There are few things more terrifying than waking up on the morning of a concert and realising you’ve lost your voice.
Alright, so I can think of a few, but it’s one I’d rather not repeat. Especially when that solo is the opening Zulu chant from the Circle of Life and the setting is none other than Durham Cathedral. Probably the biggest solo I am ever going to get and definitely the one I’ve been most looking forward to. So it should be just my luck that I found myself almost voiceless on the morning of the big day, throwing not just one but two gigs into violent disarray. Thanks to a little help from my friends (shout out in especial to the wonderful Emily Collinson for recommending me the miraculous Vocalzone pills) I was able to pull my voice back from the brink at the final hour and deliver the goods. It was still a semitone out, and because of my nerves I guess I rushed it too, but all things considered it could have gone so much worse. Like, my voice could have just gone before the solo. Or worse, gone halfway through, like it did once during The Sun Whose Rays in The Mikado several years back. But it held, even during the crazily last-minute additional solo in the King of Pride Rock finale – which, considering everybody was involved, probably went unheard by everyone except those who were listening out for it, even though I threw caution to the wind and belted out those last Zulu lines with all of my heart and soul, not to mention the last of my vocal chords. Lebo M. does it so much better because he’s the real deal, of course. But I hope I did him proud tonight. I dedicate that one to him. Him and, of course, all my champions in the Durham A Cappella Choir, the one and only Northern Lights. I don’t tend to miss much when I travel, but there will be a hole in my heart for evermore when I have to say goodbye to you all at the end of the year. You don’t know just how much you all mean to me.
Being part of the Northern Lights on their rise to power this year has been one of the best decisions of my life. No doubt. But trumping that and all the facts and life-lessons of the year, perhaps the most important lesson I’m taking away from this year is the danger of doing too much. Good time management may be a staple CV boon, but I’d put an honest acceptance of when too much is too much higher up the list, if I had a say in things. I’ve always tried to live by the creed that having too much to do is always better than having too little, which breeds boredom, idleness and a despicable state of mind. That’s fine, but instead of swinging between extremes as I tend to, in future I’ll be aiming for that golden middle-ground. I’m happy to be the one who does the planning and enthuses along the way, but the responsibility of authority is still beyond me. When you have to balance that power with everything else, it’s not just other people that you let down, it’s your own state of mind. This year for some reason I thought I’d be able to balance five societies, the novel, my degree, a social life, an attempt at a relationship and my sanity. Most of them took a serious hit in one way or another, but it’s the last that’s suffered the most. I’ve not had the chance to meditate properly for almost a year and it shows. I haven’t even managed to keep the novel going, which I stormed through last year. Some useful notes for my last year, at any rate. I know now that if I want to truly apply myself to something, no matter how appealing everything else may seem, it’s better to focus on just a couple of good things rather than trying to please everybody by tackling everything at the same time. Because it’s impossible to please everyone, of course, but most pressing of all, everybody’s friend is nobody’s friend. And that’s something I should really know better. BB x