Monday, September 06, 2004

The first week

So, the first week of classes is over! I have had all my classes. And thankfully, I have today off.

I had two auditions this week as well, one for the Williamson Voices, which is conducted by James Jordan, and will be doing a great deal of premieres and recording this year. The other is the Westminster Choir, which is still conducted by Joe Flummerfelt, and is currently considered the most elite chorus on campus. (He is officially retired, but will still be doing some work with the college this year, most notably for me in the area of conducting masterclasses.) They meet at the same time, so I can't be in both ensembles, but hopefully I will get into one or the other.

The two other ensembles I'm in are Jubilation (the introductory level of the Jubilee Singers) and Symphonic Choir. I am still unsure about what to expect from Jubilation. The first rehearsal was all work on getting us to lose our inhibitions about how we thought we should act, mostly. So he had people get up in front of the class and imitate their favorite rock stars, for instance. Interesting - was I that repressed and fearful about looking like an idiot when I was a freshman? - but I'm not sure what sort of music we'll be doing. Perhaps tomorrow I'll go to the library and get out one of their CDs.

Symphonic Choir is fine. I think Prof. Megill is a little worried about keeping everyone up to the standards that Prof. Flummerfelt set, b/c he's a teddy bear when teaching class, but moves very briskly in rehearsal, and doesn't hide his annoyance when we don't keep up. Related to that, I had also hoped that Symphonic Choir would be a little more on the ball. It would appear that (as usual in my choral experiences) I'm quicker on the update than my neighbors. I wonder if this will ever again not be the case. Perhaps if I get into the Westminster Choir (cross your fingers!) Then again, I suppose, as a conductor, it's part of my job to be quicker on the uptake than everybody else. But I had rather hoped to be overwhelmed and awed by the Symphonic Choir experience, and intimidated by the expertise of my neighbors. As it is, I am merely deafened (one thing must be said, I have never in my life sung with people who produced such an enormous sound! Even Jubilee Singers left my head buzzing.)

Choral Literature, Choral Conducting 1, and Conducting Lab are all taught by Professor M, who I like very much. They all have approximately the same people in them - the choral conducting crowd. Composition class is mostly (perhaps all) undergraduates, a great many of whom appear to be loud adolescent boys who think they are very amusing. I don't feel very bonded to the class right now, but as we all listen to each others' compositions, I'm hoping this will change. I'm auditing The Operas of Mozart, which interesting, but in the deadly post-lunch hour when sleep raises its siren call. I'm also auditing Diction, which is hugely easy, but also will be hugely useful, I think.

That's pretty much it. As Prof. M said to me, most of the work here will be in rehearsal, as this is a conservatory, and the academics will not be as hard as what I'm used to, coming out of a physics major at Williams. Which is just fine by me.

I'm also gaining confidence that there will be good people here to make friends with. AN, a fellow first-year choral conductor, is sharp and funny, and SJ, another first-year choral conductor who just finished a masters here in vocal performance, has also been really friendly and kind. SJ took me to Wegman's yesterday - I'm so glad I finally found a grocery store I'm happy with in the area! All the small close stores are hugely expensive, and the supermarket down Harrison has rather wilted produce, as well as being moderately expensive as well. It's Wegman's for me! I shall have to figure out how to bike there.

Saturday, SJ and I had a picnic, with a couple of other people, and talked the afternoon away. Saturday evening I went to see Vanity Fair with a couple people from the picnic (I don't recommend the movie, by the way - not painful to watch, but very meandering.) I've also been hanging out with my Australian roommate, LG - on Friday we watched The Philadelphia Story and yesterday we watched City of God, a pair of movies that couldn't be more different from each other, and both of which I highly recommend.

Other than that, I've been correcting undergraduate theory homework for my graduate assistantship, and working on cleaning my room. Speaking of which, it's time to continue the work!

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