Friday night’s post-gig antics in Brisbane for some led to bemusement on Saturday morning. I awoke to the unmistakeable dulcet tones of a tenor in the girls’ flat. Stumbling out of bed and into the next room, I discovered that in fact there had been no juicy tour romance: Said tenor had just been so merry he was unable to open his own door so had opened ours instead and curled up to sleep. He wasn’t the only one feeling a little worse for wear but there was work to do, so we all roused ourselves and made our way into town for our final rehearsals (albeit slightly later than planned and with more coffee than usual).
We needed to cover a few final things for the Brisbane Contemporary Church Music Festival services that we’d be singing the next day, and to get stuck into a really great new commission written for us for the festival concert by our talented friend Simon Joyner. Tricky music but undeniably worth it as it was a beautiful and clever piece based on the Song of Songs and inspired by Chagall’s paintings inspired by the same. There was something really lovely about working on music by one of our own contemporaries and we certainly felt a different kind of pressure to do it justice.
Late afternoon we headed ‘home’ before we were whisked off to, you guessed it, a BBQ! Graeme, the director of music at St Johns Cathedral and his wife Barbara put on a lovely relaxed evening for us, full of interesting discussions about the musical worlds we inhabit. Recommendations for our forthcoming days off were also ringing around the room; there’s so much to do in this vicinity and the locals clearly love the area in which they live. Completely shattered upon returning home, the girls found ourselves slightly embarrassed to be curled up and ready for bed at 8.30. To stop ourselves from actually sleeping we decided to have tea and some of the infamous Australian chocolate biscuits ‘Tim Tams.’ (The jury is still out on whether they are better, worse or the same as Penguin bars). I did some of the crochet project I had brought to pass the plane journeys, and it all ended up feeling a bit Malory Towers in our flat that evening!
Sunday brought our final day of ‘work’ for this tour. We were singing the morning service at the cathedral, (at what we considered the ungodly hour of half past nine) a lunchtime concert and an evensong. The concert was the premier of Simon Joyner’s piece, and we had so many wonderful comments about the work; it was a real highlight for both us to sing and the audience to hear it seems. Here’s to more new creations!
After the concert I decided to take myself off for a little wander around Brisbane. Australian cities seem to be hard to lose yourself in; every junction is a huge intersection of lanes and as a pedestrian you are really at the mercy of the traffic. So I headed for the botanic gardens and ended up walking for hours around the little path on the edge of the river. It was easy to believe that suddenly I wasn’t in a city at all. I strolled past the mangroves at the edge of the water, and saw people reading, meditating, and listening to music as they looked out over the boats on the water. Very calming.
To evensong and our final singing of the tour, followed by yet more food and wine. I was particularly moved by something said in the sermon that day which urged us to ‘waste’ time over our music making. In our society we are always striving to be efficient and do the most possible in the least time, but it was lovely to be reminded how valuable it can be to immerse oneself in a project, which is what we’ve been able to do on this tour. It’s been fantastic to work together without having to rush off, and to develop our ideas over a few weeks, reflecting on our ideas and trying new ones out with the space to let them evolve. Lucky us!
After evensong we celebrated in a great bar on the river, and concluded Brisbane was a very cool town, a decision helped along by the marshmallow piña coladas, lit-up skyline, and the excellent company of the local musos with whom I’m sure we’ll stay in touch.