Gig Report: We sang at the Royal Festival Hall. That is all.

After last week’s post from the stalls, here’s Charlie (Alto 2s) on what it was like performing at the epic Pipes V Mics.

The trouble with most mornings is that they’re in the morning. I confess I’m not a morning person, it takes a lot of caffeine to get me up to speed. So it was without gusto I left my flat at 7am last Sunday morning (please regard the time and then deduct an hour for daylight savings) for our first rehearsal at the Royal Festival with Shlomo, Reeps One and organist Tom Bell.

And what was it all for? Well, it was for this:
pipes vs mics
More specifically it was for a new piece composed by Shlomo for Pipes vs. Mics, the final performance at the Pull Out all the Stops Festival. This was The Pop Up Choir/Chaps Choir collaboration (both choirs are masterminded by Dom Stichbury) and we had 22 singers in total on the day.

The morning rehearsal was a whirlwind; bewildering, loud and slightly terrifying (have you ever sat directly in front of 7000+ pipes bellowing out a spectrum of sound? It’s ruddy loud and quite a lot like the soundtrack to many a classic horror film).

Our sound check consisted of the choir singing a single chord (because we hadn’t learnt any of the composition yet) and a fair bit of standing around taking photos. The rest of the morning rehearsal was spent learning the choir accompaniment and then trying to run the whole piece with Shlomo, Reeps One and Tom.

Next trick – to remember it all.

After a much needed disco kip, I returned to RFH for our evening rehearsal (6pm sharp) to see if we had actually remembered if all. We had yet to practice with the organ itself; that was going to happen live on stage, audience in place. At 7:20 we were ushered to our places at the side of the stage where we would sit to watch the rest of a rather surreal line-up featuring poets and new pieces composed for organ.

Our time finally came and went in a flash – I could hardly hear a thing, the organ was so epic, but I thought we’d just about pulled it off.

22 singers. 6 mics. 7000 pipes. 2 beat boxers. 1 organist.

The Radio 3 recording and video I’ve listened to both sounded awesome. A great achievement considering we learnt the piece that morning and it was our first time performing with the organ.

It was a fantastic experience and a real honour that Shlomo invited us to perform with him in such an iconic venue.

Love miso, love me slow, love me so. It was a Pop Up performance I will never forget.


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