Wednesday: Preliminaries

by Megan M. on August 10, 2006 (Music) |

Where on earth did I leave off?

Wednesday I slowed my routine to a crawl. Olwen and I had planned to meet at 3:30 at Capel Seion Newydd to rehearse briefly; she had other competitors to meet as well. I went for my Indian head massage – incredibly interesting new experience! It was very nice, and left my shoulders and neck and head feeling amazing. Also, the woman who provided the service – I think her name is Janie – was very friendly and wonderful to talk to. She makes me wish I was in town longer, and not quite so broke!

I relaxed; I napped; I read. Eventually I got ready and gave my hair plenty of time to dry perfectly. It was a wonderful, slow day. Then I grabbed my father and we left for preliminaries.

When Dad and I pulled up in the taxi, we saw Olwen in her car, all is well! But once we were out of the taxi, and into the wind and weather, we discovered that no one had opened the church. We were stranded.

Eventually I asked Olwen if we could sit in her car, but not before the wind played absolute havoc with my hair. In retrospect, it really wasn’t that bad – a much improved situation as compared to how it might have been with my long hair! But at the time I was incredibly vexed. You know that feeling when you want to strangle something? That was the feeling.

We waited for almost an hour. Competitor after competitor arrived, and stood out in the wind. (I was incredibly lucky, to have gotten there so early – no matter how out of sorts I felt about it.) I felt a lot better once I finally got inside, got comfortable, warmed up a little. My voice wasn’t being reasonable. It was a “bad day” by all accounts. I’d sung beautifully in the shower, but you know, it’s the shower. And I didn’t know what was going to happen when I was called to sing – my brief rehearsal with Olwen, just a few lines of Gweddi, was not comforting. It just wasn’t smooth – it was difficult to keep moving, full of little pockets. I’m sure it sounded fine to everyone else, but I wasn’t happy.

Except, well… I was fine. I was optimistic, I was calm and collected. I was not really concerned. I don’t know why. But it turned out I didn’t need to be concerned, anyway! And maybe by not being too concerned, I positively affected my performance?

At least three quarters of the competitors sang before me. I sat patiently (mostly) and listened. It was beneficial, as many of them were singing the same songs I was, and I got to listen to their inflection and pronunciation. In fact, by the time I sang, I had changed a couple of small things automatically. I’m sure these turned out to my benefit!

Everyone was singing the choice piece first, the Bach or Verdi. The entire time I’ve been rehearsing, I’ve done it the other way – Gweddi, then Gwridog. I was nervous about trying to sing them backwards. I thought I’d be too tired after Gwridog to get through Gweddi properly. But I didn’t have an opportunity to tell Olwen how I felt, so the first song she started was Gwridog y Fflamau.

It went fabulously.

In our last rehearsal, Olwen had told me that Gwridog was perfect – but this time, it felt perfect. The sun broke through the clouds outside and light near blinded me through the window above and to my right – I wasn’t looking in that direction, so it felt good, it felt magical. I exuded crazy gypsy from my pores. And it was working. I was in voice. It was nothing like my warm up or the brief rehearsal, it was excellent.

I went into Gweddi then, after a pause for the judges. I am not as comfortable with this song – I haven’t known it nearly as long, and it is difficult, and for some reason the Welsh feels more foreign to me. Going into competition I discovered that the tempo was much more reasonable than I’d been practicing it with Leah, and that gave me an edge – I didn’t have to concentrate so hard on maintaining my breath on those long lines! But I did have less time in each line to remember my Welsh diction, so I had to concentrate on that instead. I think I got it mostly all right – a woman commented at the end that she noticed my “ah” was too much “eh”, and that was something I knew I’d have to work on. But that was the only thing she mentioned, and she was a native Welsh speaker – so I felt just fine! I’d had a little wobbly on one note… I thought it was awful, but I wasn’t sure who else had noticed it.

Here’s the thing.

When I went into the preliminaries, I thought they were making a simple cut. I was pretty sure they were going to pass through everyone of a certain quality, and the actual competition would happen Thursday.

I was so very, very wrong. They narrowed it down to three of us.

I heard this just as the judges left for their deliberation, and exchanged a look with Dad. “I can think of two who might have been better than me,” I said, “And I think there’s a third, I just can’t think of which one it might be. I don’t think I’m going to make it, down to three.” Dad agreed with me. We smiled and laughed and were pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it, but kept saying that it could really go either way – we just didn’t know. It was a funny realization, but I was okay – having gotten this far already made me very happy, and it was my first time, after all. And beyond that, all the competitors were older than me. I’d barely made the Over 25 category!

So you can imagine the look on my face and the way I was jolted when my name was second on the list. I didn’t understand the Welsh, but the smile on the woman’s face said it all. Welsh, Welsh, someone’s name, Welsh, Megan Elizabeth Morris, Welsh, someone’s name, lots more Welsh.

Dad says that Mom thought at first that they were reading the names of the people who were cut. (We have no pessimists in this family.) My jaw dropped. I stared for a few moments. I wasn’t sure what had just happened – and if what I thought had happened had really happened, why?? I turned to Dad. “What just happened??” I hissed franticly.

“They took it back, they said they changed their minds,” he quipped, straight-faced.

I gaped at the facilitators in the front.

Why had they put me through? I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know why I specifically thought I shouldn’t have been – but I didn’t feel as if I had excelled far enough above the competition to be guaranteed a place in the top three. I hadn’t felt that I in particular had been more fabulous than anyone else – and I could definitely think of a couple that were probably better than me. (One in particular was on the list with me – the other I didn’t discover until later.) Had that really happened?

Dad and I ended up having to schlep all the way to the Eisteddfod to find out about Thursday’s situation, which took forever, and left us waiting for taxis and waiting for taxis and waiting for taxis. I was freaking out, thinking of all the things I had to do before I sang next. I had very little time to get everything done, get enough sleep, and get back to the Eisteddfod in the morning! But I tried very hard to calm down, notified certain parties of my success, and called it a day.

Highlights from Wednesday evening included Louise bringing me dinner in the lobby so I could keep working in my limited time, and making plans to meet her for coffee / lunch on Friday (assuming I didn’t compete in the Rhuban Glas). I know I don’t drink coffee. Hush. I can’t wait!

More soon!

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