Ben: Tues 9 Feb

I am really enjoying working on Scoring A Century. David Blake and Keith Warner have written an excellent piece, and I’m particularly enjoying the variety of musical styles and the humour in the dialogue!

The majority of my work on this production has been as repetiteur in the rehearsal room. The first week of the contract consisted of music rehearsals – either doing individual coaching with members of the cast, or playing for ensemble and chorus rehearsals taken by Lionel Friend.

Following on from that, as we moved into production rehearsals, it was fascinating to see Keith Warner at work as he started to put together the “panels” that make up the piece.

We are now into the fifth week of rehearsals, currently working through the latter part of the second half. I’m very much looking forward to next week, which is when we will start running the show through. It’s a very rewarding piece to play – lots of notes to keep me occupied – and the mixture of musical styles is maintaining my interest. I’m particularly enjoying the musical theatre and cabaret elements – especially as the majority of my work is in the Musical Theatre genre, having conducted two previous musicals for the Conservatoire.

Outside of the rehearsal room, I’ve been busy with two other areas of work involved with the opera: Firstly, I’ve been keeping a careful record of errata in the Vocal Score and the Full Score, and keeping both Lionel and David Blake informed with the latest developments, as it is vital that both the Vocal and Full score are as accurate as possible – especially when working on a new piece. (Credit must be given to David here – his hand-written vocal score has only a small number of errata!)

Lionel and myself also spent a good four hours in the Conservatoire Library a couple of weeks ago, proof-reading the orchestral parts before they were issued to the players, making sure that any discrepancies are resolved before the orchestral rehearsals begin, as this will save valuable time. In addition to this, I’ve also been updating my own copy of the Vocal Score, making notes of any alterations, or additional performance directions, so that after this production has ended, the composer and publisher will have a good reference resource for future productions.

Secondly, time has been spent in my studio at home programming the keyboard that I will be using in the pit. In addition to the orchestral piano requirements, I’ve also needed to program additional sounds and effects, some of which need to be relayed to the stage – including a drum-loop that has to be triggered during Act 2! These extra challenges are great fun, and make the project even more rewarding.

Finally, I’d like to say how much I enjoy working with the students here. As an undergraduate student from 2001-2005, I found the atmosphere very friendly and welcoming, and as a member of staff in my 5th year here, I still feel the same. It is a pleasure to be working with a great company – rehearsals are very productive, but also good fun. To be involved in a production that is directed by Keith Warner is a rare opportunity, and I think we are all enjoying working with him. Michael Barry continues to be an invaluable resource, and puts in hours of hard work to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. Finally, I always learn a lot from working alongside Lionel Friend – and this, the 3rd production with him, is no exception. He is a very knowledgeable and talented man, and is without doubt one of the best musicians that I’ve worked with.

I’m really looking forward to the next 4 weeks, especially when we move into the Crescent Theatre, which will be a really exciting time.

Ben Kennedy