Yes, no, maybe? Which concerts make you smile and which do you suffer through?

I love a new schedule. And my choir’s schedule for next season has been long delayed owing to the departure of Andris Nelsons for Boston and the ongoing search for a new Musical Director so I was even more excited to see what was on it. And it’s a good one. Perhaps owing to the difficulties of creating concerts with no MD it has huge variety on it, including quite a number of pieces I’ve never sung. We generally have to commit to around 70% of the concerts, and this is where the fun comes in.

Now if you’re the sort of person that will sing anything anywhere, then it’s easy. Just tick yes in every column and you’re done. If, like me this year, your job does your deciding for you by scheduling overseas trips at the same time as concerts that that’s also easy, just sign up to everything you can do in order to meet your attendance requirements. However, assuming neither of these situations are the case, what about your personal preference? Everyone has their favourites, but what happens when, looming up on the horizon, is a piece you just know you can’t stand?

For example, I am currently happily avoiding Wagner’s Parsifal. It’s not so much that I dislike Wagner per se, I actually enjoyed both Lohengrin and The Flying Dutchman, it’s more the sheer amount of Wagner that happens in one of his operas. I’m more about the highlights. Plus, as a soprano, you spend way more time hanging around than actually singing, which is fine if you’ve got a good book to finish but less fine if you’re actually on stage. Apparently bringing your knitting to a concert is not acceptable (I don’t actually knit but there are plenty in my section who do, rather well in fact).

When it came to Andris’s last concerts with the CBSO I was really torn. As it turns out, my workplace decided for me, but I went backwards and forward over whether to take part. Why? The combination of a new Esenwalds piece and Mahler 3. And it wasn’t the Esenwalds putting me off. Rather controversially I’ve found, I loathe Mahler 3. All the sitting around puts me to sleep and then when we do sing, we have to remember whether we’re bimming or bamming…

As for our final concert of this season, our party piece Beethoven 9, that’s always an interesting one. On the one hand, we perform it so often it doesn’t need much rehearsal. Which is good, because rehearsing it is torture (for reference, there is such a thing as too many high notes). On the other hand, performing it is often fantastic, particularly with the CBSO. Plus this is at the Proms, which is really a special occasion and in this case the clincher. That’s got the tick in the box.

So what makes you sign up immediately and what will you avoid at all cost?

As for next year, my ticks look like they’ll mostly be in the yes column.


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