Far from the comfort zone
(Readers with no interest in singing, please consider this TL;DR).
Yesterday evening I crossed the floor.
Let me explain. This is a choir rehearsal. The choir in question is not a strong one, but has a new conductor who is doing a lot of good things to improve it, and whose reputation drew me to join. I recently enjoyed singing Rossini with them (as reported here last month), and the eventual standard of performance was a lot better than one would’ve expected from the rehearsals.
This choir’s next fixture is a concert in which only half is choral. The Fauré Requiem and his Pavane. The Requiem is something I’ve sung in many times – both First and Second Bass lines – and I really can’t face rehearsing it all over again with a choir that needs to note-bash and such boring things. So I crossed the floor, and am attempting to sing Second Tenor.
It’s something I’ve occasionally contemplated, and the Fauré is kind-of an ideal trial work: not too long, not too high, and the tenors have most of the best lines! I know I can do tenor in small doses, but I tend to suffer if I try and sustain it for more than a few minutes. So it is with trepidation and a great deal of uncertainty that I cross the floor.
And it’s not just the tessitura that’s a challenge. Reading the music is different: not so much the treble clef (any male singer needs to be .. um .. ambiclefstrous) but the different character of a tenor line. That’s a minor challenge, but one I’ll enjoy. And in one rehearsal so far, I don’t hear it around me: there’s scope to be the confident leader, which I managed in places.
Can I hack the tessitura? I came to a grinding halt on the last page of the Dies Irae section, but was otherwise OK. Time will tell how that plays out: on a day when I’m tired I’ll be useless, but when I’m on form I shall be working on technique to get through it and pace myself for the sustained high passage that defeated me.
Still Bass in my regular choir and other occasional and one-off activities. That’s the comfort zone.