I joined the BYMT Adult Choir only last September so felt a little like a trespasser when I signed up to join this, our first tour as a choir to Neuwied, which has been twinned with Bromley for 25 years. I was really apprehensive that I’d be a bit of a spare part but everyone was in the same boat really and we all just put on our best smiley faces and mucked in to make this trip special and enjoyable for everyone. Evenings spent at the Marktbräu considerably lubricated any initial awkwardness.
Here are a few photos I took whilst out and about in Neuwied. Obviously there aren’t any here of the choir performing but these can be found by clicking on this link to the Living Neuwied website.
We sang with a project choir, who had all passed a rigorous audition that included sightsinging (I would have failed) and reading English text (I hope I would have passed that, at least.) Goodness knows what they must have thought of us, a group of unauditioned enthusiasts who nevertheless make a lovely sound. But we’d already performed the piece together in Beckenham and so we largely already polished.
It was interesting to compare the different music direction styles of our own beloved Choirmaster, Simon Sundermann, and Peter Uhl. Herr Uhl brought a different and valuable interpretation and approach to many of the choruses and came up with some vivid imagery that amused us and delighted the rest of the choir. He did seem to have something against the Sopranos, though. It’s understandable as we have many strong women with strong voices in our section and they can overpower the other parts so adjustments to the relative sound levels are necessary. We get this. However, divas (including, in fact, Frau Uhl) do not like to be told to sing at 30% capacity as if they were an irritant. Following three days of rehearsal without a single word of praise or support for the Sopranos, the conductor’s pre-performance team talk was a patronising public dressing down in front of members of the audience arriving for the concert. Completely unnecessary I felt. There are ways of saying things and our own Choirmaster is so good at getting his point across in a charming and lovely way. He’s German too, by the way so it’s not a question of cultural norms. EVeryone else seemed to think we were good.
Anyway, enough of that. There were some truly magical moments during the concert and the immediate and prolonged standing ovation from the German audience was something I’d never before encountered.
Thank you Neuwied and thanks also to everyone who made the trip so much fun.