From the orchestra pit: Cambridge to Wycombe

Wednesday 9 November 2011

We have just completed the most concentrated and complicated section of the autumn tour so far – Cambridge, Lincoln, Harrogate and High Wycombe – with little or no time to come home between shows to replenish the supply of socks and other essentials!

We have had a mixture of acoustics to contend with: from the pleasant-sounding ‘secret’ pit of the West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge (so deep we were utterly invisible), where we could play as loudly as we liked without fear of being overwhelming, to the delicate and exposed sound in Lincoln’s charming little theatre, where we played in full view of the audience and, to our delight, the stage.

It was at Lincoln Theatre Royal that we first saw much of what is involved in the production of The Fairy Queen, and could at last see (with a slight crick in the neck as a result) the dancers, acrobats and puppets as well as the singers. Our accommodation in Lincoln varied from the unstoppable hospitality of Sue Addison’s B&B to the circular upper floors of the astonishing Crown Windmill, where the Old Street Band’s conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny celebrated his 50th birthday in true ETO style, with cakes and candles and much bonhomie.

ETO’s orchestra, singers and creative team celebrate Jonathan’s 50th birthday in Lincoln

Harrogate was our next port of call, whose theatre is so tiny that we could only fit a ‘skeleton’ orchestra in the pit. We rattled away and made as much noise as we could; it was something of a relief to welcome back our colleagues at High Wycombe this week, where the pit was delightfully spacious and the acoustics better than we had been led to believe.

Talking of which, we are looking forward to the legendary sound qualities of the Snape Maltings Concert Hall later on this week…

Jean Paterson and The Old Street Band

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