On tour with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales - Part 2
Claire Whitson, Bass, prepares lunch
BBC National Orchestra of Wales viola player Laura Sinnerton explains what happens when Comic Relief and an England-Ireland rugby needle match impacted on the band's players on tour ...
Friday 18th March
Today we have the morning to ourselves as our cottage is so close to our next venue in Bangor. It’s lovely to be able to spend the morning relaxing over coffee, with the more energetic among us going for a run and preparing a nice lunch together before driving to the Prichard Jones Hall in Bangor.
This evening’s programme comprises of Gareth Glyn’s A Night at the Opera (a work that came to light during one of the composer workshops the orchestra holds), Sibelius’s perennially popular Violin Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony. Rehearsal is going swimmingly until trumpeter Andy Everton demands we all stop and take a fresh approach. He, along with Steve Barnard (usually timps, now reincarnated as Animal from the Muppets on kit ...), John Cooper (usually on clarinet, now all schmoozy on sax), Bill Graham-White (usually on double bass, now all powered up on electric bass) and Mike Frost (by day, sound technician, by night, jazz guitarist extraordinaire) HIJACK Sibelius’s Concerto and transform it into some sort of crazy jazz standard thing!
Long suffering BBC NOW transport managers Mark and Andy take a very brief and well-earned break
It turns out that this is not in fact mutiny in the ranks, but rather our contribution to Radio 3’s Comic Relief programmes. It was great to see some of our colleagues playing in such a different style (they do in fact have their own jazz band, droll-ly called NOT NOW) and a real reminder of how lucky we are to be surrounded by such talented players. Rehearsal then continued as normal (just when I was getting into the groove).
After a quick bite to eat, it’s time to get changed and warmed up. I love this programme - despite having played the Sibelius Concerto what feels like a hundred times this season, I genuinely never get tired of it. There’s one little bit in the second movement (Figure 3 if anyone is interested) that really does give me goose bumps every single time we play it. After the interval, it's on to Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony. Again, this work has a brilliant viola part and I find that it all passes really quickly. I love the coda at the end, there’s a passage in the horns that always makes me want to salute, it sounds so like an anthem of some sort! The audience (there’s always such a lovely audience in Bangor) look like they enjoyed it as much as I did and we quickly pack up and head back to our cottage for some supper before bed.
Lovely Emma and Mark in The Little Deli, official makers of nice things!)
Saturday 19th March
The following morning I take a little wander into town and (followed by Claire when she gets jealous of my purchases) eventually end up in The Little Deli which should complete every Llandudno visit. The owners, Mark and Emma Baravelli make the most beautiful chocolates and between the white chocolate and chilli truffle and the pot of chilli jam we receive from them, we head off to William Ashton Hall, Wrexham, much happier (and fuller) than we had anticipated!
Today’s rehearsal is, frankly, at a rather inconvenient time. Kickoff for Ireland’s final match of the Six Nations, against England, coincides directly with rehearsal. A number of my colleagues have worn their england tops - hopefully they won’t look so smug by the end of play. As we’re playing the same programme as last night, Christoph just tops and tails and we rebalance some things to fit the acoustics of the hall. We eat our packed dinners in the car, huddling around a radio that we fail to tune in to Five Live, thus missing the rugby entirely. However, my father messages me to tell me the glad tidings of our defeat of the English team. They may have won the tournament, but we absolutely trounced them!
Due to space limitations, Val, our harpist, is over on our side of the stage this evening. It’s really interesting when the geography of the orchestra is changed slightly and you hear little passages that you’ve never heard before in works that you thought you were quite familiar with. I must have been working hard because by the end of the concert I am famished and whine until Claire pulls into a McDonald’s Drive-Thru. One Big Mac meal, plus a strawberry milkshake, a McFlurry for Gwen and medium fries for Claire and we’re heading back to the cottage, where Arlene has been making an evening meal for us (yes, I do realise that is two meals in the space of about an hour, but playing makes me hungry).
Sunday 20th March
Our final concert of this short tour is in Llandudno itself at Venue Cymru. It is an afternoon concert and a return to the all French programme we performed in Aberystwyth.
There is a good audience and we violas really get into our melody in Roman Carnival. I’m sure our soloist, Jack, is delighted when he plays the final chords of the Saint-Saëns - between two performances of the Chausson and Saint-Saëns and two of the Sibelius Concerto, I believe he has had rather a lot of notes to get through in the last four days! I enjoy the last play of the Franck and the audience is very generous in their appreciation of us. We load up the car one final time and we are off! For the next few hours we battle through traffic jams, road works, diversions and wrong turns before arriving home, the North Wales tour over for another little while!
Claire and Arlene, delighted with our parking space, right at the the steps of the hall’s entrance!