Monday, 12 January 2015

Orange Jizz

THIS IS A GUEST BLOG...

Hello everyone in Pepys Motet Blogworld, this is Nathan, Ben's husband, and I've hacked into his blogspot account, unbeknownst to him, in order to bring you this evenings episode in the story.

The reason I'm the one writing this, is that poor Ben is currently lying on the living room floor, wrapped in blankets, fast asleep!  He's really not well, at all, poor devil, and seems to have succumbed to whatever nasty bug that I've been suffering/recovering from this week.  Some of you may have read about my plight here over the past few days, but if not, it's not been a great deal of fun.

Last Monday, just as we were coming to the end of the day in which we had recorded the brass players for the Brass soundtrack, I started to feel unwell, and by the time I got home, I was running a fever, sweating, and shivering.  It was a very unpleasant night, and by the morning, with sheets drenched, thing s got altogether a little more gastric!  Upshot was, I've spent most of the week recovering.  A couple of days off work, and couple of days not eating, and I was a wobbly wreck by the end of it all, but the silver lining was that I managed to get my tax return sorted while I was off work, which was a great pressure off my mind!

It seems that nearly everyone I know has been ill over the Christmas/New Year season, and I never know if that is because more people get stressed and run down over this period, and the fact that it's int he Winter, or that we hear about it, and think it matters more, because it's a time when everyone wants to be well and enjoy themselves, so it somehow seems worse, and therefore sticks in our minds more...  I don't know.  I muse on these things quite a lot of the time.  It's just the way my head works, and it keeps me amused, and while I'm amused, people around me don't have to be bothered with the nonsense that would otherwise be dribbling from my mouth without stopping, so it's probably a good thing that these ideas pop into my head!

Aaaaaaaanway...

Last night, Ben started to complain that he didn't feel too good, and from what he described, the alarm bells started to ring, and I recognised all too well a lot of the symptoms that I had experienced last week.

Ben was worried, as he has a busy few days coming up, with important things happening that he a) can't afford to miss, and b) can't rearrange, but we determined to just dig down, and find the strength to get through, whatever happened.

The first of those important things was another studio session today.  This time, not for the Brass soundtrack, but for Ben's composition, Oranges and Lemons, with the Rebel Chorus.

For those not in the know, it's a piece that Ben wrote about five years ago, and it has actually been recorded before, but Ben has long felt that the time had come to do a new version, and today was the day!

Most people reading this blog will know the old nursery rhyme, Oranges and Lemons.  What you may not know, is that there is a longer version of the rhyme, with reference to seventeen London churches.  Ben recorded every single bell in every single one of these churches, and a good few more besides, in order to create a track where all the bells could play together for the first time in their history.  It's marvellous stuff, and was a huge undertaking, sending poor Julian, the recording producer completely mad, as every single one of more than 4000 bells strikes had to be individually placed, manually, into the score in order to create the music.  Utter madness, but very Ben!

Some of the bells no longer had working mechanisms to make them sound, so Ben crawled around duty belfries with a rubber mallet, striking the bells by hand, and in some cases, being the first person to hear them make any noise since VE day.

So that's the history of the piece, which Ben may have already shared with you, so I won't dwell on it any more.

We used the original bell track for the recording today, but the voices were (nearly) all new.  One or two of the Rebel Chorus sang O&L last time round, but hardly any.

It was lovely to have the Rebel Chorus back together again.  Over the past few years, there has been a certain fluidity to the roll call, but it always manages to feel like the same group.  We've got to know each other really well, new friendships have been formed, and we all really enjoy singing together.  It was lovely to welcome back Emma, Andrew and Ben, who joined the choir for our wedding last year, and we had two new members as well, Rosie and Josh, who together with Emma are people that were in the company of Brass for the NYMT.  There's always a lot of crossover with Ben's projects.  We were once again under the masterful baton of Sam, who kept us all together, and did so with aplomb.  Good word, aplomb.  Always makes me think of something heavy dropping into a deep pool...

We were back at Livingston Studios today, and I have to say, the choir did an amazing job.  O&L is nowhere near as complex as the London Requiem, and certainly not a fraction as hard as the Pepys Motet, but there are some tricky corners, so we all had to be on our game, and focus really hard.  The day went really well - it was the first recording session I've been to in a while that didn't overrun, which must have pleased our engineer, Joseph, who has had a couple of late nights on our behalf, but he is a wonderful human being, who never seems to get grumpy, never complains, and was rewarded today with beers and an early night.  (It's all money in the bank, as he's doing our sessions with the Brass cast next weekend - watch this space...)

We had a lot of fun deciding on the exact pronunciation of certain words.  Should we, for example, sing, "O-ran-jez" or "O-ran-jiz"?  After much mirth, and childish knob gags, we decided upon the latter, based not he fact that that is how Ben's Gran would have said it.  She then became the guru for all other word-related question.  "What would Ben's Gran have said?" became an oft-asked refrain.

It was also a sad occasion.  Our dear, dear friends, Ian and Jem, who have lent their not inconsiderable vocal talents to many projects over the past four years, and been a very important presence in both of our lives since I first met Ian when we did a production of Just So, at the Tabard Theatre in Chiswick, are leaving our shores in a couple of months, to embark on a new chapter of their lives in the US.  That means that O&L is the last recording they will be able to do with us as members of the Rebel Chorus, at least for now.  We toasted their future with a few sips of champagne after the session, and it felt very right to mark the occasion in such a way.  Abbie had made a fabulous lavender cake, which we all munched our way through in the pool room upstairs at the studio, causing much hilarity when she said it was her wedding cake - meaning that it was the same recipe as one of the layers in her wedding cake, but I thought it was her actual wedding cake, which a) would have been an odd thing to bring to a recording session, and b) was a few months ago, so would have been hard as brick!  It was baked fresh yesterday, s it turned, out, and was delicious.

Ben was fading fast but this point, and it was time to bring him home.  He'd done a wonderful job of hiding his discomfort, but the cracks were beginning to show.  As soon as we got in the car, the uncontrollable shivering started, and as we pulled away from the carpark, he burst into tears.  I asked him if he needed me to stop for a hug, but he just wanted to get home, as he was feeling so awful.  Then it all came tumbling out, and the tears were also because he was going to miss Jem and Ian so much.  I feel exactly the same way.  Bon voyage, gentlemen, but please don't be strangers.

So that brings us up to the current moment.

Ben is now snoring gently on the floor in front of me.  He asked for a bucket, which he has made full use of, which was fun, and now I shall, as kindly as I can, decant him from the living room into bed, where I hope he'll sleep as soundly as he needs to and wake up refreshed and ready to face a trip to Coventry in the morning.  I'll leave it to him to tell you what for tomorrow.

So with that, I'll bid you all a good night, and reassure you that normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment