Did I believe

By Elizabeth Cook, 1st Alto

The first notes of Breaking were the most important notes that I sang in the entire Home gig. 

This was the first performance of this piece by our Maestro, Andrea Cockerton, setting to music the words of Wendell Berry. I was desperate to do this beautiful work justice. How heartbreaking would it be if we got it wrong? How bad would that be with the composer standing there, watching us, entreating us to make her exquisite work sound like she intended? Oh, there wouldn't be any recriminations, in fact Andrea would have been awfully nice about it and more worried about our feelings than her own, but we would have known if she was disappointed, we would have seen it in her face and we didn't want to disappoint her. We wanted to make her proud of us.

So I watched the pattern Andrea was beating to bring us in, one-two-three, and I breathed in and I watched as hard as I possibly could, and as the upbeat, the fourth beat, was signalled, I committed to my note. I was going to sing that note confidently and, if for some reason that I couldn't think of but that might exist, I got it wrong, either the pitch or the timing, I would be loud and unmissable. When I sang: “Did I believe...” along with my section. I put as much richness into that note as I could whilst keeping it precise and at the right volume and the right kind of sound.

These were the most important notes I sang in the entire concert. Those four notes were the ones that mattered, the ones that I couldn't afford to get wrong. There was nowhere to hide. There was nothing between us and the audience but those three words Did I believe...

The rest of the piece was glorious and powerful and when we had finished the composer smiled at us, a warm, genuine smile of pleasure that we had performed well, that we had done her creation justice.