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Sunday, 3 August 2014

"We're Going on an Adventure, Go-Gi-Gi-Ah"

My title comes from the completely awful but still widely-viewed brand-new children's programme, Baby Jake, which my best friend (my ever-so-awesome best friend) introduced me to a few days ago. She came across it whilst doing work experience at the Phoenix Special School near Peterborough. Now, why they are showing children with no language abilities and multiple learning and physical disabilities programmes with songs like "Yaki yaki yogi, do do dee, ba ba ba bee bee you see" on it is completely beyond me…but hey, if they like it, I suppose we just have to lump it.

But this post isn't about cute-but-creepy half-baby half-cartoon characters on TV, this post is about the adventure I'm embarking on this week.

I'm a member of the Hallé Youth Choir. We rehearse every Sunday during term-time, do various concerts (including BBC Proms, Elbow etc.) which require further weekday rehearsals, we busk in the cold at Christmas under the incandescent glow of the lights in the city centre (crikey, I make it sound really romantic. It kind of is, I guess, but it would be more romantic and magical and sweet if we weren't freezing cold), we sing great music, we get free stuff and have fun and have awesome rehearsals with our super-awesome choral director, Richard, affectionately referred to as The Force.

And every year, around August time, we go on tour.

We have a course beforehand, which is about 4-5 days long and consists of tutti rehearsals (all of the choir singing together), sectional rehearsals (sopranos, altos, tenors and basses rehearsing separately) with specialist tutors, breaks and workshops, which are basically really fun little sessions in small groups where we do various things that aren't what we usually do at HYC, such as conducting, chamber group singing, barbershop singing, opera and other things. The day always starts with an outdoors warm-up with normal exercises, crazy exercises and physical exercise (on my first tour, there was a big pond thing outside and we had to run two laps of that each morning) and the past three times we have done this as a combined effort with the Hallé Youth Choir and our partner orchestra, the Hallé Youth Orchestra, but this year they did their course separately to us :-(

Then the HYC and HYO part ways to do three concerts in various locations within our tour destination. I've been in the HYC for four years, meaning so far I have done 3 tours with the choir. The first was to Cornwall in 2011, where we all did course and tour together in Cornwall (just separate locations for concerts) and we were there for 9 days overall. The second was to Belgium in 2012; our course beforehand lasted 4 days and was a non-residential course in Manchester with the orchestra before HYC (us) went to Belgium for 5 days and HYO went to Prague. We also did Proms #37, which was Elgar's 'The Apostles'. Last year, we did a residential course with the HYO in Giggleswick, Yorkshire, for 5 days, and then HYC went to Scotland for 4 days while HYO went to Gateshead. Before tour, we stayed for 6 days in Birmingham preparing for the first night of the Proms which was televised and can still be found on YouTube if you look for Vaughan-Williams' 'A Sea Symphony'. After tour, we stayed for a few days in London preparing to do Wagner's 'Parsifal' at the Proms, and honestly, if you do nothing else in your life, please, please listen to the last 5 minutes of it. It is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.

So this year, starting tomorrow, we are doing a non-residential course in Manchester (my train is at 7:05am, eugh) before going away to Paris for 6 days!!!

Ok, so admittedly the first and the sixth days are travelling, seeing as we are doing the coach-ferry-coach journey to Paris. But we have three breathtaking venues, good accommodation, a trip up the Eiffel Tower, to the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre, other places, some good restaurants, lots of free time, and 10 beautiful hours at Disneyland Paris the night before we go home.

So yeah, I'm going to make the most of this.

I'm going to have a great few days.

Watch this space for Parisian updates!