Aussie adventures day 5 & 6

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photo-3Our first big ‘concert day’ arrived with alarming punctuality, and to relieve any pre-singing anxiety several amongst our number ventured to ‘The Gorge’, a wildlife sanctuary nestled in the Adelaide Hills. After a relaxing drive through some of the most beautiful scenery (courtesy of one of our hosts, Don Donlan), a welcome party consisting of two hungry ‘roos hopped to meet us. Marvelling at their soft coats, we rounded the next corner to find an entire field of marsupials dozing gently in the sun, amongst them several albinos. Don explained that the sanctuaries tend to take in a large proportion of albino animals as they are less likely to survive in the wild.

Passing through a series of enclosures containing many weird and wonderful creatures, including dingos, wombats, wallabies, emus, ostriches, various chimps and birds and a group of very creepy bats, we cast a fearful eye into the alligator habitat before arriving at our true destination: the koala-hugging-area. Our assigned cuddly koala was called Violet. With her endless supply of eucalyptus branches at hand she was remarkably unfazed at being passed from human to human, all part of the job!
Our smitten soprano and her furry friend
Our smitten soprano and her furry friend
On the way home, the group discussed which cuisine to opt for in the Central Market, eventually deciding on a trip to the Asian food hall. We feasted on soba noodle soup, sizzling plates of beef and chicken, and dumplings, resulting in some seriously large tummies which we optimistically attributed to our diaphragmatic breathing prowess.

photo-1-1The preparation for our evening concert went smoothly, as we had sung through much of the programme in a relaxed pre-dinner rehearsal around the Donlan’s dining room table the night before. Josquin, Clemens, Victoria et al. rang out vigorously in the sonorous context of St Peter’s, and the boys had just enough time to grab some calamari in the Cathedral pub before rejoining the girls for our first full-length concert of tour, which was very well received by our wonderfully welcoming audience. After a well-deserved pizza with friends and hosts, we finished the evening in a trendy Adelaide bar, raising a glass to a successful day of singing and animal therapy.

Saturday was our first rainy day in Australia, in an early morning display of pathetic fallacy. Before heading to our workshop with the choir of Adelaide Cathedral, we were treated to another virtuoso display of Chinese cooking in the very authentic Ding Hao, where a steady stream of roast duck, crispy beef and chicken dumplings accompanied by fresh tea tempted our receptive palates.
Our workshop began with a series of warmups followed by several games which aimed to increase awareness of ensemble and encourage a healthy vocal production. The choir then sang us some of the repertoire which they were preparing to perform at home or to take on tour, including Bruckner’s Locus Iste, and Stanford’s Beati Quorum Via. The breadth and quality of the choir’s sound was arresting, and left us asking: what can we work on?
Workshop leader Ben had a few ideas and exercises to help with diction and vowel production, and spent some time working on anglican psalm technique, with expert input from our New College veterans, Guy and Tom. After a couple of hours of hard work, both the Cathedral choir and Fieri had learnt much, and the fruits of director Leonie’s labours were doubly evident in the wonderful acoustic of the Cathedral.
The preparations for Jenny and Nicholas’ Grand Barbecue were in full sway as we arrived at the Wilson’s. Having offered my services to Nick, I was quickly assigned to the position of assistant barbecuer, and donned the mandatory Fortnum and Mason apron to perform the fire related man-duties of turning, seasoning, and worrying over whether the steak was going to be overcooked.
Luckily, most everything went to plan and despite the barbecue being invisible below a carpet of meat, nothing turned out inedibly raw or burnt. Full credit goes to Nicholas for his masterful control of the elements, but I like to think I played a small part in his success, although I definitely have much to learn. With a surabundance of delicious salads and some truly excellent wine, we spent the evening surrounded by our new friends, making merry and performing with various degrees of success some polyphonic standards from memory (the altos seem not to have sung If Ye Love Me enough times yet…)

2 Responses

  1. Dr PEC
    | Reply

    Brilliant account of a varied programme of culinary delights and excellent singing!

  2. Veronica Maguire
    | Reply

    Hi all, looks like you are having a fantastic time in Aussie land. Thoroughly enjoying the diary. Just wish we were there to hear you perform! Keep up the good work.

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