The Colab scheme started at Trinity Laban in 2011, it was the year I was doing a 6 month flexible program of study. There was an overall consensus from students that this was ridiculous and no one wanted to take part, I was thankful my 6 months was up just before colab began… But fast forward 5 years and Colab has become a highlight of our year. A chance to spend a week learning new things, meeting new people and generally getting a new lease of life for the final push of the academic year.
This year I was down to sing in Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians accompanied by dancers from Laban. When I picked up the music and took a peek, I was certain I wouldn’t be able to follow the score… There was a bar with two quavers and then just repeats. Above, it said ‘repeat 10-28 times’ and I was all a panic. Thankfully, we started the week in the capable hands of Linda Hirst, who sings contemporary music all the time. She gave us tips on how to sing “doo-doo” quickly (“doo-guh-doo-guh”) and advised that we sing over the mic and keep it a finger length away. We also had lots of fun saying “popping” down the mic repeatedly.
I was so worried about leaving Teddy for colab but had his Nana and Nan down from Liverpool and his Dad took a couple of days off from work too. I was gone 4 hours at a time and Teddy lost a little bit of weight that week because he won’t take breast milk from a bottle but as he is eating solids now every one was able to keep him happy and I fed him before I left and when I got back.
The second day was spent putting all the sections together and going over any difficult bits. The most exciting part of the whole piece was that instead of having a conductor at the front moving the sections along, each change was prompted by a particular member of the ensemble. This was usually clarinet 1, Helen, who was directly in front of me which made it a little harder as her back was to me but at other times, the vibraphone player, Tom or pianists would prompt a change. It meant that we had to concentrate for the whole piece, always watching other people and looking out for a percussionist moving to another instrument before looking for the corresponding cue. Interestingly, I bet we all had our own things we looked out for.
It was very tiring in rehearsals and lots of notes were scribbled in my copy but by the end of day two, I really felt like it was coming together nicely…