy’s usually knitting at this point in the proceedings so I don’t feel too guilty.  We’ve performed this piece in concert more times than I care to remember and it’s a piece of cake to sing it from memory whilst reading.  Actually, I might try that piece of cake as well next time…

Rehearsing with Steve in cloud of dry ice

This was a long concert (a new piece by Mykietyn, Daniel Variations, Electric Counterpoint and Music for 18), but great fun, in true pop stadium style – hi-tech, funky lighting, dry ice, big screens – the whole works.  We loved it!”