What I’ve learned about choral concert tours

By islandjoe from Helsinki, Finland (On the plane to Lisbon  Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By islandjoe from Helsinki, Finland (On the plane to Lisbon Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I often can’t believe how lucky I am to sing with a choir that actually gets to travel. Over the past few years I’ve been to, well, mainly Germany, but also Paris, Helsinki and a lovely couple of weeks in Malaysia. Here are a few things I’ve learned from our recent whistle stop European jaunt:

1. Performing in a different city each night sounds glamorous, but really isn’t. Unless you happen to love getting up at 5.30am every morning, long coach journeys and airports. On the plus side, if you don’t get travel sick, there’s ample opportunities to catch up on lost sleep / read the latest bestseller as you cruise down a German motorway.

2. German coach drivers will load your luggage onto the coach for you. French coach drivers will not.

3. When they tell you you’re going to Paris, they usually forget to tell you that your hotel is more Paris adjacent than in the thick of it…

4. Aforementioned European hotels have no grasp of what it means to have a large choir staying. When the chorus manager tells you that you need extra bar staff at about 11pm, they aren’t kidding. Also, we will all be wanting breakfast at exactly the same time. Get your queuing shoes on…

5. Seating large choirs on small unpadded risers is a form of torture (take note Bonn Beethovenhalle).

6. Trying to stand up quietly, as a group, after sitting for an hour in a space that would fit a small toddler (see above) results in a collective geriatric-inspired suppressed groan (which fortunately probably can’t be heard over the orchestra).

7. Soloists can be highly amusing, particularly when boogieing backstage to Beethoven. Note: it is not considered professional for your shoulders to be shaking with laughter whilst you are on stage, so practice the art of calm exterior, dying with laughter on the inside (as commonly used by many in the teaching profession).

8. Tours are a great opportunity to talk to so many more people than you usually would – make the point of learning some new names. Or if you’ve been sitting near someone who’s name you’ve forgotten but it’s gone past the point where you can ask them without feeling like a twit, make sure you’re standing near them when they introduce themselves to someone else!

9. A celebrity spot whilst travelling brightens everyone’s day. And is useful for giving directions, as overheard from my choral colleagues: ‘Where are the toilets?’, ‘Down the corridor, turn left at Colin Firth.’

10. It doesn’t matter how whistle stop the tour is, or whether you know lots of people that are going – getting the chance to sing around the world is totally worth it.


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