Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I love being on rooftops. I don't know if it's a symptom of my watching too much TV, or just a result of my spending part of my monday evenings on the roof in the break in the middle of orchestra practice, but I love it. Admittedly, I'm not fantastic with heights, although I've largely got over my fears as I have to climb after lizards all the time (plus going to Namaqualand requires extensive rock-hopping skills if you're going to have any fun at all).

So last night Duncan was singing in an Eistedfodd in the same building as where I had orchestra practice. We all went along to support him and it was lots of fun! I got there a bit early (Luke was bringing dinner but got stuck in traffic) and I went to listen to the JYO practising. They were terrible, although I can't really say that the standards have dropped too much because I listened to an old CD the other day and we were really not very good either back in the day... I also went through to the little practise room where I had lessons for the first 3 or 4 years of my viola 'career' and the room next door where I used to sit and pretend to do my homework while I waited for my lesson. My mom used to drop me off an hour or so early every week. It brought back a lot of memories, although the most vivid was of me almost passing out several times during my early lessons. Holding something that's quite heavy on your shoulder and standing for an hour can do that to you if you're not used to it! I also started on an instrument that was slightly too big for me, which didn't help. I was supposed to start on a 3/4 size violin with viola strings on it, but they gave me a full-sized violin instead.

After all that Luke arrived, and as we only had about 10 minutes before we had to go in to the Eistedfodd, I shoed him and Candice the roof. It's one of the best roofs ever! It's flat (which always helps) and has ladders and things between levels, and cool ramp things to climb on (or not). There are also raised sections with windows where you can watch the people inside the building and between the sections are cool little alleyways (where Luke was almost attacked by an exploding pigeon). When it was about 5 minutes before we had to be in the Eistedfodd we left, only to find that it had already started.

It turned out that the section before (high-school kiddies) had run over time and we weren't actually late, but we were convinced that we were, and so we snuck in (in full view of everyone because the door is right behind the performers) and settled down. It was in the room where we had Foundation Orchestra practice (when I was 10-14) and I got to reminisce a little bit in order to try and ignore the guy belting out "Cry me a River" - not the JT version, for the record. The kids weren't bad at all. There were a few problems, but they were all young, and from the Arts School, so I'm sure they'll be ironed out soon enough.

Then the adult section started. By then Candice, Luke and I had been joined by Duncan's sister and brother-in-law and it was quite entertaining to watch everyones faces as the first guy butchered an Aria and then tried to sing "All I Ask of You" with his daughter. I'd thought that he was bad, but she sounded like... there's no word for it! Every time she went for a high note (I say 'went for', not 'hit', because I don't think she hit any of the right notes...). Candice very kindly gave me her scarf to shove into my face to hide the giggles and I tried to focus on rolling it into a little ball and ignore the horrendous display, but it wasn't working so I threw it at Luke to distract him (he was pulling the "I'm not impressed" face which might or might not have been trying to stop the giggles). After that was a guy who walked off stage before the accompanist had stopped playing, and a potential dentist/orthodontist who hides dead bodies in his dustbin - he was actually pretty good!

Finally it was Duncan's turn and he was awesome! I've never liked opera music, I find it boring and the excessive vibrato annoys me (sure, it helps with sound production, but we have microphones now), but I found that Duncan's singing (besides being really erally good technically) held my attention completely. I actually felt that he understood what he was singing (and not just in the movements, you could hear it as well). by the end of the song everyone was paying attention - even the weird adjudicator was tapping her feet! At the end of it people started clapping before the song was even over, and the applause was sincere, not like the polite clapping that was happening before. It was so awesome!

After all that (and a really appalling couple of schoolkids trying to sound like Mariah Carey which I will not try to describe becasue the words don't even exist) everyone else ehaded for Eastgate for a celebratory cup of coffee, while Luke and I grabbed pizza frmo his car and, with David and Athena in tow, went and had dinner on the roof. It was freezing, but lots of fun. I love rooftops! From there I followed Luke to Eastgate and we had coffee with everyone and then he showed em a fantastic route back to the highway. I go to Eastgate regularly and never know how to get home afterwards, except for a very long way around.

So that was my evening, and it was awesome! And congratualtions to Duncan for a fantastic performance and for winning the highest award available!