Shrewsbury School

A Week in the Life of Sienna Holmes (EDH LVI)

Thursday 17 November 2011

We asked Sienna to write up her week, knowing that she was singing a solo in the St. Cecilia concerts at the weekend.  It now appears that she was doing quite a lot of other extra-curricular activities as well!

Sienna HolmesMonday: 
Someone once told me that you should start as you mean to go on, so after the fourth time my alarm went off I managed to get out of bed. However, I then remembered the St. Cecilia’s concert, followed by the school play, and then the house play, oh, and an unfinished essay in for today, and that vocabulary test... so I ran back to bed and hid under the covers. It was a promising start to the week. Despite the Baltic weather conditions outside, I set off prepared for a new day of lessons. House netball was surprisingly satisfying, and with a 3-1 win EDH proved champions, again. I had no fear of a dull evening of Top schools though, with a St. Cecilia’s rehearsal to while away the hours. Still in the aftermath of our lunch break ‘rehearsal’ I was beginning to wonder if I had lost the ability to read music, and also beginning to feel a little nervous. Thankfully I had a considerable amount of support, in the shape of a hundred or so committed choristers. Unfortunately, none of us had quite anticipated the scale of the choir or the Orchestra and found ourselves singing into our copies.

Tuesday:
Today’s lessons were a bit of a blur and my Top-schools diary is beginning to feel heavy, which doesn’t really put a spring in my step. However, I did find being forced to play Meatloaf in my guitar lesson somewhat relaxing, or at least a good way to confuse myself enough to forget about schoolwork. At lunch we had an emergency soloist meeting for the St. Cecilia mass where we finalised what we were singing, and things were beginning to take shape.  After supper, I got to play rehearsals in time for some Henry IV. Mr Fanning got very excited when we reached the screaming scene and declared that the play may not be a complete failure; I praised God I’d learnt my lines.

Wednesday:
After some intensive double German in the morning, the afternoon was a chance to catch up on some Top-Schools and play some badminton (a highlight of my week). This was promptly followed by a chamber choir rehearsal where we learned the gruelling nature of Eric Whitacere’s pieces. We also sorted out the other material for the St. Cecilia concert and were done in time to miss the supper queue; one of our better rehearsals. In the evening there was a House play rehearsal. EDH have teamed up with Ridgemount to put on our own production of 40 Years On by Alan Bennett and I was lucky enough to get the part of ‘Nanny’ where I find myself shouting at a small boy in 3rd form profusely. Despite my attempts to appear friendly he still looked pretty scared. Got back to find the whole of EDH watching a Disney film together, standard behaviour.

Thursday:
I spent a good 70 minutes in music staring at blank paper this morning before I decided I had writer’s block, but things looked up in English when we were allowed to watch a film. After lunch I had a piano lesson and then a singing lesson where I ran over some things for the Mass and marked up my score for The Magic Flute, the half staged opera Mr Moore is hoping to put on next term. Thursday evening was spent catching up on work, learning lines, and going on a run with my roommate Daisy.

Sienna HolmesFriday:
Friday was long and fairly dormant, apart from Yoga which was a lot more intense than I remembered.  We had a full rehearsal in the evening for the St Cecilia’s Mass and it was the first time everything really slotted into place. It looked as though there was hope after all the hard work from the choir and the orchestra for a truly outstanding concert.

Saturday:
Saturday afternoon was one big rehearsal leading up to the evening’s performance and nerves were running high for everyone involved. Mr Moore on the other hand insisted we were going to be a success and so we pushed on. Whilst drinking lots of water and waiting for our turn I was able to listen to some of the other performers in the concert. The string and wind ensemble were particularly good but most significant of all was the Piano Concerto Played by the orchestra with Galin Ganchev as the soloist. His talent is undeniable, but with this particular piece it was unconceivable that a musician as young as Galin could play to such a remarkable standard. Although it was beautiful to listen to it was a hard act to follow and by nine that evening as we were lined up about to go onstage I was really beginning to wonder why I’d ever agreed. Much to my relief the chamber choir pieces were a success and by the time we’d reached the mass I was feeling ready to give it a shot. Thankfully the choir and orchestra were seamless and when it came to my first solo entry I managed to hold my own. The rest of the mass was over much too quickly and I even found I  was enjoying myself too much to worry that my music was going to fall out my folder!

Sunday:
To my dismay I found myself being woken at an unearthly hour for a chapel choir rehearsal, but I was soon persuaded when I found out Jerusalem was on the hymn list. The Shrewsbury remembrance service was particularly moving and it was plain to see that the remembrance is so relevant at an all-boys school. It was a very poignant service. After Chapel I had rehearsals for the school play all day and I was feeling pretty exhausted and beginning to dread the evening’s performance. Luckily help was at hand and after another emergency chamber choir meeting, a shower and some seriously strong coffee I was feeling more human. The nerves kicked in as we waited offstage and with them came the excitement; it was after all our final performance. The Mass went terrifically well and was by far our best rendition and in the Agnus Dei, my own solo, I finally felt as though all the effort that had been put in by everyone over the last month had finally paid off. At the end we were met with copious amounts of applause and were generously given a beautiful bunch of flowers and book tokens by the Shrewsbury School Choral Society – and we were allowed to keep them this night. I suppose it’s safe to say that despite my grumbles the concert really wasn’t too bad, in the end.

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