The Russian folk music played by the SBO usually conjures up images of cold weather; troika sleighs travelling through icy landscapes, frozen lakes and forests with temperatures plunging lower than -20C degrees.
So on 26th of October last year, the SBO members anxiously thumbed through the weather Apps on their iPhones, as the air conditioned bus headed into the Hunter Valley. Our destination was the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Singleton, and hot weather was forecast.
On arrival, Jan Fallding the organiser, said “Please make sure you shut all doors behind you, the Convent is nice and cool inside. We want to keep it that way for as long as possible.”
Our concert was to be held in the chapel, with its marble floors & high ceilings. It was still cool inside. Just!
But on days like this doors must be left open. The audience has to queue,come in and sit down. The air cannot avoid flowing in. Put that together with body heat & fiery Russian music and it wasn’t long before the heat was literally ‘on’.
“When I was singing ‘Galloping Troika’, it was with difficulty that I could seriously imagine sleighs swishing across the icy steppes and horses hooves whipping up the snow. It just didn’t feel right,” said SBO tenor, and former Moscow resident; Vladimir Shvedov, with sweat pouring down his face.
“This bears no relationship to my up-bringing in Voronezh, not far from the Volga river when the temperature often plunges below -30C”, said domra player Tanya Jephtha
“I always knew these costumes were never designed for this climate”, said bass domra player Patrick O’Neill, as he thought of Northern Ireland and tried to read his music through fogged up glasses.
Others used more colourful language to describe the heat. When we got outside, we all saw why. It was 41C degrees, our hottest concert ever.