This morning the cellists arrived from Belgium via Eurostar and met with their hosts from Trinity to begin rehearsal on the two new pieces by Eliot and Anandi, directed by the composers. I took the opportunity for some individual practice and time to brush up on my (non-existent) Portuguese! Luckily my Brazilian flatmate, also a singer, had helped me previously with a translation and pronunciation of Correa’s text. I refreshed my memory on this and wrote out some phonetics on my photocopy of the score. The rest could be improved over the course of the week hopefully with the help of our Portuguese cellist, Joan.
After warming up I then recorded short sections of the piece and listened to myself to decide on some clear technical aims for the week.
We then had our first Villa-Lobos rehearsal with 7 out of 8 cellists present. This initial meeting was useful for deciding where everyone should be physically placed/ tempi/ who should give upbeats – all a challenge in teamwork without a conductor and having only just met each other. Thibault led the rehearsal but it was clear that everyone was welcome to give their input.
It was refreshing to be working with instrumentalists when I am often surrounded by singers! Despite only having this aria to work on throughout the week I feel I’ll learn a lot from my new colleagues. I had wanted to add more repertoire e.g. Arvo Pärt’s amazing L'Abbé Agathon for soprano, four violas and four celli, originally commissioned for my teacher Patricia Rozario, but unfortunately the programme was already full.