Working With Talent // Bundeswettbewerb Gesang

Remember the hiatus this blog was on? During this time I was working at the finals of Bundeswettbewerb Gesang (German National Competition of Singing) and later that week I watched the winners rehearse for their big concert, organizing stuff around that. That way I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with and to watch so many talented people in musical theatre.

During the semi-finals and finals my job basically was to sit next to the stage, welcoming the participants, making sure they got their rehearsing time with their accompanists and pushing them onto the stage in time – in addition to remember their names and trying to make them feel as comfortable as it gets with a competition. And we also took care of the jury, in a way assisting them and … yes! making coffee. The first three days when the semi finals were held was tough – long hours of people running past us and yelling and shouting and singing and being excited, too many people and too many hours and seeing nothing exept for the off white coloured wall across from us.

But nevertheless it mostly was quite a joy to see young performers. Most of the times I’m sceptical about the performers in German musical theatre, but seeing them rehearse and talk about their songs made me rather optimistic that there will be smart, well educated performers in the future. (which, just as with actors, is a good thing in my opinion.)

During semi-finals everyone had to present a 10 minute programme chosen by the jury which they only learned about an hours prior to their performances. Everyone had to submit a 30 (junior section) to 45 (main section) minute repertoire and from that the songs were chosen. After getting into the finals they were given their songs usually a day or two prior to their performances, now about 15 minutes long.

I’m not allowed to write about what happened after the doors of the jury’s room were closed but I can say that I enjoyed watching them and listening to them discuss songs and performances. Katharine Mehrling who was the president of the jury is a singer and an actress I’ve seen on stage serveral times and I always loved her voice. While I was happy to see some ‘new faces’ as well, very nice people.

But let’s return to my favourite part. Last year when I first worked at Bundeswettbewerb Gesang I totally loved hanging out with the accompanists, they of course know a lot about music in a music-music kind of way. I know a lot about theatre and I can listen to music, but my analyses of music always sound like “that feels like…./that seems to be…./Do you know that crazy sh*t happening over there?” I especially found a great way with the two accompanists payed by the competition organizers for those of the participants who didn’t bring their own. One of them appearantly is an audition pianist for Stage Entertainment and the other one is just a pure joy to fool around with and to have fun with. I had very nice talks with them in between their duties about musical theatre and music and pianos and singing.

Right after the finals the jury met to discuss the prices and the winners and about two hours later they were announced – and again it was a joy to see the winners being happy about their achievements. As usual those who didn’t win a price were offered to come and get some oral feedback from some jury-members and during the open call in October and the semi-finals I organized that feedback session – but I have to say I was rather happy to not be forced to do that again, I had a feeling that they were much more devastated than those who dropped out after the semi-finals. Instead of that I had the much more pleasant task to take pictures of the winners for press announcements. Well….I don’t have to say that taking pictures of handsome people is much easier than many things you could imagine. After that I quickly edited them and send them to Bundeswettbewerb’s press agent – and than the craziness began. By that time most of us had worked 5 days, never less than 10 hours – and we went to clear out the temporary office we had built and started to copy sheet music for the musical director of the final concert three days later. My colleague and I were in that crazy state of mind when everything – I repeat EVERYTHING – suddenly gets funny. And we were not funny to work with anymore.🙂 Gladly we only had to glue sheet music together in a very special way (“I show you the way Adam wants it to be.”). In that mood we headed home to get some rest before the rehearsals for the concert began.

In my gap year between school and the beginning of my university studies I mostly worked in theatrical productions and even during my first year at university I did that and when my worked turned more towards the theoretical side I started to miss attending and watching rehearsals, to be in touch with these artistic decisions and everything. That weekend gave all that jazz back to me! I didn’t have that much to do, my job was mostly sit there and watch and be present in case something was needed to be done, I was reading sheet music and watched the musicians create band arrangements for the songs presented during the concert, I watched the concert being ‘directed’ (from my opinion it wasn’t much of a direction, but more of a kind of ‘stage managing’ the performance, but if they want to call it directing….they should) and the ensemble numbers being chereographed which was an entirely new thing for me to see although I danced a lot in my life I’ver never whitnessed a professional choreographer working. Over that weekend everyone got used to each other and it was great to see most of the winners getting along so well and more and more coming to us to ask stuff. My assistant-director-mother-of-the-production-mode got switched on during that weekend. But the best part of the rehearsals was getting to listen to that beautiful music over and over and over again.

Concert days are always special just as opening nights are. I clearly remember last year’s concert day at my beloved Komische Oper Berlin, an exhausting day, but worth all that stress and trouble. And this year’s went just like that. The only day the Friedrichstadtpalast could spare for us to use the stage to rehearse on. So I basically spend most of the Concert Day in the dark auditorium watching tech/blocking rehearsals (tired and being barked at by the director for no obvious reason…). From time to time I’d be called up to the office to work some administrational things like putting away tickets in alphabetical order or copying some more sheet music, organizing stuff and people. The two lovely ladies mainly organizing the Bundeswettbewerb made me be some kind of hostess for one of the receptions being held, so I got dressed up in time (changed my style from homeless to lady!😉 ), went down to be at the rehearsal once more and suddenly was made walk and run a lot more than I did all day before – needless to say I was in heels by that time? So I did some last things that needed to be done while my phone’s battery died and I got my mother to bring the charging cable (smart as I am I brought the charger but not the cable…) when I’d arrive for the concert to watch. So I went backstage and to the front house and back and forth again, checking on our winners and the musicians and the audience – I kind of became a professional in running in my most inappropriate heels for running. Like five minutes before the concert was to start the lady who was filming the performance fainted back stage and everyone was in a mixture of shock and panic to get her up again – nothing not-drama about Bundeswettbewerb!

I think it might be good to stop here and publish my view on the concert and the after party in a few days…..right? This post is too long already and no one is gonna read it in one take anyways. So, bye and read you soon.

What are you most excited about theatre? About music? I’d be super happy to read some of your best stories with musicians and music and musical theatre in the comments or on my facebook-page!

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And here’re some pictures I snapped during the time….

 

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