Following 18 months of uncertainty with COVID-19, the LPC is back in the swing of performing concerts once again. In September and December 2021, the Choir was thrilled to perform works by Tippett and James MacMillan with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This week we share the stage again for an old classic, Mozart’s Requiem. Alto, Amy Reddington, has recently joined the Choir and collated some top tips for keen singers looking to become a member.
Discovering your own London
When Covid restrictions began lifting in 2021, my world looked pretty different to where I left it in March 2020. Many of my friends had begun to move out of London, in search of space and a change of pace, moving on to a new phase of life. I, on the other hand, was itching to fall back in love with London; to soak up what I’d been missing and discover some new bits along the way. During lockdown, as for many of us, the realisation that I had been taking so much about London for granted did not so much dawn on me as smack me in the face. Over the years of living here restriction-free, I had not been making the most of things. Like live music! Non-essential travel! High risk group activities! Transmitting aerosols! That sort of thing.
Auditioning to join the London Philharmonic Choir was a slightly impulsive decision, and one I was really excited about. I had wanted to join a choir for a while, having always loved being in them when I was younger. Only just before the audition did it sink in that, actually, I hadn’t done any sight-reading nor sung in a ‘proper’ choir for, er… quite some time. These days I’m more comfortable behind a microphone, in front of a band, doing my best Whitney Houston or Madonna impression than I am getting to grips with 8-part counterpoint harmony. I felt the imposter syndrome on walking into the audition room quite keenly.
Thankfully, I needn’t have been nervous. It has been a really fun and rewarding first few months. Not only musically, but meeting so many interesting, talented people has been a joy which I’m privileged to experience. That’s all well and good but, as with most new hobbies, there have been some less-than-smooth bits along the way. All part of the fun, right? For other newbies, especially those with less classical choral experience like me, I hope this helps you or puts your mind at ease if you’re thinking of giving it a go. Thank me later!
Amy’s 10 tips
1. You don’t need to be a classical music expert. We sing pieces that lots of people know, yes, but you’re never the only person who hasn’t sung it (or even seen it) before. We also do new pieces where everyone’s a beginner.
2. Put a pencil in every bag you own so you don’t get caught short in rehearsal. Perish the thought that you may be left unable to draw in a hairpin!
3. The pencil is also crucial for amending crotchets at the end of phrases to quavers. You will be doing this a lot.
4. Talk to everybody and sit yourself next to different people. Everyone’s so interesting and wants you to settle in. It was clear from the start that there is a really strong community in LPC, and people genuinely love being here so I took that as a good sign.
5. Remember that if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at times, that’s normal. I was baffled by some passages of music in my first couple of rehearsals. I sat and listened for a bit, then I bashed it out with a piano app when I got home. The next rehearsal was much better. No one shouts at you for getting it wrong (although there may be some funny looks if you are singing with particular confidence. We’ve all been there).
6. On that note, for other tiny-flat-dwellers: download a piano app for your phone for note bashing (or try to befriend somebody with a real piano you can use… there must be an app for that?)!
7. Because of the need for COVID secure ventilation, the rehearsal room is freezing in winter. Layer up! Scarves can double up as blankets and hats do the Lord’s work.
8. There are pub trips most weeks after rehearsal. If you fancy making friends, have a scout about after rehearsal (you can reliably look to the tenors and basses) and you will easily find people heading that way.
9. You’ve made it through the rehearsals to your first concert – nice job. One of the most crucial tips I can share is that the Royal Festival Hall is huge and is a rabbit warren with multiple entrances. Get there early – like 15 minutes early. Make that 20 if you’re me and are easily confused.
10. No matter what you are wearing at the concert, remember your black socks/tights or buy something that hits the floor. No really, they mean it! Channel a scandalised Victorian and put those ankles away.
One more tip for good luck: get involved! This is very mum-sending-you-off-to-uni advice, but it’s really the best tip I have. Go to the pub and to socials, explore the Facebook group, and you’ll get out of it what you put in (which is loads).
We are always looking for new members to join the Choir. If you are interested in singing with us, please contact the Membership team to arrange a discovery rehearsal and audition.
Come and hear us
Saturday 19 February 2022
7.30 pm, Royal Festival Hall
Ádám Fischer conductor
Mariam Battistelli soprano
Helen Charlston mezzo-soprano
Ilker Arcayürek tenor
James Newby bass
London Philharmonic Orchestra
London Philharmonic Choir