Last Saturday, 58 members of The Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines headed south to Edinburgh to take part in their second audition for this year’s version of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. With thanks to Linda Allan.
Having had very positive feedback from some of the programme’s producers in the first audition in the autumn, the ladies were ready to brave the “fearsome 4” judges as well as a live audience in the magnificent Festival Hall.
The Chorus added some more polish to the ballad “At Last” and donned their “Black and Sparkle” ( some of the visitors to the Kinross Service Station car park will never be the same again!).
The day passed in the Festival Hall with photo and video shoots, interviews, warm ups, run-throughs, wee glimpses into the Hall at some of the other acts, lots of chat, and endless trips to the facilities to check apparel and make-up – all of this punctuated regularly by the most awful foghorn sound of the dreaded buzzer bursting through from the stage.
As the day wore on and the programme schedule slipped further and further behind, it became quite clear that this Chorus was not going to see the Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen again till well into the “wee sma’ oors” – about 3:30am for some of the ladies!! Never mind – more time to eat another snack, have another photo shoot on the staircase – and watch some performing dogs being interviewed and getting their costumes put on for their act.
There was time too to serenade the (very enthusiastic) public at audience change-over times with some Chorus songs. It has to be said that the BGT crew members and Festival Hall staff were extremely pleasant, helpful, positive and encouraging, despite what must have been an extremely stressful day for them too.
A visit from the very pleasant and charming Ant and Dec added to the excitement
Then – at last – the intrepid songsters were escorted down endless flights of stairs, along miles of corridors, past mounds of cables and whole forests of cameras and microphones till arriving behind the curtain of the big stage where acts, comments from the judges and the scary buzzer could clearly be heard.
There they stood in excitement for – ages – along with a flea circus, 4 lycra-clad Scottish pipers in rather dubious pink, blue, and green all-in-one skin tight costumes, a very nervous singer experimenting rather gingerly with a microphone, and some curiously clad individuals with strange accents and weird instruments.
A visit from the very pleasant and charming Ant and Dec added to the excitement, as in between various stages of their duties, they ran the gauntlet of the rows of waiting ladies “high-fiving” as they went! There was also to be more chat and filming with the duo just before going on stage, and later on some of the ladies of the chorus were able to pose with them for photos and autographs at the stage door.
So then – at last (again)- the culmination of the day – an entry on stage to a packed auditorium and the ‘fearsome 4’. There was some further filming, with some questions from the judges to the Director of the Chorus Gwen Topp and the Chorus President Debbie Pern, and then the ballad “At Last”.All judges acknowledged the technical expertise of the Chorus, and the polish and quality of the singing
So how did it go? The Chorus sang extremely well. One judge liked the Chorus, 2 judges liked the song “At Last”. One judge commented on the lovely involved faces. All judges acknowledged the technical expertise of the Chorus, and the polish and quality of the singing. In the end two voted for the Chorus to go through, and two voted against.
As with everything the Chorus undertakes there are valuable opportunities for learning.
Because the judge who had the casting vote in a tie-breaking situation had voted against the Chorus and had in fact used the buzzer, the Chorus will not be going through to the next stage. The genre of music, in which the Chorus excels, was unfortunately simply not to their liking. They simply did not get it!
How does the Chorus feel? As with everything the Chorus undertakes there are valuable opportunities for learning. The experience gained from the preparation for the event, the process of being involved in performing at such a big event and dealing with uncertain procedures and ever-changing timelines is very valuable for any performer, and plays an important part in developing performing skills. Listen, learn, and move on!
What now?? The Chorus will continue to work for the next important events in its calendar, including visits from international coaches and preparation for the annual competition in May in Birmingham.
Tribute must be paid to GwenTopp, Chorus Director and Debbie, Chorus President, for their work both in preparation for the event and also for their magnificent handling of interview questions at the various sections of the day.
Both succeeded in giving heart-felt, eloquent responses which went a long way to promoting not only the Aberdeen Chorus and The World Wide Organisation of Sweet Adelines, but also the value of singing in a group as great fun, a wonderful hobby, a promoter of well-being and a source of support and friendship to those who take part. This message has the potential of reaching many thousands of people, should the clips be televised.