Sunday, 27 April 2014

Behind the scenes of Horizons Sing - The View from the balcony!

Ellis Meredith-Owen is a tenor with the choir Acquire who appeared at the historic Horizons Sing concert earlier this month as well as contributing to the "Declaration 2014" album. This week he posted a great behind the scenes account of his recollections on the Facebook group Alarm30 The Fans The Stories...Ellis and the admins of the Facebook page have both given their permission for me to re-post it here....many many thanks.

Photo Nigel Adams
Hello all! As promised here's a small post taking you behind the scenes of the making of Horizons Sing. Just a few anecdotes and things because I know you like that sort of thing. Before I go on, I'm just a random tenor and these thoughts and feelings are my own, not Acquire's.

-We knew about Horizons Sing about a week before the press release, keeping it a secret was very, VERY tough!

-Rehearsing for the concert was more like rehearsing for one of our regular concerts, that is, we had music to learn. That said, our music only has our part on it, so apart from timings(more on that later), we had no idea what the orchestra would sound like until the day...

-Not everyone in Acquire reads music (I'm still learning myself) but we NEVER perform with music in front of us, which gave us 3 weeks to memorise everything...

...Apart from "A New South Wales" which we got last, and only had a week and a half to learn.

-As Mike was touring, we were given rehearsal tracks...these were edited versions of the "Declaration 2014" masters with inserts where Mike would sing extra bits. The discrepancy in volume and the shock of the new bits made me leap out of my seat in the library when I first downloaded it! During our one rehearsal with Mike, I remember his face when he heard these rehearsal tracks and him singing on them, recorded in a hotel room on a phone whilst on tour. "Don't worry, I'm not going to sing like THAT!" - the answer by the no. Sorry, no sharing of those!

-On the music it had where we would come in and on which bar, these had to be pretty strict as the orchestration was built around this, Leslie and John Quirke were our bosses in this respect, so remember the first run through of "Blaze Of Glory"? I've heard some of you say that we had to redo it because you were louder? Nope, in fact we EXPECTED you to be loud, it's because on the music there, there's a break for John to bring us back in, but you were going faster and's like figuring out where to jump on a fast moving train when you were supposed to get on at the station! The second run through we nailed it, and then kept up with you!
-The two songs I know I was most worried about was "A New South Wales" and "The Stand"...The former probably is obvious...but the latter? I won't say why...but I think we did ok there ;)

-During our one and only rehearsal with Mike before the day itself, he kept adding bits in, making suggestions and hand claps and of course giving us "permission" to join in with the cards on WWYH.

-Speaking of the Cards, we were ordered by John to throw them up and/or backwards...I remember my heart being in my mouth when I saw some flutter in front of us down on to the percussion section of the orchestra. She loved it though...thankfully. A lot of choir members wrote messages on their cards, we had to pick them up afterwards and my brother in law Mark Ward is working on a collage. They were things like "Acquire 2014, Marching On" on an ace and things.
-We were told to expect the unexpected on the day, and so a couple of hours before the start if the show, we were asked if we could sing in "Tell Me", so what you hear in the performance is what we'd memorised with very little rehearsal.

-Arriving in Cardiff in the afternoon, sitting down and hearing the strings start up for "The Stand" for the first time is something I'll never ever forget. I did secretly hope the Orchestra would mess up more during the rehearsals so we could hear more of them but they were amazing!

-One of my most memorable moments is just after the rehearsal/run through when we were given permission to sing our own songs in Hoddinott Hall, there were only a few technicians around as Huw Ellis-Williams, our Deputy MD sat at the massive Steinway piano, Leslie took the podium and we sang the first ever song that we had learned in Acquire with a couple of others. I ended the three songs as an emotional wreck as the enormity of what we had just done hit me...only to leave the room and bump into Leslie and John Quirke as I was in floods of tears, I wanted to have a chat with John, but had to excuse myself to get my head together.

-The BBC Orchestra and the crew were amazing and like everyone from MPO, they had made us feel completely at home, After the show I felt I need to see the front of the magnificent building to let it sink in, by complete coincidence, I bumped into my Mum, Sister and some of The Alarm fans from this very page. I missed out on seeing Mike, John, Smiley and Jules who had come to the choir's green room to say hello and thank us though. Next time Nigel and Roy, I'll have to join you in the pub ;)

-Getting on the coach was bitter sweet but our hearts were soaring as we drove past the front of the Millennium Centre...some members of Acquire seeing it for the first time..and we all sang "Blaze Of Glory" with our hands held high.

So there you little taster behind the scenes!

Ellis Meredith-Owen thank you very much!

Find out more about Acquire HERE
See behind the scenes pics of Horizons Sing HERE
Find out more about Alarm30 The Fans The Stories HERE

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