My little guy loves to sing. Last year he auditioned for the school’s choir but during that process he was shown the door for making a silly noise and never had the chance to audition, let alone be in the choir. He had to wait an entire year to audition again and this time he was on his very best behaviour, passed his audition and gained a hallowed place in the choir.
Once a week he has been attending choir rehearsals in his lunch hour and hasn’t minded giving up some running about time one little bit. He loves to show me his folder of music and tells me all about the songs he is learning and even says, ‘And this one’s opera’. I don’t actually think he’s being taught to sing in an operatic way but never mind.
Last night was Alfie’s ‘night of nights’ where all his rehearsals culminated in a performance at the Sydney Opera House. He had been looking forward to the evening for so long and couldn’t believe he was actually going to be on stage at that very special venue. As I walked him to school that morning for his day of rehearsals at the Opera House, I said, ‘No one else in the family has ever performed at the Opera House; you are the first one to be on that stage’. And he said, ‘And I’m not even the best singer or actor in the family’. Bless!
After his day of rehearsals I met him on the steps of the Opera House at 3pm and then we had to kill time until his performance four hours later. What to do! Fortunately the Opera House is in an excellent position for killing time so Alfie and I went from the Opera House steps across to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
But first we had to read the signs. Alfie and his big brother have always been obsessed with signs and I’ve never been able to go from Point A to Point B without stopping to read signs. After the signage episode we were off to wander through the Gardens. We looked at sculptures and structures that against their intended purpose, Alfie found very tactile and excellent for climbing.
Once Alfie came down from the sculptures we had a look through the gates of Government House. Government House was completed in 1845 and today it serves as the official residence of the Governor of New South Wales and is used for ceremonies, receptions. luncheons, dinners and meetings. Years ago I remember seeing the late Princess Diana and her then husband, Prince Charles being driven through the gates as the property was used to accommodate them during their royal tour.
I didn’t actually realise that you can tour Government House. I’m going to take Alfie on a tour during the current school holidays and let you know all about it.
We continued walking around the Gardens and ended up back at the Opera House and had dinner in one of the restaurants on the Lower Concourse of the Opera House. During our dinner I asked Alfie how many songs he would be singing in the concert. He said, ‘Ten’.
‘Ten songs?’ I said very surprised, ‘That’s a lot; you must have been working hard’.
‘Maybe five’, he said, looking like he was none too sure. I had to take Alfie back to the steps of the Opera House at 6.15pm. He met up with all his choir buddies and you could tell how excited all the children were.
Carl and Archie arrived and we headed towards our seats in the Concert Hall. I actually had booked these seats the day they went on sale and that clearly wasn’t prompt enough because we ended up in the nose-bleed section just a couple of rows from the very, very back. And the Concert Hall seats weren’t designed for anyone with height and long legs and so Carl complained about the cramped conditions – standard! We were more fortunate than some of our friends who’d hesitated longer than us to book and ended up with standing tickets – punishing!
And you wouldn’t have wanted to be standing because looking at the program, you knew you were in for a long night. There were 700 primary school-aged children on the stage from 50 schools. I tried to look for Alfie but alas, despite hours of searching we couldn’t find him.
It wasn’t just a concert of choir performances; there were also marching bands, orchestras, speeches and a farewell to the woman who had coordinated the event for the past 21 years. Archie enjoyed the orchestra playing Pirates of the Caribbean and Carl loved Nella Fantasia from that stirring movie, The Mission.
And as for that ‘opera number’ Alfie was telling me about, it was The Solider by Paul Jarman and his favourite of the not ‘ten’, not ‘five’ but six songs he sang. When we collected him his choir teacher pulled me aside and said, ‘Alfie has an outstanding voice and is a really good singer; you really should let him audition for the regional choir’. I’ll add that to my to-do list – must google ‘regional choir’ – no idea what it is.
It was a very long concert and when one act was moving off the stage and the next item was being set up, there were quite a few pauses and boring speeches. However, Alfie, who normally has a very short attention span was full of concentration and really loved being on stage and was so proud to be performing in a venue that is one of the most well recognised in the world. It’s fantastic that NSW Public Schools give children this very memorable opportunity.