As we pick up rehearsals again after our summer break, our new Musical Director Michael shares his a-ca-vision for the year.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. As a teacher for the past nine years*, and a university student and school pupil for the 16 immediately before that, September is engrained as the time of new beginnings. Although In the Smoke now only contains two teachers, the group has just started back from a summer break, and there are lots of exciting plans afoot.
Arrangers have come back with a couple of new songs each that they’re desperate to hear the group do, and ideas for dozens more that they probably won’t find time to write until next summer. New committee posts have already begun discussing exciting gig ideas and new forays into video and recording. And those in the group whose only responsibility is to show up and sing beautifully have been giving their voices some valuable beach and beer garden-based R&R.
As MD for this year (taking the reins back from a cappella veteran and mad – but in a very polite way – scientist Edward Brightman), I’m most looking forward to:
– Heading out to Bristol to perform, rehearse, and of course party with the formidable Original Sing (Voice Festival Community Champions 2013) – Developing our third a-ca-panto for a gig in November/December, having missed out on doing a Christmas gig last year – Experimenting with recording techniques that we haven’t utilised before – Making a bunch of music videos – Getting out and performing as much as possible, hopefully in collaboration with some Alzheimer’s Society projects we’ve had our eye on for a while – Bringing a few experimental arrangements to rehearsals that frighten, intrigue, and then eventually endear themselves to the rest of the group… *evil laugh*
We’ll be seeing ya,
*Cheeky plug: I’m actually not a teacher anymore – solo album out within a month – keep checking www.mdhmusic.com…
We’re pleased to announce that we’re returning to the Greenwood Theatre in London Bridge this summer, and tickets are ON SALE NOW!
With the possible exception of some Independence Day ‘humour’*, this is a no-gimmicks, straight-up, best-of evening of great a cappella. Expect some old favourites, recent favourites, not yet favourites (aka world premieres) and a Disney Medley. Oh yes.
Friday 4 July 2014, 8-10pm (bar open from 7.30pm and during the interval) Greenwood Theatre, 55 Weston St, London SE1 3RA
Tickets £10 (£5 concession or FREE for under-16s and school pupils)
It’s always fun when your brief is a lot more vague than those of your brothers and sisters. Oh well, here goes nothing. Adopting a gestalt approach, the bits that seemed to stand out for people were:
1. the presence of Tyler
2. the absence of sunshine
3. a kind of thick wettish mist rising through our Pyrenean forest home
4. books everywhere (although maybe that was just me)
5. a screaming goat
So you might suggest a short story: A lonely tiler, laid off, tramps through a kind of thick wettish mist. Bored, he happens upon a pile of unread books, sits, cross-legged on the ground, and begins to read. Through the dark moisture, he hears the rich golden tones of Bill Withers, “…ain’t no sunshine, when she’s..”. Suddenly a goat screams, as if outraged.
ITS tradition during weekends recording or rehearsing is to intersperse intensive practice with equally intensive eating. In the early days, teams organising breakfast, lunch and dinner would make so much effort (and so much food) that we needed naps to recover which was not good for rehearsal efficiency! We have learned to eat lighter breakfasts and lunches to concentrate on our music (and minimise weight gain).
One of the many desirable attributes the boys of In the Smoke boast is their cookery skills. Without exception, all ITS menfolk (past and present) have been enthusiastic co-ordinators of communal cookery during our various weekends away.* Whether you fancy a fiery curry, creamy chowder, a full Sunday roast with all the trimmings or enough guacamole to wash your face in, the gentlemen (and let’s face it they really are) will provide.**
Ladies of the world, take a tip from we Smokettes: choose your man (or men) carefully and you may enjoy the payback your grandma earned. We sit back, look pretty, drink wine, sing when required and let the lads look after us. Because we’re worth it!
* Interested ladies: unfortunately (but probably unsurprisingly) none of these highly eligible men are currently available for dates. Should this change we probably won’t let you know – we know when we’re onto a good thing.
** Prospective new male members, please be aware that a ‘signature dish’ should be provided at any audition for our consideration.