Bundeswettbewerb Gesang

Working With Talent Pt. 2 // Bundeswettbewerb Gesang

So after we brought the video-lady back up again I reached my seat next to my mother just in time before Michael Dixon got on stage to announce that unlike advertised before not Dominique Horowitz will be presenting but Katharine Mehrling who’d already been the president of the jury during the finals. And she did well presenting.

I was just as excited as I tend to be on opening night performances throughout the concert with that bitter-sweet moment of whitnessing something very special and something you look forward to but at the same time seeing that the event will end a very special time (which actually ment: returning to my dance studies classes, which are great but working with musical theatre is a little bit better….). But still I was eager to see if everything went just as we rehearsed and as far as I could see (and can remeber) everything was just fine.

You can watch every single performance on Vimeo and one of the performances I shared two days ago for Music Monday! And to be honest I think it’s best for you to spend an evening on Vimeo instead of reading what I think about all these performances – exept for said Music Monday…in that case, please, go, read what I wrote over there. 😉

I CAN’T even say bad things about the performers, I liked all of them, but since I spend about a week (more or less) with them I’m not able to pretend I can totally write just about their performances. But what I can do, is write about my mother’s view from what she told me. She’s a avid (musical) theatre goer, she’s the one travelling with me and seeing shows with me – she sees musicals as well as opera and straight plays. The one song performed she still talks about and even has shown to her friends at work is Marissa Möller’s performance of the chanson “Rabenmutter” (a German term for uncaring, cruel, bad mother), she als really liked Nedime Ince’s Turkish-German rendition of “Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte”, while I friend of mine really, really liked Elisabeth Köstner’s “Pulled” from the Addams Family. The song that kind of revived my Sondheim-obsession was Philipp Büttner’s “Marry Me a Little” while we all laughed our asses off when Paula Skorupa sang “Toothbrush” (other than the title is suggesting it’s a German song…but even if you speak English only I bet you’ll have fun just watching her!). I could go on and on like that. (if someone of you readers watches the videos, please let me know which one you like best!)

During intermission I went backstage to check on everything and see if there was any work for me to do (I remembered last year’s concert when I sat back stage and was holding hands of nervous singers and helping the stage manager). I shortly talked to the director to make some arrangements concerning the end of the concert when each and everyone of the winners had to go directly upstaris to attent a small photo call and the reception, we agreed on meeting in the left wing of the stage and there I was, sadly  not beeing able to see the last number from the auditorium, but at least I was there and able to listen from the side and I was there when they first went off stage which – in my opinion – is always a faszinating moment to see people in. After they took off their microphones the director took the lead and ordered me to be the last and from what I remeber we lost one of our “ducklings” and I ran all over the building looking for him (let’s just remeber the heels I wore here…), but when I came up to the lobby where the reception was held, he suddenly was there.

These receptions are always a little fun, because they actually are work (we mostly just wait for the people to go to organize some things in the end) but not really, we are allowed to drink a little wine and share some small talk with people, which was actually fun, because most of (the Berlin based) Germany’s musical theatre people were there and I had some nice conversations, mostly with gay men, but I also met an actor I work with at the criminal dinner entertainment I work for and he introduced me to the “assistant” headmaster of the musical college in Munich where he studied. I’m not very good at small talk but after I had more than a week of practise with the participants I did quite well I guess.

At about 1am I took some of the winners back to their dressing rooms and went up to the office to get changed myself. I packed my stuff and arranged everything to leave together with my bosses, when we went past the dressing rooms I decided to wait for the ones still there. So I watched my bosses leave and waited for Peter and Lisa, who somehow managed to get me to join them and some other participants for one last drink (because I escorted them to the bar anyways).

End of story: I was home at 3 am, and woke up at 8 am the next morning, I sat through all my classes (six hours of philosophical and theatrical dance studies research discussions) and went to work for two hours afterwards. I’m pretty proud, yes, I am.

Personally theses weeks with almost 100 hours of working show me how durable my body can be and I’ve always loved working directly with artists (though most of the time I didn’t work WITH but FOR them…anyway…). It was a good experience to be completely surrounded by music for that time which usually isn’t the case when I’m working.

What were your most intensive working experiences? What concert did you buzz about lately? Let me know in the comments below or on my facebook page!

And to all our winners, the people I spend the weekend with at Friedrichstadt Palast: I can’t wait to hear what you’ll do once you’ll leave your schools! Keep me posted, if possible. 😀

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….

 

My Week(s) #17, Nov. 24th – Dec. 7th

what I saw
Let’s see: Many young talents at Bundeswettbewerb Gesang’s finals. Long hours of rehearsals for the concert that followed the finals. Four criminal dinner entertainment performances I managed.

what I read    
nothing. I have a feeling I can’t even concentrate long enough to remeber my name.

what I listened to
the winners of Bundeswettbewerb Gesang. Ragtime, Shrek, Kinky Boots, Sondheim’s Company and Marry Me a Little.

what I bought 
again, dried mango. Nail polish. And a lipstick (when I’m stressed I tend to do that.) and a train ticket to Kiel for next Tuesday.

what I did  
I worked. I met loads of nice people. Might blog about that soon.

where I travelled
to and from work. a lot. by bike. because the train isn’t running right now.

My Week #12, Oct 21st – 27th.

what I saw
kept up on my tv shows. nothing else.

what I read    
texts for my dance studies classes. sheet music.

what I listened to
to the participants of Bundeswettbewerb Gesang (national singing competition), this year it’s the musical/chanson turn and I get to listen to them while they practise with their pianists before they go on stage because I’m working to take care of them. Plus: Loads of Next to Normal and Shrek and Man of no Importance.

what I bought 
leafy greens. coffee. more leafy greens. more coffee.

what I did  
I worked three days at mentioned Bundeswettbewerb Gesang which was tough, then I worked at my office at university, had a three-hour-class on Friday, then headed to the office of the criminal dinner entertainment I work for and had a performance to manage in the evening. And an other one on Saturday night. I met two lovely friends, grabed a salad at a great little salad bar with one and coffee with the other.

where I travelled
to and from work.