Synergy Vocals represented by

From left to right: Michael Dore, Andrew Busher, Amanda Morrison, Rachel Weston, Heather Cairncross, Micaela Haslam, Gerard O’Beirne, Simon Grant

Left to right: Michael Dore, Andrew Busher, Amanda Morrison, Rachel Weston, Heather Cairncross, Micaela Haslam, Gerard O’Beirne, Simon Grant

“Our first rehearsal with the LSO at St Luke’s in London turned out to be our only rehearsal for this performance of Sinfonia. Daniel Harding (conductor) was new to the piece but you wouldn’t have known it. He and the orchestra were in excellent shape before we showed up to put them all off. We ran through the piece, covered a few tricky corners, and that was that.

Most of the orchestra headed off to do another concert in Leipzig, then we all met up 2 days later in Berlin. Synergy Vocals arrived the night before the concert in order to be available for an early sound check at the Philharmonie, so we had a bonus free evening in Berlin. The view from our hotel windows wasn’t quite what we had in mind..

View from hotel window

..and we tried not to think about what the following morning had in store for us as we headed out for a nice Italian meal just round the corner from our hotel.

Well, you couldn’t make it up! The crashing and banging started at around 7am so there was no need for early alarm calls. And there was no point trying to make up for it with an afternoon nap as, by this stage, the whole place looked as though it was mid-earthquake with huge clouds of masonry dust enveloping our hotel. Nice!

In the run up to the concert week, I’d discussed both with the LSO and the Philharmonie the importance of the Sinfonia sound engineer, who can literally make or break a performance. It’s not just about controlling what the audience hears (which is obviously crucial), but also what the singers on stage hear. There are times when we are singing so quietly it is barely audible, and we don’t really need the on-stage monitors at all. The danger is that singers react to a loud foldback volume by singing quieter and quieter until they stall! Equally, when the orchestra is playing at full tilt, we need to be able to hear ourselves (and each other). So, the sound engineer needs to know the score and understand the requirements of both the piece and the performers. At our sound check, it soon became apparent that Simon at the Philharmonie knew exactly what he was doing. He picked out all the crucial moments of the piece and sorted out the different levels within just a few minutes. We were in safe hands.

As expected, the LSO played Sinfonia brilliantly in the concert, and Daniel poured his heart and soul into the performance. It’s easy to take the LSO for granted but it really is a world-class orchestra. As usual in this piece, I was hearing things I’d never heard before. The score is so dense, it’s a never-ending voyage of discovery for both listener and performer. I must mention the leader Roman Simovic’s short fiendish amplified solo – absolutely brilliant – and he made it sound easy, which clearly it isn’t!

Drinks and nibbles were laid on in the foyer after the concert – always nice. We chatted to players and members of the audience whilst waiting (somewhat ravenously) for the food. I mentioned to someone that the sound engineer (Simon) had been marvellous. You mean “Simon Stockhausen?”, came the reply. That’ll be why he knew what he was doing then! We never actually met him – he was just a voice from the sound desk. So, if you’re reading this, Simon – thank you so much on behalf of all the Sinfonia singers. Great job! Thanks too to the LSO, who managed to make us feel like old friends in the space of just one rehearsal. We look forward very much to our next concert with them in the Barbican on November 7th.”

Micaela

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