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Being a judgemental angel – singing Mozart’s Requiem

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The last time I sang in a choir I was pregnant, and I stopped because the little fucker inside me star jumped at the high notes. He’s ten now, and although he might still star jump it’s not going to make a difference to me.

Mozart’s Requiem is the music I fall back on when I need it. It’s been with me on a walkman in shitty, cockroach infested hostels in Fiji, it’s nursed me through heartbreak and miserable times. For me, it’s uplifting and optimistic so when I saw the advert for Bristol Choral Society ‘Come and sing along’ I didn’t hesitate to get tickets.

Three of us turned up and waited half an hour for coffee that we didn’t have time to drink. John would have slept with one of the Colston Hall waitresses to get us served but there just wasn’t time. Good of him to say he would though, take that bullet for the team etc. We split into Tenor, Alto (my mum) and me, Soprano. I’d looked at the score on YouTube and thought I was more likely to hit the high Soprano notes than the low Alto notes. We collected scores and went our separate ways.

It was clear from the start that I was in the shit. Adverting it as suitable for “Singers of all ages and experience” was a little inaccurate. Loads of people had never read a score before and didn’t know where to find their parts. Loads of other people had sung it a lot in their own choirs. My voice had a range of about 4 notes and I was near some really squeaky Sopranos who were an octave above me and I kept trying to reach their heights. I thought I’d probably just have to sit it out and listen but I kept going and it did get better. Come the end I could hit the top B with conviction.


The conductor was perfect, just the right balance of entertaining, slightly snide, doubtful and encouraging. I realise that looks like criticism but it was just what we all needed. The morning went fast, with us singing (or attempting to) along to a piano. In the afternoon the orchestra arrived and a little later the soloists. Surprisingly it was starting to sound a little better.

We all trudged out at half 4 and were to come back at 6.20 for the performance – to a full house, sell out! Oh pants.

We performed in the audience section (which was dark and hot and rammed full of menopausal women, me included). The audience sat in the section the performers usually go in. There were 700 singers. Plenty enough to cover my silence in the tricky bits.

The performance itself sped past, we hadn’t sung it all the way through before so that was a little nervewracking. I think it was pretty tidy for what it was, which was enormous fun.

It’s two days afterwards now and my diaphram feels like I’ve run a long way, my throat is just about ok. I cannot get the music out of my head. I was expecting to be totally overwhelmed and sobbing my heart out all the way through but it was too much hard work to have time for that.

What a totally brilliant thing to do, I’d do it again but next time I’ll do some scales and learn how to read music again before hand.