Once everything had been confirmed, Francesca and I talked a bit more, as there was a lot of planning to do. The event was to be held in Wales, and so there were lots of arrangements to be made.
I began to choose my songs, along with a dress, and I was just so excited! June couldn't come quick enough. But that meant that I had two months to prepare, and so I was very grateful for that. I'd chosen my songs, and I worked very hard on them.
I was very excited to be going to Wales; I'd never been there before, and I've always thought that it looks so beautiful; I love the countryside, and Wales was just full of it!
They do say that all good things come to those who wait, and did I have a lot of waiting to do! I definitely found some things to occupy my time, though. I practised my songs every day; I discovered that I was to sing five songs instead of three, so I chose those, and I managed to pick out a dress. I also bought a “small” overnight case for the journey up there, although I feel a large suitcase is good to have, anyway.
Finally, at long last, the day was here! We woke up at 5am (which was not easy for me; I like my sleep, haha!) and we were on the road at 5:30. I had brought some CD's to keep us entertained (and keep me awake!) as it was over a 3 hour drive! And so, we cranked up the volume, and blasted out Disney, Michael Jackson, Phantom of the Opera, and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. It certainly kept us occupied!
We arrived a little bit before check in, and so Dad and I decided to go exploring the local city centre. The Capitol shopping centre was huge! It had about five floors, and this amazing movie and TV memorabilia shop, and I got Molly a Sonic notebook, and I got myself a handbag that was shaped like a Hogwarts letter.
We soon went back to the hotel for a much needed nap, and a few hours later, I started to get ready for the concert. It was to be held in the beautiful St. Edward's Church, and I needed to get there early for sound check.
I warmed up my voice, put my face on, and packed my dress and shoes, and we headed off to the venue. The church was big, with very tall windows. We went inside, where the sound equipment was already being set up, and introduced ourselves. Sadly, Francesca herself couldn't be there, as she had been taken ill, but the lovely Colin was there to help out.
While everyone was getting everything ready, I took the opportunity to explore the church a little bit. I love old churches; everything about them – the windows, the architecture, the acoustics, everything. I have performed in church before, for Shall We Dance last year, and I hope to perform at more churches in the future.
So, while everyone was getting set up, I was looking around the old church. I found the most amazing pipe organ upstairs, and I was so tempted to try it out! I love pipe organs; does any other instrument sound so dramatic? I can actually play a little bit of Bach's “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” which I think sounds best on an organ, and I really, really wanted to play it.
After I had finished exploring, I went back downstairs, where the sound had been set up, and programmes had been laid on the seats. I was so excited to see my name listed in there! And I also discovered that I would be opening the show, so that was just a little bit of pressure, haha!
After a quick sound check, I went to change into my amazing new pink dress, and silver shoes. I had already curled my hair at the hotel, but it had already fallen. But I had thought ahead, and I had brought my curling iron with me. It was quite a sight; me sat in the corner of the church, in a full-length pink gown, curling my hair! It fell out again not long after; I think I'm just not destined to have curly hair.
Not long after, it was time for the show to start, so I took my seat with the other performers, and waited for the audience to arrive, and when they did, Colin spoke to them for a little bit, and then introduced me.
I suddenly felt very nervous as I climbed up onto the stage. The church was more than halfway full, and I could see everyone looking at me. Hoping that I didn't look as nervous as I felt, I smiled, and introduced my first song, “Pie Jesu.” The sound was absolutely fabulous! The crowd seemed to like it, and I got a big round of applause when I had finished.
My next song was “Ben,” by Michael Jackson. I absolutely adore this song, and perform it whenever I can. It's actually the theme song to an old film called “Willard,” about a boy who befriends a rat named Ben. I think the audience liked this one more, as it's a bit more well-known than Pie Jesu.
My next song was the crowd-pleaser “Nessun Dorma.” Like all classical, and classical crossover singers, I love singing this song, because not only is it amazing to sing, seeing the crowd get excited when they recognise it, and cheering when you hit that high note, is an out of this world experience. I'm pretty sure that everybody knows this song, so I try to include it in my sets as much as possible.
They really enjoyed that song, and I got some cheering at the end! I tried, but I couldn't stop myself from grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
My next song after that was “Blessed” by Elton John. I had learnt this for Shall We Dance – Best of British night, and I was looking to incorporate it into my set list more often, because I think it's a really beautiful song. Again, the crowd liked this one, too.
And, finally, my last song. Colin had asked if I was going to do “O Mio Babbino Caro,” as it was his favourite, and if I wasn't, would I mind putting it in my set? I am always happy to sing that aria, and so, of course, I added it to my set. I hoped that Colin would like it, and so I launched into it.
The crowd really enjoyed this one, too, and the shouts of “Bravo!” made me feel so happy.
When the applause died down, I thanked the audience for listening, and then stepped down and took my seat to watch the rest of the show.
The next lady, Judith performed three beautiful church hymns, and she sang them all acapella, which was amazing. The next singer, a young man called Tarik, sang two songs, “Liability,” and “Read All About It,” and he had a very deep, mature voice for one so young. And the last performer was a singer-songwriter called Stewart Alexander, who had also donated a painting for the raffle. He sang several original songs, which were all really funny, and everyone gave him, and all the performers, a huge round of applause when they had finished.
After the show, it was time for the raffle. My dad had bought some tickets, and we won! It was a “take what you want” table, so you could pick whatever you liked, which is a really nice idea, and Dad chose some Jack Daniels.
After the raffle, the event was finished, but Colin mentioned that there was coffee and cake in the next room, and we naturally all flocked there. There were lots of different cakes and cupcakes, and I couldn't resist trying a few.
As we were snacking, I also got talking to a few of the audience members. One gentleman said to me that he loved my performance, and he loved my interpretation of “Ben,” and he was just so nice.
Before we left, we took some photos in the church; it was just so beautiful there, we couldn't pass up the opportunity. And I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pose with the pipe organ! However, climbing a narrow, darkened stairs in a full length ballgown isn't something I'll be doing again anytime soon! I've added the photos to the gallery, so you can check them out there.
After that, it was time for us to go back to the hotel, and get some rest. We had to drive back to Portsmouth the next day after for another concert, so we needed our sleep. However, once we got back, we were very, very hungry, so I got changed, and we set out in search of somewhere to eat.
Cardiff is such a beautiful city, and it was full of big, old churches, which I really to explore, but getting food was more important. We eventually found a Dominoes Pizza, which hit the spot.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience; I was so glad to have been asked to take part, and I hope I get to do it again.
I have uploaded my performance of "Pie Jesu" to my YouTube channel, which you can watch here:
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog; I hope you enjoyed it.Until next time