Wednesday, March 14, 2012

They liked us! They really liked us!

After each concert, several of our choristers make it a priority to greet the audience at the lobby afterwards, and find out what their concert experience was like!  We end up having a number of illuminating and often rather amusing conversations with audience members along the way, especially when we're on tour.  Here are just a few of the memorable, funny and very lovely comments we've received over the past eight concerts in New Brunswick, Maine and Nova Scotia.  (I apologize in advance if I've misattributed any comments to a different city; I did a survey of the choristers near the end of the tour, so a few of our memories were a little fuzzy!)

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick

  • Dolores:  We received many comments regarding our stage presence, and that we were lovely to watch as well because "we looked as if we were having so much fun".  Another comment:  "Your outfits are the best ever!"
  • Catherine:  A woman, commenting on Catherine's egg shaker in the Cuban pieces:  "Are you the chicken shake?"  (Mark de Silva was also referred to as the "Egg Man".)  Also, "many choirs are very deadpan.  You're very engaging to watch."
  • My Conversations:  As a few of us were attempting to exit the lobby, we realized we couldn't get back through to the stage door through the front (they did open the doors up for us afterwards).  An audience member remarked gleefully, "Well, you'll just have to stay here, then!".

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick

  • Steven:  We just got a card in the mail from the Imperial Theatre in Saint John, NB. They sent us photocopies of the pages in their guest book. Here are some of the comments:
“The sounds of heaven!”
“Incredible voices!”
“Magnificently perfect and so entertaining.”
“Beautiful and so like instruments, their voices were amazing. All music I have not heard before. Fabulous. Looking forward to the second half.”
“Good stuff.”
“First time hearing a choir: floored.”
“This performance was absolutely scrumtrulescent [sic].”
“Lovely! Very enjoyable! Great tone and blend.”
“Wonderful to hear such a great sound live!”
“So honored to have sung with the choir tonight.”
And the best one of all:
“If this is what the angels sound like, then heaven may just be the place to go…”
  • Kathleen:  A gentleman remembered seeing several of us in the hotel fitness centre and remarked, "oh, I almost didn't recognize you with your costumes on!"
  • My Conversations:  I actually mainly remember Janet Kidd's face as her choir, Cambiata, was rehearsing the Bach Komm, Jesu, Komm with us.  Janet's a VCC alumni from several years back.  There was this look of serene pride on her face, but underneath you could tell she was bubbling with excitement - her past and present worlds were drifting together in a really neat way.

  • Bill:  A woman commented on Bill's Leo the Lion solo in R. Murray Schafer's Medieval Bestiary set:  "The girl you kept pushing out of the way (which would have been either Fabiana or myself) looked pretty ticked off with you for the rest of that song!!"
  • Marla:  An audience member mentioned how unfortunate it was that red tape between the Canadian and American borders frequently tended to keep more Canadian choirs from coming down to the States to perform - she thought it was so important the the two countries shared their art with each other, as in the VCC concert.
  • Lucy:  A gentleman, innocently commenting on some of the more salacious text in the Medieval Bestiary:  "What does it mean when when you sing, "lions copulate the backward way?"  His wife: "I'll explain it to you tonight, dear."  (HAHAHA!!)
  • Kathleen:  A gentleman attended the concert who had been a public radio show host in Alabama several years back - he regularly ordered Vancouver Chamber Choir records from the CBC archives (there was no other way for Americans to get them at the time!) and played them frequently on his show.  When he moved to Maine, he continued to play our records.  This was the first time he'd heard us live on stage.
  • My Conversations:  A lady who had been sitting in the front row with an animated expression the entire time:  "A lot of other groups I've seen sound fine but have the personality of a toothpick.  You guys don't have toothpick personalities!  You're FUN!"  Also, a gentleman at intermission:  "Please tell the entire choir that your performance of The Lamb was so exquisite.  I have a Cambridge Singers recording of the piece and it's beautiful, but your rendition brought tears to my eyes.  It's something I'll never forget."

  • Violet:  Some comments sent from the presenters in Portland:
 All of the reports have been are a couple:
“...THANK YOU. This was so important and worth it…”
“I TOLD you we should come. If it’s Portland Ovations it’s going to be good.”
From a board member (who is NOT easy to please): “I thought the V. Choir was awesome.”
Before the concert, the pre-performance lecturer (a choral director, Robert Russell) made these remarks:
“I’ve been a fan of this amazing choir for 40 years. What a treat to finally have them here at the Merrill.” and “The program is quite delicious.”
From Facebook:
Wescustago Youth Chorale sincerely thanks Portland Ovations for encouraging a number of our singers and families to attend Sunday's performance by the Vancouver Chamber Choir. We had singers from 3rd grade to high school there, and to expose our singers to a choir of VCC's caliber was a treat. Their harmonies, stage presence, blend, and ability to sing various types of choral music were noticed, and we hope that it adds immensely to the music education which WYC is providing to our singers. It was a delightful afternoon concert!"
  • My Conversations:  We performed Brazinskas' The Inn as a rather rowdy encore in Portland, and I sing as part of a drunken ladies' trio ("I'm drinking brandy...") in the piece, so the vast majority of the comments I received were along the lines of "oh, you're the drunk one, right?" "How's your head?"  "You feeling okay now?" "I bet you choir folks know how to party!" ;)

  • Violet:  From Michael Steinitz, the presenter in Antigonish at St. Ninian's:
"Dear Violet and Jon,
     Thank you so much for a fantastic, memorable evening.  I have been receiving calls and thanks all morning.
We can't wait for your next visit!
All the very best,
michael and heidi"
(Michael, and many other concertgoers that evening, kept mentioning how they'd be seeing us again in three years.  Hurrah!)
  • My Conversations:  A woman I spoke to was teasing the ladies and I for not wearing long sleeves in the chilly cathedral:  "It's winter, you do know!  I have a jacket on and I'm still cold!  You make me feel chilly just looking at you!!" (She did love the outfits, however.)  Also, when telling another couple that VCC choristers always talk about St. Ninian's as the pinnacle of amazing concert acoustics:  "Well, of course."

WOLFVILLE, Nova Scotia
  • My Conversations:  I had the utmost pleasure of speaking to four young ladies from the local youth honour choir, who literally had stars in their eyes when speaking about what they'd just heard!  I asked them about their involvement in choral music; they then peppered me with questions about how make it into "professional chorister" ranks, how our tour had been going, how we went about learning the languages we sing in (their suggestion for program notes for Dona Nobis Pacem:  include the names of all 40 languages we speak "Peace" in throughout the song), how we keep ourselves vocally healthy, etc.  It reminded me of when I was a teen and would have given anything to speak to a real live professional choral singer!  :D

LUNENBURG, Nova Scotia
  • Paul:  A lady, originally from Vancouver (who had sung at Ryerson United and Christ Church Cathedral) and who has now retired in Lunenburg:  "Please tell Mr. Washburn that you have to record this concert."
  • Bill:  A lady with tears in her eyes:  "You don't know what you've given me."
  • Kathleen:  Through conversation, Kathleen found out that her and Barbara Butler, the presenter in Lunenburg, are related (distant cousins, actually) - they're both from the Earle clan in Fogo, Newfoundland!
  • Tommy:  A gentleman remarked that "he loved hearing men that had vocal chords from the tops of their heads down to their behinds."
  • Gordon:  A lady at the hotel the following day exclaimed surprisingly:  "It was actually entertaining!!  I didn't expect that from a choir!"
  • My Conversations:  One woman commenting on what she perceived as a very hectic tour schedule:  "You poor, poor dears!"  There were also a few comments about our Ola, o che bon eccho encore (I'm part of the "echo quartet").  One lady said to Jon she hadn't even seen the echo quartet exit offstage and said that "the standing ovation covered that up well, didn't it?".  Another lady, commenting on the inherent difficulty of the piece:  "My friends were saying what a lovely little encore it was.  And I was telling them what a B&%*# it probably was to sing!!!"  (HAHA!)

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia
  • Dolores:  One lady in the audience had come to every single one of the VCC's concerts since the choir's first tour in the Maritimes.  She thought, hands down, that this was the best concert programme by far she'd ever seen from the Choir.
  • Kathleen:  A few audience members remarked at how they enjoyed Jon, er, shaking his tail feathers in the Cuban pieces...
  • My Conversations:  Someone commented on the fact that this was our last stop on the tour:  "I suppose it's back to reality then, hey?" (Yes, yes it is!) ;)

And a few closing thoughts:
  • In every single city, people expressed that they wished the entire tour concert was recorded for posterity.
  • The hit of the tour:  Sir John Tavener's The Lamb, followed closely by Jon's multi-language arrangement of Dona Nobis Pacem.  Both songs received several requests to be recorded by the Choir. 
Thanks to everyone for your feedback.  As always, we loved performing for you!!



Post a Comment