Building with vines
Posted by Fiona Goodhew
Wednesday 7th January, 2015

Music really is all around us…

It is another relentlessly hot morning. The adrenaline rush that got us through the first few busy days has worn off – evident at our chatter-free breakfast. We are bleary-eyed from a late (albeit inspiring) night. It is quite a distance from our accommodation to the Elder Conservatorium. Rather than the scenic walk over the river, a majority of participants opt to wait for the AYO minibus.

As we wait for a musician to run back and fetch her music stand from her room, the bus driver turns up the radio. The repeated lyrics ‘I’m an al-ba-trouse’ (rhymes with house) strongly indicates that this song is so titled.

One of the violinists sitting behind me says to his friend, ‘Yikes, I haven’t listened to the radio in years’. She responds with, ‘I wonder how long they took to write this song?’ Another pipes in from the back row, ‘Why did they use “albatrouse”? Could they not rhyme anything with albatross?’ I have not heard this song before and I wonder how I have missed such a masterpiece. As if the announcer were psychic, the radio said that this artist had over one million twitter fans and had developed her own hash tag and in five days had over 15 000 hits. Amazingly, I still haven’t heard of her.

The next landmark of the day: lunch. Groups huddle around the available chairs and recount the morning’s progress in rehearsals and tutorials. We have the opportunity to hear some modern music – very modern – a Jingle Bells interpretation performed on none other than the cupboard door. Competition in the play-your-mouth-tuner-like-a-harmonica is fierce. Round two sees a blue-grass style tune versus a more Steve Reich-inspired number.

The shenanigans continue through ‘free time’ in the afternoon. Impromptu football kicks aside, most are making the best of this opportunity: the composition students are composing madly (and discussing possible radio feature interview times with the WAMers), dedicated musicians are appreciating some extra time to go over particularly hard passages, and the AAs are still smiling whilst moving loads of equipment between venues.

Dinner! Birdcall sounds are exchanged between the far ends of the college’s large dining room. Perhaps natural sounds inspired by the lush grapevines at our accommodation? At the dessert table someone is ‘singing’ (and acting through interpretive dance) the Dies irae passage from Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. Perhaps it is the tuba player preparing himself for the big moment on Saturday? It is accompanied with dramatic shrugged shoulders emphasizing each note. We move to the drink queue where keen musicians hone their listening skills putting cups to their ears, exclaiming ‘it really is the ocean’. Rehearsal after dinner. It is time to catch the minibus once more.

– Fiona Goodhew

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