Synergy represented by

Amy Haworth, Jenny Bacon, Rachel Weston, Heather Cairncross


“We arrived in Salzburg ready for snow and ice, having checked out the 5-day weather forecast which put temperatures around the zero to two degree mark. We’d even had a text on our departure day from our friendly weathergirl Ms Cairncross warning us it’d be freezing… As it turned out there was just one very brief snow shower, and the rest of the time the only snow to be seen was high up on the beautiful nearby Alps.

When checking in to our hotel we noticed there was a big church right next door. The following morning we had a big reminder of that big church and its big bells – at 6am, no less!

For the OENM this Festival was their first encounter with Reich’s Music for Eighteen Musicians. Happily they’d had a lot of guidance from Micaela who’d made a trip to Salzburg to work with them on the piece in February. This had given the ensemble an invaluable head start. On our first rehearsal day we were warmly greeted by the OENM and by Steve Reich who’d just flown in to catch the days of the Biennale Festival which were to focus on his work. Apparently, of the 200 performances of Reich pieces given each year, Steve makes it to between five and ten of them. He was to be at BOTH of ours this week – no pressure then, gals..

Salzburg Castle

We relaxed between our two rehearsal days with a trip by cable car up to Salzburg’s Castle, did the audio tour and had a leisurely lunch looking out over the town and pretty countryside. For me that evening wasn’t nearly as pleasant, as a snack I’d bought in town gave me food poisoning and I spent three hours getting to know my hotel bathroom far too well. But after a couple of magic pills from nurse Heather and a night’s sleep, all was OK. (Just as well – the next day I had 2 rehearsals and a performance!)

As usual, the bells of next door’s church woke us bright and early. After a final Music for 18 rehearsal for the four of us, Heather and I walked through the Mirabell Gardens to the pretty gold and white Mozarteum Grosser Saal for our Drumming rehearsal with Ictus. As wonderful as the acoustics of such a hall are for orchestral and chamber music, they’re hardly ideal for amplified Reich, and poor Alex (Ictus’ sound guy) buried his head in his hands as soon as the drums began. However, a few hours later a big audience soaked up the sound nicely. They obviously enjoyed the concert as well, keeping us fit as we all ran on and off stage several times to take a bow.

On Sunday morning the church bells went completely berserk, but that morning we didn’t mind (for once!) as we had to check out of the hotel and drag our wheelie cases down the walking street and along to the University hall for our 11am Music for 18 gig. As we were last on the programme and had a 3.10pm flight to make, we wondered how the timing would work out, especially as the set-up and sound check at interval took quite a while. But the piece flowed well and was a pretty solid ‘premiere’ performance for the OENM and a satisfying one for us. Steve jumped up on stage to make some thank-yous including one to ‘my good friends Synergy Vocals’, and after taking a final bow with the OENM we made a suitably Von-Trapp-style speedy exit towards a waiting taxi.

Amy (left) and Jenny

On the way to the airport we did the usual concert post mortem. Jenny had coped brilliantly with two small boys in the front row who’d started singing along with the piece (!), by giving them a gentle glance to let them know it was Music for EIGHTEEN Musicians. We’d all been aware of some chat going on in the audience at one point during the piece, but the offenders soon clammed up after receiving a pointed look from Amy and the lead clarinet player during some quiet bars! All in all though, we concluded, we’d done two good gigs and had another happy Synergy trip. A trip, I have to say, with bells on!”


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