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    Coal is rarely the stuff of choral works, but then little else about Welsh National Opera s newest commission is usual, writes Russell Hector Friday May 23,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2008
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      Coal is rarely the stuff of choral works, but then little else about
      Welsh National Opera's newest commission is usual, writes Russell Hector

      Friday May 23, 2008
      The Guardian

      A couple of weeks ago, Fiona Church could not make choir rehearsal for
      Carbon 12, a new choral symphony about coal. "Not to worry," said the
      choir director. "You've got it sussed, haven't you?" Not quite, said
      Church. "In my nightmares I'm running through the streets without any
      knickers on."

      All amateur singers taking on a tough new work will recognise the
      stress, but few express it quite so graphically. Today, three weeks
      ahead of the premiere of Carbon 12 at Cardiff's Millennium Centre,
      Church is back in rehearsal in a small hall opposite a string of kebab
      shops in Merthyr Tydfil. It's a sunny evening, but the eyes of the
      women in the 60-strong choir are fixed on their conductor, their minds
      stuffed with crotchets, quavers and the geology of the Glamorgan syncline.

      Some, at least, share Church's anxiety, and three make no secret of
      it: they are wearing T-shirts that proclaim "We can do it" in bilious
      pink letters. "It's a challenge," admits Jan Erskine. At the final
      party, if all goes well, she and her friends will wear new shirts
      bearing the legend: "We jolly well did it."

      Carbon 12 is not so much a choral symphony as a dramatic cantata, with
      a text by John Binias and a score by Errollyn Wallen that tells the
      300m-year story of coal in Wales and also the story of the men who
      mined it, and their families. Commissioned by Welsh National Opera, it
      will be performed in Wales and Birmingham next month under the
      direction of Carlo Rizzi, WNO's Welsh-speaking former music director.
      The piece calls for 250 performers: two principal soloists, eight
      other soloists, the men from the company's chorus, the Parc and Dare
      brass band from Treorchy, the Risca male choir and the 60 women
      recruited specially for the event.

      No one is quite sure how they are all going to fit on the stage at the
      Millennium Centre. But that's not the problem worrying Church. "I'm a
      rock singer and don't usually do this sort of thing," she says. "I
      have to play Bon Jovi in the car on the way home from rehearsals to
      recover."

      Read the rest of the article here:-
      http://arts.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,2281479,00.html

      ---------------------------------
      John Neal
      www.singers.com
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