Eni, when you said you wanted me to update more often, I'm fairly sure you didn't want daily rants. :P
Despite being knackered yesterday, I was actually looking forward to the first choir rehearsal of the year because we're doing Carl Orff's Carmina Burana in May. I had forgotten that we're also doing Bach's Mass in B Minor in April before then, unfortunately.
Being in a choir as large as CBC does mean that we get to do the works of great composers like Bach. I'm still holding out hope of one day doing either Mozart's or Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiems because I've never done either of them and the latter is amazing, despite the over-popularisation of the "Pie Jesu" by the likes of Charlotte Church... But anyway, yes. Being in a big choir is a great opportunity to do really famous works.
The Bach Mass is not easy nor small. We started off rehearsing the "easiest" bit, which was still bloody impossible to sightread. And then Adrian told us of his Amazing Plan.
The Mass is written mostly in five-part harmony with a couple of sections in eight-part. Normally we would just split this as the first and second ranges of each part. This time, however, Adrian wanted a more balanced sound, because the firsts always drown out the seconds. So he and the membership secretary went through the choir list, looked at our audition scores, and split us up so that the voices are more evenly distributed. Thankfully I'm still able to sit with Chris and there are some good, strong voices in our section.
We have been "relegated", for want of a better word, to Choir B or Choir 2 or whatever. Adrian assures us this does not matter and does not mean anything and is not a slant on anyone's ability. The downside? Being in Choir B means that I am now effectively singing second soprano.
I am a first soprano. As are most of our group, it would seem. The opposite effect has been achieved on the other side, with most of Choir A (i.e. the new "first soprani") being actually seconds. Aside from the obvious issue of range (I know a lot of seconds who can't hit the very high notes and are seconds for that frigging reason), it's caused no end of confusion right from the start. And yeah. Now I understand why the seconds are not as strong.
I am not used to following the second line of the music. I like following the top line. I can read the top line. The range of the second soprano part is so low as to almost constitute an alto part, and unfortunately there are not enough strong seconds to carry us along. Chris, for example, has done the piece before, but as a first, not a second. As for me personally, I haven't sung alto since I was 12, and I was only put there because I could hold a tune. I moved myself up into soprano after one concert because I wanted the pretty notes. I'm therefore not used to hearing another part singing higher than me, as it so rarely happens as a first.
Needless to say, our sightreading of the part we rehearsed was a complete disaster. And unfortunately, as I mentioned, the majority of the piece is in five part harmony, which equates to the three lower parts (bass, tenor, alto) and two soprano parts, meaning we're stuck as seconds for the entire season. This has resulted in a lot of disgruntled soprani; some of the firsts have taken being told to sing second as something of an insult, and I can understand why: being able to hit those top notes is an achievement like no other, and we do it because we like it, not just because we can.
I was so tired last night that this actually really upset me, which I think was also because I'd forgotten we were doing the Bach and was looking forward to plenty of lovely Carmina rehearsals, of which there are not going to be that many. (It suffers from Messiah syndrome, in that everyone's done it at least once and remembers it. I did it 15 years ago and still remember it, so that proves the point. :P)
The last time I was this frustrated by a piece was when we did the opera stuff a couple of years ago, because I couldn't wrap my brain and tongue around the Italian words. In the end, once I'd dug the melody out of the complicated diphthongs, I found the Verdi - indeed, the entire repertoire - exceptionally enjoyable. I keep reminding myself of that concert and that initial reaction, in the hope that the Bach will grow on me... but at the same time, now that I'm stuck singing a part I don't know, don't like and can't get to grips with, I'm worried I'll spend the next four months hating every minute of it.
I mean, this is supposed to be my HOBBY, a thing that I supposedly enjoy doing. It's not supposed to irk me this much; it's not supposed to steal all my free time and other commitments. Also, things seem to have become more 'elitist' since the new membership secretary took over, from what I can ascertain; I mentioned a few weeks ago about the solo auditions that never happened. The one good new initiative to emerge was the vocal training with Julian, but it's basically like "What goes on in the training room stays in the training room". We're trained in sets of five or six but none of what Julian observes actually has any bearing on our audition 'scores' or records. (And I'm pretty sure I'm due a re-audition soon. Presently my audition score is based on my crappy-ass first audition, so I dread to think what that ended up as.)
I dunno. I'll give it a few weeks and if I can't get along with it, I may well opt out of the concert and return for the Orff, if they'll let me. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who's thinking this, and it does seem like the 'balance' they were looking for has resulted in almost a total reversal of the soprano parts and a very confused body of voices.
It's especially annoying because there are a couple of old choir-type friends on Facebook who I'd like to invite to the open rehearsal next week, but I've already moaned about this in a status update and that would look a bit weird, to have complained about it in one breath and recommended it in another. Besides which, anyone who does turn up to the open rehearsal next week is not guaranteed to remain in their chosen part if they do pass their audition!
I am also annoyed that my 'cheaper option' for my latest glasses prescription actually isn't cheaper. SpecSavers are now charging a £39 "reglazing" fee (i.e. putting new lenses in old frames) on top of the cost of the lenses. Which makes their reduction on said lenses completely bloody pointless, as it still cost me £79 to do one pair. By the time I've done the second pair next month it'll have cost me just under £160 to reglaze my perfectly functional frames, which means it would have been cheaper to actually buy new frames. Said reglazing cost also doesn't guarantee against damage caused to the frames during the process, for which the customer is liable. I imagine this is to cover any frames brought in from other providers, but both my frames are the "Osiris" range, which are only sold at SpecSavers. Plus, you know, the glazers are presumably trained in their chosen profession, so WTF are they doing wrong if they manage to damage your frames?
Odd year syndrome, indeed. Maybe I should stop making plans now, before they get crushed by a boulder.