Performing at the Proms – an emotional journey

This year we were lucky enough to be invited to perform in two Proms – singing MacMillan’s Requiem for Europe and Beethoven’s 9th with the National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, and then Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, along with Orfeo Catala. If you’ve ever wondered what’s it’s like to perform in one of the world’s greatest musical festivals, here is my emotional guide:

Joy See a trip to the Proms on your choir’s schedule
Secrecy Immediately assume the air of a glamorous spy entrusted with their nation’s secrets (schedules are set so far in advance that usually we know about concerts before they’re announced publicly)
Mild panic Check your holiday plans to see if they clash with the performance
Relief Realise you’re available/ re-arrange your schedule to accommodate the concert because that’s how you roll…
Pride Tell everyone you know (and a few people you don’t depending on your social media settings) that you’re going to be on the radio (and on tv if you’re lucky) – once the embargo has been lifted that is!
Excitement Receive the music for the concert – whether it be something new or an old friend
Puzzlement Usually applicable if you happen to be performing a new work/commission. This feeling will likely last some time (and definitely longer than the conductor preparing you for the concert would like)
Optimism By Jove, I think we’ve got it…
Hubris We’re nailing it
Boredom Any long coach journey to get to a rehearsal. Particularly when the coach breaks down…
Puzzlement part II It sounds different with the orchestra…
Satisfaction This time, we really do have it
Awe The size and splendour of the Royal Albert Hall (gets me every time)
Vanity Ooh look, tv cameras. How’s my hair?
Nervousness That’s a lot of people out there, and some of them are so dedicated they’re willing to stand through the whole concert
Exhilaration We’re off!
Breaking into a cold sweat Something hasn’t gone to plan (a rare occurrence!). This may or may not have happened to us this year… The important thing to remember is don’t panic, breathe and carry on with a smile on your face!
Pleasure We did it! Celebrate copiously with friends and family (and people you don’t know on social media)

The CBSO Chorus is getting a one week holiday, before returning to rehearse Haydn’s Creation for performance in September.

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