Sunday, 4 August 2013

Singing in Slovenia

Temperatures in Ljubljana, Slovenia, are reaching 40 C but the city is a very relaxed place and has proved, so far, to be a delightful location for a concert. London Concord Singers sang their first performance last night (3 August 2013), a concert at the city's Franciscan Church, a glorious pink 17th century edifice at the centre of the city not far from the famous triple bridge. We had arrived two days previously and spent the time exploring this charming and hospitable capital city. But 4.30pm on Saturday was the start of our rehearsal, and as we assembled in the elaborate baroque interior we had to all get back into a properly disciplined state of mind. 90 minutes later we were all moderately satisfied and rather pleased with the attractively warm acoustics at the church.
Waiting for the concert to happen:
The author and other members of London Concord Singers
on the steps of the Franciscan Church, Ljublana, Slovenia
Temperatures in Ljubljana, Slovenia, are reaching 40 C but the city is a very relaxed place and has proved, so far, to be a delightful location for a concert. London Concord Singers sang their first performance last night (3 August 2013), a concert at the city's Franciscan Church, a glorious pink 17th century edifice at the centre of the city not far from the famous triple bridge. We had arrived two days previously and spent the time exploring this charming and hospitable capital city. But 4.30pm on Saturday was the start of our rehearsal, and as we assembled in the elaborate baroque interior we had to all get back into a properly disciplined state of mind. 90 minutes later we were all moderately satisfied and rather pleased with the attractively warm acoustics at the church.



We returned at 7.30pm only to find that the church service was still going on. Mass was being conducted in Slovenian but it seemed as if there was around 25 minutes more to run. As we waited on the church steps, we watched the bar across the square gradually assemble the kit for a rock band (amplified) to play outside, stringing cables through the trees to the nearest available power sources. It was apparent that we would have competition.

Mass finished and quite a number of the congregation stayed, to be joined by tourists plus friends of our Slovenian hosts, all adding up to make a gratifyingly substantial audience in the large church. As I normally do spoken introductions to our concerts, we had arranged for me to give a short introduction and have this translated into Slovenian by one of our hosts, something that seemed to work extremely well.

Despite the temperatures outside, the church was surprisingly pleasant to sing in and the concert was very well received. We performed mainly a mixture of English and American music with the main works being Aaron Copland's In the Beginning and Byrd's Mass for Five Voices, along with the local premiere of Bernard Hughes Two Choral Fanfares and motets by Stanford, Whitacre and Poulenc. It all seemed to go down well and we performed Stanford's Justorum Animae as an encore. Our competition was not too disturbing, though each time one of the audience came or went, there was a blast of rock music to disturb us. And of course, being a free concert, there was quite a bit of coming and going in the audience. Afterwards the parish entertained us with a glass of wine and local pastries, a charming end to the event. As I write this we are relaxing in our room, preparing for our second performance, an evening mass at the Cathedral.

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