Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Zealand, My Homeland -- ANZAC rehearsal

ANZAC Day is tomorrow, and yesterday we rehearsed for the ANZAC concert at the Fountain Theatre in Dannevirke.

ANZAC Day is a public holiday in New Zealand, a day set aside to commemorate the New Zealand and Australian soldiers who died during the Gallipoli landings in Turkey in 1915 during the First World War. See and for further details.

Every New Zealand city and country village has a cenotaph inscribed with the names of the fallen from their community, and on ANZAC Day those names, and the names of soldiers from subsequent wars, are honoured by a public parade and wreath-laying ceremony at the cenotaph. New Zealand’s defense forces are kept busy providing uniformed personnel for fly-overs and as escorts, guards, and guest speakers.

In recent years, the Dawn Service (5:15am) and 9am Parade and Wreath-Laying Ceremony, traditionally attended by representatives of community clubs, associations, and schools, have become extremely popular for families and young people to attend. Rather than letting it fade into oblivion, the public have declared it is fashionable to remember the past. As an old soldier said, "A new generation are taking an interest in the battles that helped shape New Zealand's sense of nationhood." Long may we remember, for he who refuses to study the past is condemned to relive it.

The motto of the day is “Lest We Forget”, and the emblem is the red poppy. For the week before April 25th, members of the Returned Servicemen’s Association are out on the streets selling this fabric lapel pin to raise funds for the RSA. The poppy is a reference to the famous poem by Canadian John McCrae titled “In Flanders Fields.” See for text of poem.

My contribution to helping people remember not to forget is two brackets of songs in the afternoon concert. After my success at the Irish concert six weeks ago, I was given carte blanche on my choice and length of program.

The result:

First Half:
For Anzac Day (by E.D.T.)
Finlandia (by Jean Sibelius)
The Last Farewell (by Randy Sparks)

Second Half:
New Zealand! My Homeland! (by Robert J. Pope)
Recessional, or Lest We Forget (by Rudyard Kipling and Reginald de Koven)

I will place the lyrics and program notes in the concert post.

The first bracket is very hard to sing because it’s in a low register and very broad, particularly “Finlandia”. I haven’t found the secret yet for ensuring “Finlandia” is turned on full (my warm-up takes 30 minutes already). The director was delighted with my first bracket, but I knew I could do a lot better.

I stumbled through the song introductions with retired Naval officer Bill Ingram. He was almost word perfect (so far he’s been unable to get his tongue around Jean Sibelius, and keeps referring to me as Nerrily), but as he said to me later, he gets to read it all, while I’m doing it by memory. I’d better have it right by sing time, though! The singing has been my focus, so the speaking part has gained far less attention than it deserved. At least I’ve got a reasonable grip on the tone (you’ll be glad to hear that, Sarah! And thanks so much for working on it with me!). We’re not using microphones but everyone could hear us perfectly, and I didn’t feel any strain from projecting.

The strain and stress of the past month and the voice problems of the last week culminated in a stunning presentation (incl. lyric memory loss at the start of the fourth verse, for which Wendy kindly paused and gave me a prompt) of the Kipling “Recessional”. As I was singing I sensed the rustle and murmur of the venue go totally still. I had them and I knew it. A powerful feeling.

When I took my bow, the awed applause was rounded off by voices acknowledging that for those three minutes I had held them in the palm of my hand. Director Dave Murdoch climbed the platform steps to tell me as much, and as the next performers crowded onto the stage and Dad called after me that I had forgotten to collect my mp3 recorder from the front of the stage, Alan Holmes said with wink in his voice, “What’s that, then? Were you miming?!”

It's strange, though. When I listen to the recording, I'm not sure why they were impressed. Perhaps that’s something to do with my listening apparatus being inside the head that’s making the noise.

Yes, Katrina, I love your shirt, but I’ve decided after studying these pictures that it really is too big for me. For on-stage events, sparkle is good, so I’ll just have to get myself another shirt for rehearsals. Once I earn some money, that is. =/ And concert gowns entering the New Creation list shall be subjected to the sparkle test.

Hey! The above phrase, which I’ve just capitalized, would be a good label for my designs, don't you think? Narelle Elizabeth Worboys and her aims for Boutique Narelle...

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...