Imagine standing in a huge, Gothic church lit by glittering chandeliers, a place where Mozart and Haydn played on the organ, in a city which saw the premiere of Don Giovanni.
The pitch rings out and we burst into: “We go together like rama lama lama lama dinga da dinga dong.”
Yes a lot!
“OnStage in Prague” is part of Interkultur’s series of international choir competitions and festivals and it was quite an adventure.
Many of us read music but others prefer to learn by ear so the thought of mastering two pieces – one in Czech the other in Latin – to perform as part of a massed choir in one of the most musical cities in Europe was a bit daunting.
But our wonderful MD Miguel Fernandes was endlessly reassuring, instilling us with confidence and encouraging us to take a full part in the event.
Prague is a vibrant, historic and above all musical city and we managed to pack in as much sightseeing as possible between rehearsals and workshops. There was time for some on-the-spot busking in the city centre, on trams, buses and riverboats. And we couldn’t resist singing Bohemian Rhapsody while we were in Bohemia!
Taking part alongside us were choirs from India, China, Serbia, Germany and three local Czech choruses. Most of us stayed at the same hotel so there was plenty of time for informal sing-alongs and exchanging of traditional songs just for fun.
The workshop was led by acclaimed conductor Jan Míšek, whose own choirs have won many gold medals. He worked us hard, but with humour and energy, patiently explaining pronunciations and intonations for both the Czech folk song and the Latin Sanctus.
We soon made friends with the local youngsters who all appeared to be note perfect and, crossing the language barrier with music, gesture and humour we gradually gained in confidence.
The evening performance was amazing with soaring descants from the boys’ choirs, glorious harmonies of madrigals, resonant and beautiful tones of the Serbian acapella group and the most charming performance by a choir of Chinese schoolchildren.
And the massed chorus sing at the end? Yes it was a challenge, but exhilarating and uplifting to perform among so many talented singers.