Last week I performed in the Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to perform in many Theatres, Cathedrals and the occasional Nursing Home throughout my life, but performing in Bilbao sounded much more daunting to me somehow.
“Oi, you said last time when you talked about choir that reading music is a language of its own, so it’s fine right?” You all protest, wondering why I’m making a fuss about nothing.
Well, if you do musical theatre, or drama, or any kind of instrumental tooting, you know full well that a concert is not just about rocking up on the day and singing and then leaving.
The theatre is beautiful. People at home could compare it to the New Theatre in Cardiff, but it’s almost like a TARDIS when you walk around it. I made the mistake of leaving my phone upstairs after the rehearsal, and most definitely got my 10,000 steps climbing the five flights to retrieve it.
The rehearsals were intense, and there were a lot of them. We were collaborating with the children’s choir too, so actual full rehearsals were limited, so the pressure was on to make the most of the time we had. The composer wrote this piece specifically for us, so revised editions were made and the one time I missed choir they changed the ending completely.
The whole concept of the piece sounded a bit silly at first. It was written in Basque, so I have no clue to this day what I was actually singing, but what I do know is that at the beginning we shout “no” in Basque a lot and when our conductor wanted us to say it in a specific way it did give us the giggles. However, we learned that it was a song about sexual consent, and how no means no. This added a much more sombre meaning to the piece, and the constant clashing notes and interwoven melodies made it sound harrowing.
We also found out that a group of dancers were accompanying us. When we performed we were literally up in the gods of the theatre, facing the stage. It was quite distracting watching the dancers perform while we sang but it actually made the message of the song more powerful, and it was amazing to see both components work so seamlessly.
It may be time consuming, and it may be a challenge, but I wouldn’t really have it any other way.