Monday, January 30, 2006

I am the very model...

Humor, religious commentary, Gilbert and Sullivan...this link has something for everyone!

I am the very model of a model Unitarian.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Last run-out

Yesterday was the last day of the Mozart Coronation Mass run-out. Someone pointed out that it was the last run-out I would go on - there are no more symphonic performances scheduled for this year, and then I graduate. So, I quite possibly have sung on the stage of Lincoln Center for the last time. Kind of sad!

All three performances went quite well. The New York Times gave us a fine review, and at the end of last night's performance Maazel turned around and gave us a hand, which was pretty nifty. It was also a special run-out because it was Prof. L's debut preparing Symphonic Choir. It was very cool watching her up there taking a bow next to Maazel.

I can't say I'll miss the bus rides to New York, or the Heavenly Ham boxed lunches and dinners, or the chorus room backstage at Lincoln Center. (The chorus room of Avery Fisher Hall is the most awful small thing you've ever seen - sticking 75 singers in there is just bedlam, and guaranteed to fray your nerves.) But I will miss Rich, our crazy stand-up-comedian bus-driver, and spontaneous little moments like singing Happy Birthday to Mozart at the end of Friday's bus ride home. And most of all I'll miss getting perform at a professional level with a major orchestra. Here's hoping it happens sometime again soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mozart Requiem with Labadie

Last week was taken up with a run-out, which is Westminster slang for getting on a bus and going somewhere (usually New York, Newark, or Trenton) for a series of rehearsals and performances with an orchestra. Last week was the Mozart Requiem with Bernard Labadie and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. I enjoyed working with Labadie a lot - he was extremely efficient, moved very quickly, and was quite clear and demanding about what he wanted, all of which are qualities I highly prize in conductors. The choir was a combination of the Westminster Choir and Williamson Voices, and I must say, it was a really extraordinary choir. It was one of the (many) occasions here at Westminster when I got into the dress rehearsal, heard the spectacular sound we were making, and kicked myself for forgetting to invite anyone to the concert.

If you wish for a second opinion, there is a review up at I don't know for how long the link will be good, but enjoy reading it while it's up there!

This week is another run-out, with the Symphonic Choir joining Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic. Look into getting tickets if you're in the area - there are performances Thursday, Friday, and Saturday!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Concert post, #1

Brand new semester! Brand new stress! Classes don't start until next week, but you'd never know it from the amount of work I already have piled up.

The culmination of the Masters in Choral Conducting is my recital. I have three weeks to rehearse a choir (or a choir plus several smaller groups) and put together a recital with approximately 50 minutes of music on it. The first stage of this, of course, is to decide what my repertoire will be. I had thought I had a pretty challenging bunch of repertoire lined up, and although I had made my final decisions quite late (over winter break) I thought I was pretty much done. I've moved on to working on learning all the music.

I just met with my advisor and one of the other conducting faculty, and hey presto - it appears I only have 42 minutes of music, and they feel I ought to have another piece in there. So now I get to hunt around for another piece, and also learn it in a week and a half.

For me, learning a piece involves:

Being able to sing all the parts (SATB, plus sing whatever instrumental parts there are)
Play the piano part
Being able to sing any part and play any other part on the piano, at the same time
Translate the text, and know what every word means
Pronounce the text correctly
Conduct the piece
Conduct the piece while singing any part

This isn't just me being thorough. I will be required to do all these things at my jury, which is where the faculty decide whether or not I'm ready to begin rehearsals by testing my knowledge of the music. The jury is next Friday.

The current front-runner for my new piece is Britten's Wedding Anthem, with Bartok's 4 Slovak Folk Songs also in the running. Stay tuned for further repertoire updates!

Friday, January 20, 2006

the Honda Civic Choir

Even if you're not in the market for a car, check out this Honda ad. Trust me, you'll be glad you did!