Convention 2023 (AKA an epic weekend away with your girlfriends doing what you love!)
The lead up to our annual competition starts early, with coaching, dress rehearsals and intensely detailed work on just two songs. But when I start gathering my essentials to pack, red nail polish, false eyelashes, cans of G&T and snacks etc. That’s when I start to feel the excitement building. This years trip was complicated by a rail strike! But the Vivas swung into organising mode and pretty soon everyone was sorted out with a carshare spot. I was lucky enough to get there by lunchtime on Friday when the quartet competition starts. Viva members arrive from Thursday evening if they are singing in a competing quartet, right up until 10.30pm on Friday evening, depending on when they can escape from work, or caring duties. Since we wear our branded Viva hoodies, it is remarkably easy to spot. each other , and very soon friends are sitting together in the auditorium, and grabbing a drink in the bar in the breaks. Watching all the wonderful quartets is a great build up to the chorus nationals the following day. Then we have an early night!
Competition day starts with a good breakfast at our hotel, as it’s going to be a long full on day. Then it’s time to transform into our onstage glamorous personas. Quite a bit of makeup, extra hair styling, and into our sparkly dress. Next me and my chorus roomie are off to the rehearsal space ,where we gather to warm up our voice’s with the rest of the chorus . Then we practice the beginning and ending of both songs. It is a time to check in with everyone, and discuss and fix any last minute concerns. This year we had the amazing director from Forth Valley Chorus come and join us for an hour, which was a lovely bonus.
We all leave the hotel together and make our way to the University Arts Centre. And very soon we are waiting quietly in the wings for our turn.
The seven minutes on stage fly by, we can hear all our friends in the auditorium cheering and clapping, and it’s wonderful. We go on stage and do exactly what we have planned, and it’s a unique feeling. Leaving the stage is always a bittersweet moment after all the months of preparation.
Once we are off stage a well earned drink and debrief about our performance is order. Then we are back in our seats to watch the rest of the choruses compete.
The four judges for the event fly over from our umbrella organisation in America, Sweet Adeline's International. As soon as the last chorus has sung, we all enjoy a mass sing of some of our regional songs, while the scores are collated. The announcement of the results always make my stomach turn over! This year we were fortunate enough to win our category of midsize chorus, and we came third overall. Lace City Chorus had a well deserved win with Aberdeen Chorus coming second.
Because we had won we were to appear in the show in the evening. So after we had enjoyed a quick dinner we were once again back in our rehearsal room, running through two more songs for the evening.
It’s always entertaining and inspiring to see the winning quartets and choruses again. There are guests also and this year we had ‘The Ladies’,four inspirational young women from America who are international quartet champions. After the show everyone gathers in the foyer to catch up with old friends, make new ones and meet and possibly sing with the winners, and indeed each other.
Then gradually we drift back to our hotel for our chorus party. Although we have had a long day we are too excited to sleep, so we dance, we sing and we often do skits and party turns to make each other laugh, and just celebrate being together, whatever our results may be. I went to bed at 1.30am this year, and actually slept well!
After another good breakfast, and a giggle about the night before, we pack and check out. Some people head home. This year I was lucky to be able to stay for the Sunday morning which is great as there are always good classes and workshops run by the visiting judges, and other educators. I attended two sessions held by The Ladies, both were very relaxed, informative and great fun.
It’s always a little sad when we have to leave this wonderful singing bubble and rejoin the real world. But we only have a few days to wait until we will be back with our buddies again singing. And in the meantime my WhatsApp is pinging with all the photos that my mates are sharing from the weekend. Barbershop really is the best hobby!