Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Academy Chamber Choir of Uppsala

This evening, the Academy Chamber Choir of Uppsala, Sweden came and performed Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil at Bristol Chapel. It was quite wonderful. Despite arriving only yesterday, they used the space extremely well, doing some pieces surrounding the audience, the first piece from the back, and using different lighting and standing arrangements. They had a wonderful, blended, sincere sound. The conductor, Stefan Parkman, was fabulous - he has a very physical style of conducting, where he really digs down into the sound. Everyone seemed to love what they were doing - they got a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.

Especially now, when I am working so hard to make my own concert come together, it was nice to sit on the audience's side for once!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fuma Sacra concert

For anyone in the Delaware or New York City area, there is going to be a fabulous concert this weekend near you. Fuma Sacra, a professional early-music ensemble led by Dr. Megill, will be performing a Handel concert this weekend, and I strongly urge you to check it out! I heard their Christmas concert, and it was one of the most excellent concerts I've ever been to.

Works performed will include Handel's Dixit Dominus (quite a pyrotechnic work) and "Choice of Hercules."

Christ Church Christiana Hundred
Buck Road East
Wilmington, DE 19807
8 pm
Tickets: $22

St. Peter's Church
Second and Market Streets
Lewes, DE 19958
7:30 pm
Tickets: $15

Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church
82nd and Broadway
Manhattan, NY, NY
3 pm
Tickets: Yes

Monday, February 13, 2006

Concert post, #3

I have very happy to announce that the Tavener piece got here safe and sound from England. I have thirty copies in my hot little hands as we speak, and I'll be giving them to the choir tomorrow. Thank goodness that's all settled!

The first rehearsal was today. It went OK - I have some wonderful singers - but I sure do have a lot to work on in the next three weeks. At the top of my list is being more demanding, perfectionist, and assertive. I have a hard time telling people, "No, that's wrong!" It's not exactly something one is trained to do in everyday life.

That's all I have time to say right now, but for more on this topic, see my essay in Dr. Jordan's book. Hint, hint.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Musician's Walk

This is a somewhat belated announcement, but Dr. James Jordan's most recent book, The Musician's Walk, has been published, and yours truly contributed a chapter. If you are interested in musical or artistic philosophy, you might enjoy it. My chapter was on the phenomenon of women's tendency to apologize for everything, and how that impacts conducting.

If you are only interested in reading my chapter, then I'd be happy to lend my copy to you. I also have a few extra copies sent to me by the publisher, so if you are willing to pay postage, I'd be happy to send a book to the first one or two commenters. However, you'll have to wait until my concert is over before I have time to wrap them up and walk over to the post office!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

King's Singers review

I just returned from a King's Singers concert, given at McCarter Theater in Princeton. There was a schedule lying around in the Graduate Assistant office this morning, and I happened to pick it up and glance through it. I noticed that the King's Singers were singing tonight! So, despite vast amounts of work I ought to be doing, I decided to be spontaneous, and ran down to the theater this evening and took in their concert.

They were fabulous, as always. A tight-knit ensemble, but very individually expressive - real chamber music. One of the charming things about the King's Singers is that they never sound like anyone else. In the first half, where they sang some madrigals, a set by Estonian Cyrillus Kreek, and some Spanish Renaissance music, the tuning was not as impeccable as I might have liked, possibly owing to fairly new counter-tenor Robin Tyson, who doesn't yet have quite the beautiful flexibility and ease in his voice that David Hurley does. He occasionally sounded like he was pushing upwards rather than floating. But any quibbles disappeared in the second half, where the group performed two works they commissioned by Jackson Hill and Takemitsu, which were stunning, and their signature popular rep, which is just the tightest sound you can imagine.

One of the great things about the King's Singers is that they maintain a sense of humor while never sacrificing the quality of the music. They are entertainers as well as consummate musicians, one reason for their popularity. Possibly my new favorite in the group is tenor Paul Phoenix, who danced a little during the Spanish Renaissance music. Watching someone boogie down to Renaissance music gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and reminded me of my old college group the Williams Elizabethans. He also had a few stunning solos, in particular during one of the Spanish pieces called Rodrigo Martinez, and during the Beatles' Blackbird. Chris Gabbitas had a lovely baritone solo during Billy Joel's Only A Woman. Philip Lawson had only one extremely brief solo, which was sad - I would have liked to hear him highlighted more. Although I picked on Tyson earlier, he and David Hurley had a wonderful high sound together, and Stephen Connolly held down the low end of things with flair. Their encore was an Italian version of "Old MacDonald", which inspired equal parts laughter and awe - the perfect blend of their talents.

And really, David Hurley bleating "maa" like a sheep is the cutest thing I've heard all year.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Concert post, #2

I sent 41 e-mails today. I just counted, and I'll probably send some more before the day is done. Some of them were arranging meetings with undergraduate conducting students for my graduate assistantship; others were to members of various choirs I'm trying to assemble, for both my and other people's upcoming concerts; some (but not many) were just the normal interactions with friends and family. My point is, a lot of time has to get sunk into administration when you're a conductor!

I had my hearing last Friday, and I passed, meaning the conducting faculty are satisfied with how well I know the music. However, they aren't satisfied with the expressiveness of my conducting, and made it clear I have a lot of work to do in the next month. I have my first meeting with my advisor tomorrow to address this issue.

But since I passed my hearing, the concert program is as follows:

Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich? by Schütz
La Nuit Froide et Sombre by Lassus
Waldesnacht by Brahms
Calme des Nuits by Saint-Saëns
Wedding Anthem by Britten
Village Wedding by Tavener
Cocktail by Mike Veloso
Heart, We Will Forget Him by Ashi Day
Jefferson from the Sacred Harp Hymnal
The Boatmen's Dance by Copland, arr. Fine
Good News arr. Dawson
Rhapsody of New York by Gerschwin, arr. Wright

That is, that was the concert program until I got an e-mail yesterday, informing me that Village Wedding is back-ordered, and it may not come in time for the performance. So I don't know what's going to happen with that. One idea is to go to inter-library loan and try to get 30 copies of the piece to Westminster. I'll have to call the publisher tomorrow. Stay tuned, because the drama never stops!