Synergy represented by:


L-R:  Micaela Haslam, Andrew Busher (Sian Edwards - conductor),Gerard O'Beirne, Phillip Brown, Amanda Morrison

L-R: Micaela Haslam, Andrew Busher, (Sian Edwards – conductor),
Gerard O’Beirne, Phillip Brown, Amanda Morrison

“Mandy and I headed off to Berlin the night before the first rehearsal.  We can’t be doing with the Heathrow early starts – we’re much happier with a nice relaxing dinner, a chill-out evening and a leisurely morning.  As usual, the boys went for the early morning option, but then they’re used to getting up at the crack of dawn, having 9 children between them!  Our hotel was just down the road from the Konzerthaus in Berlin with plenty of swanky eateries nearby.  Mandy and I chose the least swanky (on financial grounds), but still had a really excellent steak and a fine glass of red wine.

I enjoyed a wander in the sunshine on our free morning.  Berlin is so smart and clean – at least in the area where we were staying.  It was a real pleasure to walk around.  At one point, I came across what was presumably a photo shoot for a bridal magazine or something.  I love the fact that this man just strolled along eating his sandwich as though a girl dressed like a meringue sitting in a doorway were the most normal thing in the world.


We hadn’t seen our friends at Ensemble Modern for quite a while so it was lovely to catch up with them at the rehearsal the following afternoon.  Our conductor for this concert was Sian Edwards and this was her first go at Three Tales.  It’s a deceptively difficult piece to conduct.  You’d think that a click track would make for an easy job, but not at all.

The sound track of the film is very loud, with many layers of rhythmic material and speech.  Added to that, you have 2 pianos, 4 percussionists, a string quartet and 5 singers to contend with.  Sometimes, it’s difficult to work out what’s live and what’s on the guide track – and it’s all too easy to “lose” the click in all the racket (wonderful racket though it is!).  Sian confessed that she was feeling somewhat daunted at the outset – understandable, being the “new girl” in front of a feisty bunch of musicians who have been playing/singing the piece for over 10 years – but she did brilliantly.  As I’ve said so many times, there is nothing better than working with musicians who are real team players, without big egos.  Sian definitely falls into that category, and I hope we’ll work with her again soon. She was delightful, well-prepared, technically proficient and great fun – my favourite combination.


Sian Edwards and the boys in action

The interior of the Konzerthaus is extraordinary – it felt a bit like being inside a giant wedding cake.  Looking at all the marble busts of the usual suspects – Bach, Beethoven, Schumann et al – around the room, I couldn’t help wondering whether, in a hundred years or so, those busts might be of Steve Reich, James MacMillan, John Adams, Louis Andriessen etc.  Who knows?


Konzerthaus interior


Berlin Konzerthaus
















We were only able to get into the main hall on the day of the concert, so Sian had one opportunity to go through the piece with the film running.  We were back up on our riser behind the string quartet and just in front of the percussion.  These two vibraphone players are my heroes of Three Tales.

David Haller & Boris Müller

In Part 3 (Dolly) the vibe parts are absolutely fiendish for pages and pages and pages.  It’s really thrilling (if quite loud!) to sit just in front of these guys.  I think we have the best seats in the house – even if we can’t see the film.

The performance was a triumph, worthy of celebration with several beers and some terrifyingly meaty German fare in a bar across the road.  More Ensemble Modern/Synergy Vocals gigs coming soon…”