Friday, 8 April 2016

Long days

It's been another long, gruelling yet inspiring day. We work twelve hour days with the NYMT, which sounds like a hell of a lot, and would be by professional standards, but it's a truly immersive way to work. My favourite session is often the one right at the end of the day. It's half the length of the others, and it's regularly the time when the magic happens because everyone is exhausted and lets their emotional guard down. We had a session tonight with the girls, which involved learning the last sequence in the show, before I got a few of them to sing their solos. There were lots of tears when Robyn sang Could've Been and Kitty sang Shone With The Sun. That particular song is such an old friend. I sometimes can't believe I wrote it almost twenty years ago as an entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. Paul Gambaccini, who was in charge of that sort of thing back in 1998, deemed it too "pastoral and classical" to do well in the contest, so that was that! The next time it came to light was in about 2005 when Sir Arnold Wesker, who wrote the lyrics, played the song on his Desert Island Discs. A few years later still, it was performed at a retrospective concert and I suddenly realised it was too special to languish in a bottom drawer. When the Brass commission arrived, I realised the song had finally found its home. It's actually the first song I'd ever re-purposed in this manner, but it fitted so well into Brass that I genuinely can't imagine the show without it.

Our choreographer Sam was in for the first extended period today and she worked on a couple of sequences, first with the girls, then with the guys. It's so wonderful to see a new discipline hitting the cast. We didn't do dance recalls on Brass because it's not really a dancey show, so I had no idea if any of them could move in any way. Some of them like Tom, Elliot, Ross and Corralie absolutely came alive. It was wonderful to watch.

We've worked split rooms all day. I deliberately wrote Brass to separate the girls from the boys so that we'd always be able to maximise the potential of rehearsals. The MD, for example could be running music sessions with the girls whilst the boys do book work, or choreography. It works really well from a practical perspective, but it does mean the guys and gals don't get to spend much time together, which they find a little upsetting, particularly when they're in boarding houses at least a mile apart. Socialising is, in my view, as important a part of these residential courses as anything else. Without the Northamptonshire music school courses to Grendon, I'm pretty sure many of my friendships wouldn't have developed as strongly as they have.

Anyway, this evening, after rehearsals, I decided to chaperone a group of male cast members to the girls' boarding house for half an hour. We had a lovely time drinking tea and eating Pringles in the communal common room. To tell you the truth, I had no idea I was breaking strict NYMT etiquette, so, quite rightly, got a stern ticking off, but I felt like a proper wazzock holding my mug of tea with Winnie The Pooh on it whilst the head of pastoral got angry!

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