Saturday, December 29, 2007

First Night

One more quick tip before I nip out of town. If you are staying in Boston, don't miss First Night, a celebration of the arts all over the city. There are mini-concerts all over the city at all times - it's like musical dim sum! To check out the listings, go to the First Night Boston site.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Revels!

I just had the enormous enjoyment of seeing the Christmas Revels. One of the nice perks of working for The Boston Cecilia is that as a member of ArtsBoston, we occasionally get e-mails alerting us to free ticket offers for ArtsBoston members. Usually I can't take advantage of these because they are sent out almost the day of the performance, usually at the end of a run. However, yesterday I got a note that ArtsBoston members could pick up free tickets to the Christmas Revels, so tonight I took my parents.

It was great fun, as it always is. The Christmas Revels happens every year in Sanders Theatre (and other places in other states) and is a winter solstice singing/dancing/story-telling performance that focuses on a different area of the world each year. This year was the year of the Balkans. It was very well done, very tight and well-paced, and hugely enjoyable. Special props go to Libana's singing, which really had the proper gritty thrilling Balkan's women sound; the dancers, and most especially lead dancer and choreographer Petar Petrov, who were exuberant, and had fascinating feet; the mummers, especially Sarah Hebert-Johnson as Room and the aptly named Rowan Swanson as the Tree of Life, both of whom were very charming actors; and last but not least narrator Debra Wise, who was just incredibly charismatic and wonderful in all ways. There are some people whom you just love to watch on stage. A quick Google search shows that she is the artistic director of the Underground Railway Theater, about which I currently know nothing, but if it means seeing her perform, I will definitely look into learning more.

My one complaint is that since Revels started out very firmly rooted in the English solstice tradition, they feel the need to incorporate certain elements of that tradition every year, and I found the juxtaposition of Balkan and English a little awkward. The main Balkan section flowed so well that to suddenly have Morris dancers appear, or to have the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, or to be singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" at the beginning of the performance did not really work for me. I do recognize that there are certain things that people look forward to every year, and that it would be hard for Revels to cut out, say, "The Lord of the Dance" that traditionally ends the first half. But I do wish that we could have sung some Balkan carols at the beginning instead of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas."

However, that was my only quibble, and it was a minor one, and was about programming, not performances, which were uniformly excellent. You have two more days, so if you have time, I heartily recommend this year's Revels!

And now, I am off to my own traditional New Year's celebration in the Berkshires, so won't be posting until next year. I wish you all splendid New Year's celebrations of your own - Wolcum Yole!

Weekend Concert Eh, 12/28/07

Well, I'm a day late with the weekend concert calendar, but since the offerings are thin, I doubt the lack of timely information really hurt anybody's musical plans, eh?

You can still go see the Christmas Revels. I highly recommend it this year, having just been myself! And Boston Baroque is ringing in the new year with performances of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Bach's Wedding Cantata on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 8 pm and Tue Jan 1, 2008 at 3 pm.

And...that's it! Never fear, the very first weekend of the new year will feature some very exciting offerings, including yours stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Auditions in January

Merry Boxing Day to all! If you celebrated Christmas, I hope it was happy and bright; if you did not, I hope you had a splendid winter's day.

For those of you looking to sing with someone, January is the second prime time of the year (after August/September) for auditions. The Back Bay Chorale is having auditions, and they are a splendid group to sing with (Mark, that means you!); more auditions can be found if you keep your eye on the Greater Boston Choral Consortium website. And if you are a second alto or a tenor, The Boston Cecilia just might be interested in hearing you as well.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar PS

But wait! If you are willing to branch out from choral music, you have another stellar concert option on Saturday evening!

My father (who is the father of not only one, but two stellar bloggers of future renown) is a member of the New England Brass Band (NEBB for short.) They are a stellar brass ensemble based in the Boston area, and directed by Douglas Yeo, who plays bass trombone for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 2006, they won the Honors division of the North American Brass Band Championships.

Second only to choirs, of course, few ensembles are as evocative of the Christmas season as brass ensembles. On Saturday at 7 pm at the Free Christian Church, 31 Elm St, Andover, MA, they will presenting a holiday concert that is sure to be tight, tuned, and generally terrific. Hope to see you there!

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/20/07

Whew. Well, if you are in Boston, we are honestly getting to the weather point where I can't blame you if you stay inside and bake cookies all weekend instead of hearing some choral music. However, if you are a hardier soul than I (or just are a total weirdo who actually likes snow) here are some options! There are some very fine concerts this week, so it is probably worth your while to put on your snow pants.

First of all, I just trudged out to Andover for a rehearsal in a snowstorm, so all I can say is that it sure would be nice if people heard the performance! On Sunday at 5 pm, the choir of Christ Church in Andover (plus me!) under the direction of Barbara Bruns will be presenting a Lessons and Carols at 5 pm, which will include a full performance of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols. This is a reschedule from last week, when it had to be cancelled due to (surprise!) a snowstorm. It's really sounding quite beautiful, and Barbara is a very careful and subtle conductor, who really gets good things out of her choir. Plus, I have a four-bar solo! Sunday, 5 pm, Christ Church in Andover - directions are here.

My other pick for the week is definitely the Blue Heron concert on Saturday. Blue Heron is a professional Renaissance choir, and although I've never had the delight of hearing them myself (and won't this Saturday either) their reputation is for truly stunning performances. They are our very own local Tallis Scholars, although I suspect they might be even better. They will be performing a program called "A Medieval English Christmas and a Burgundian New Year" on Saturday at 8 pm at the First Church in Cambridge (the Congregational one.) Details are on their elegant and navigable website.

And, working backwards in time (we've already covered Sunday and Saturday) my pick for Friday night would be the Chorus pro Musica concert conducted by Lisa Graham at 8 pm at Old South Church in Copley Square. It is late and I am tired, so I will just quote directly from their press release: "
Celebrate the mystery and joy of the season with this concert of elegant and festive music, including the Christmas Cantata by Boston composer Daniel Pinkham for chorus and brilliant brass. The program includes the sublime "Let all mortal flesh keep silence," set by Gustav Holst, and Morten Lauridsen's "O magnum mysterium." Keeping with long tradition, there will be a candlelight procession and opportunities for the audience to join in singing carols. Joining the chorus for this concert will be the New England Conservatory Children's Chorus (Jean Meltaus, Director) and the Riverside Brass Quartet."

What else is on this weekend? Not a whole lot, especially compared to last week. I think this is because most musicians are frantically scurrying around trying to prepare for all their Christmas services this week. In fact, there are pretty much no other options for Friday and Saturday, so it's a good thing that your one option for each night is so stellar! A few more on Sunday...


On Sunday at 7 pm at the First Congregational Church in Camden, you can hear Saint-Saens' Christmas Oratorio (which I am fascinated by, b/c I haven't heard of this piece.) I couldn't find many details, but there is an address and phone number on this website.

If you are out west, then on Sunday at 7 pm at St. John's Episcopal Church in Northampton you can join a Messiah sing! Hosted by Commonwealth Opera - details on their website.

Monday evening, of course, features tons of beautiful services at every church anywhere, but one choice is to hear Pinkham's Christmas Cantata at the Lessons and Carols service at King's Chapel on Tremont Street at 10:30 pm.

Monday, December 17, 2007

G&S Medical spoof

Via friend AN, we have a Gilbert and Sullivan patter-song on, what else, psychopharmacology. (Thank goodness for subtitles is what I have to say!)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Caroling Mob

I believe it got a bit hidden in the mass of choralocity I listed yesterday, but I just wanted to highlight the Caroling Mob (who are organized enough to have their own website.) On Sunday at 4 pm, you can join Joel Sindelar and the Loose Canon Chorale at the Stony Brook T-stop, and then wander around JP singing to people, ending up with warm drinks (don't forget to bring a mug!) Haven't you always wanted to really, truly wassail someone? I'll be up in Andover singing Britten - that means someone should appoint themselves my deputy and go sing and then tell me how it is!

This of course brings to mind the following exchange from Ruddigore:

Mad Margaret: But see, they come – Sir Despard and his evil crew! Hide, hide – they are all mad – quite mad!
Rose: What makes you think that?
Mad Margaret: Hush! They sing choruses in public. That’s mad enough, I think!

Raise your glass to a bit of holiday insanity!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/13/07

First off, it should go without saying that you are NOT TO GO ANYWHERE tonight if you live in Boston. Everything is cancelled anyways, so just bake some cookies, brew some tea, and listen to a DVD of The Messiah or something.

However, on Friday, the fun begins! It's December in Boston, which means that there is more choral music than you can shake a stick at, so I will just give you the bare bones of each concert. Buckle your seatbelts - this will take a while!

My (non-choral) pick for Friday is friend Josh Lawton, who will present an organ concert at Church of the Holy Name in West Roxbury at 8:00 pm. He says, "The program will last a little over an hour, and will include the complete Nativité du Seigneur, Olivier Messiaen's first big programmatic cycle for organ, and probably his most popular as well. The concert will be free, with donations accepted at the door." He's a very good organist, and has a distinct flair for concert programming - come on by!

Also on Friday, December 14:

5:30 pm at the Church of the Advent in Boston, the Choirs of St. Paul's School present Lessons and Carols.

6:00 pm at Marsh Chapel at BU, the Marsh Chapel Choirs present a Lessons and Carols service.

7:30 pm at Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, the Vienna Boys Choir is in town!

7:30 pm (also at 3:00 and 7:30 on Saturday, and 3:00 on Sunday) the Indian Hill Music School Opera Workshop presents Amahl and the Night Visitors at the Camilla Blackman Hall, 36 King Street, Littleton, MA.

7:30 pm (also Saturday at 7:30) at Jordan Hall, Boston Baroque presents Handel's Messiah.

7:30 pm at St. Andrew's Episcopal in Wellesley, the SAPAS men's chorus and Katherine Evans present An Evening with Brahms.

8:00 pm at the First Church in Cambridge, The Boston Camerata presents A Renaissance Christmas.

8:00 pm at the Tabernacle Church in Salem, MA, The Paul Madore Chorale presents A Concert for Christmas: Gabrieli, Charpentier and Pinkham.

And starting on Friday and going through the end of the month, The Christmas Revels returns to Sanders Theater!

My pick for Saturday is The Back Bay Chorale. On Saturday at 8:00 pm at Emmanuel Church in Boston, Scott Allen Jarrett will lead the chorale in A Boston Christmas - The Christmas Cantata by Daniel Pinkham plus holiday selections. They will repeat the program on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 3:00 pm at Marsh Chapel on the BU campus.

Also on Saturday, December 15:

2:00 pm at the Arlington Street Church in Boston, the Boston Gay Men's Chorus presents a Family Holiday Matinee.

4:00 pm at Chapel of St. Joseph College, West Hartford, CT (a hike, but probably worth it!) the women of Concora present Britten's Ceremony of Carols and other Christmas music. I don't know anything about this group, but they look pretty cool.

4:00 pm at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston, the Trinity Church Choirs present Candlelight Carols. Again at 7 pm on Sunday. (There is also a benefit concert on Sunday at 4 pm.)

4:30 pm at St. Johns Episcopal Church in Charlestown, there will be an Advent Service of Lessons and Carols.

7:30 pm at Rogers Center for the Arts, Merrimack College, North Andover, The New England Classical Singers presents Wassail! Wassail! A program of traditional English Carols, Renaissance Works, and Christmas Spirituals.

7:30 pm at Christ Lutheran Church on Falmouth, the Solstice Singers present "O Sing of Light." (Repeats on Sunsay at 4 pm.)

And my pick for Sunday is me! I will be joining a performance of Britten's Ceremony of Carols at Christ Church in Andover. Come on by!

Or go and join the Christmas Caroling Mob at 4 pm at the Stony Brook T-stop! Serenade Jamaica Plain!

Also on Sunday:

I don't think I caught this one in my Messiah-sing round-up. 1:30 pm at the Performing Arts Center, 51 Walden St., Concord Center, MA, the Concord Orchestra will play some Handel and Bach, and then host a Messiah sing-along.

3:00 pm at Our Lady's Help of Christians Church, Washington St., Newton, MA, the Newton Community Chorus presents Handel's Messiah.

3:00 at St. Theresa of Avila Church, 2078 Centre St., W. Roxbury, MA, the Choirs of Holy Name and St. Theresa of Avila Parishes present their Annual Advent and Christmas Concert.

3:00 at St. Paul's Church in Harvard Sq., Cambridge, the Boston Boy Choir presents a Carol Festival.

3:00 pm at Jordan Hall, the Handel and Haydn Society's performs Bach's Christmas Oratorio. (You can also hear this on Wed., Dec. 18 at 8 pm at the same place.)

3:30 pm at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, enjoy a choral and handbell concert by students of the school.

4:00 pm at
the Parish of All Saints, 209 Ashmont St., Dorchester, MA, the All Saints Choir of Men and Boys presents The Christmas Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols. This one looks neat - the choir has good credentials.

4:00 pm at the First Unitarian Society in Newton, 1326 Washington St., W Newton, MA, Youth Pro Musica presents their annual winter concert (including Britten's Ceremony of Carols.)

4:00 pm at the Regis College Fine Arts Center, 235 Wellesley St., Weston, MA, Boston's Saengerfest Men's Chorus presents a Christmas Concert with the Worcester Brass Consort.

4:00 pm at Christ Church, Zero Garden St., Cambridge, MA, the Christ Church Choirs present a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

7:00 pm at the Longy School of Music, the Longy Chamber Choir presents Schutz and Bach.

7:00 pm at First Parish of Westwood, the St. Petersburg Men's Ensemble presents Russian sacred and folk music.

And of course, don't forget all those Messiah sings! I didn't list them again here, but the Masterworks sings are also this weekend!

Oh, and do me a favor - if this is useful to you, and you go to one of these concerts, leave me a comment about it!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Messiah Sings

Over a week ago, intrepid reader Carolyn asked about local Messiah Sings. Some have already happened, but here is what’s left (with thanks to my dad for clueing me in to many of them.)

This Thursday, December 13, you can join the 36th Annual Messiah Sing at Harvard University’s Dunster House. From their website: “Everybody is invited to join us in this year's Messiah Sing on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 8:00 pm in the Dunster dining hall with the Mozart Society Orchestra and splendid undergraduate soloists. You, the audience members, sing the choir parts, or you can just sit and listen. Scores and refreshments will be provided. It's a great event and always a lot of fun. Don't miss it!!” A note says, “You can enter through the G-entryway on the Cowperthwaite street side of the building.” Here is an approximate Google map (I made up the number 5, but it’s a short street, and the maps shows you where it is.) Scores available.

I can personally vouch for the Messiah Sings annually hosted by the Masterworks Chorale, having enjoyed several of them in past years. They will host two, Friday, December 14 and Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 8:00 pm at Cary Hall, 1605 Mass Avenue, Lexington. Scores available. If you only go to one Messiah sing, I’d probably choose this one (but then, I’m from Lexington!)

Also on Friday, December 14, at 7:30 pm the Wakefield First Congregational Church will host a Messiah Sing (Part I and the Hallelujah Chorus.) The address is 1 Church St, Wakefield, MA. Scores available.

On Sunday, December 16 at 7:30 pm, the Powers Music School in Belmont is hosting a Messiah Sing at the Payson Park Church, 365 Belmont Street in Belmont. Here is the website for Belmont Open Sings. Scores available.

Also on Sunday, December 16, at 3:30 pm, the Assabet Valley Mastersingers are hosting a Messiah Sing at Trinity Church, 23 Main St. in Northborough.

Also on Sunday, December 16, at 5 pm, the Harvard UU church (of Harvard, MA, that is) is hosting a Messiah sing. (Some) details are available both on the site and the church website.

On Wednesday, December 19 at 12:15 pm (wacky time, but take a long lunch!) there will be a Messiah sing at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 138 Tremont St. in Boston. EDIT: They provide scores if you don't have one of your own. Thanks to intrepid reader My Dad for the tip!

And if you just want to hear the Messiah, the Cambridge Community Chorus will oblige you with a performance this Sunday, December 16, at 3 pm at Kresge Auditorium, MIT, 84 Mass. Ave, Cambridge. Boston Baroque, Phillips Academy, and the Newton Community Chorus are also willing to oblige you – details on their websites.

NY Phil to visit North Korea

Well, well, well. The New York Philharmonic is going to head over to North Korea in February. Maybe they'll all make a movie together!

Twelve Days of Christmas, A Cappella Style

I'm happy to say the Boston Cecilia concerts went well, even though yesterday I lost my voice and had to manage the concert with no vocal chords. (And by the way, what is up with the fact that everybody starting signing things at me? Or mouthing? I lost my voice, not my hearing! Just because I'm gesticulating at you and whispering doesn't mean you need to return the favor. Oy.) I am very grateful to Boston Cares for providing ushers, one of whom was nice enough to stand around and be my voice.

Anyways, a little Advent treat. From friend RB, Straight No Chaser performs their version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/6/07

I am sorry to say that yours truly has come down with a nasty case of the flu, the highlight of which is an extremely swollen throat, not to mention fever, chills, aches, exhaustion, etc. So, you will not be getting your usual thorough review of the local choral offerings for this weekend. You will only get three, for which I feel a distinct personal attachment.

High on your priority list is The Boston Cecilia's holiday concert, called O Magnum Mysterium. This will be on Friday (tomorrow!) December 7 at Church of the Advent in Beacon Hill at 8 pm, and also on Sunday, December 9 at All Saints Parish in Brookline at 3 pm. The chorus will be singing some really beautiful, spiritual music by Britten, Tavener, Victoria, and more. If you went to my graduate conducting recital, you will recognize at least one piece - Village Wedding by John Tavener. This is going to be a very beautiful, ethereal concert. Friends AG and JL will be singing in the chorus. And on Friday, my dad will be conducting one of the pieces! My parents both came to Cecilia's gala last fall, and my dad bid on, and won, the chance to conduct Cecilia. It's his conducting debut - come support him! (On Sunday, I will be conducting the same piece - since it's the only accompanied piece on the program, and the conductor is accompanying it, she needed another conductor for Sunday's performance. I think she appreciated the symmetry.)

That leaves your Saturday free. You have two options. (Well, you probably have a billion, because it's December in Boston, but I'm going to inform you of two.)

The Cambridge Madrigal Singers, featuring friend JS, will be performing “Rise Up, Shepherd: Renaissance and Contemporary Christmas Music.” They will be singing Saturday December, 8th at 8 p.m. at the Harvard Epworth United Methodist Church , 1555 Massachusetts Ave , Cambridge. They will also be singing Sunday, December 9th at4 p.m. at the Lindsey Chapel at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St. , Boston. Tickets are $18; $12 for students and seniors. More information is here. I used to sing with this group, and I remember always getting to do interesting programs. I am going to try and get to the concert, but it rather depends on how I'm feeling.

Also, the Oriana Consort, directed by the delightful and energetic Walter Chapin, will be singing on Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 8:00 pm at the First Lutheran Church of Boston. More information, as well as the program, can be found here.

I am now off to order some takeout and climb back into bed. Wish me luck getting through two concerts to manage, not to mention a rehearsal on Saturday morning, this weekend!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/29/07

It's Thursday! Time to see how you should spend your weekend! In no particular order...

First and foremost, both because it's cool, and I think perhaps it has not been well advertised, the Longwood Symphony and New World Chorale will perform Janacek's Glagolitic Mass. Jordan Hall, Saturday at 8 pm. I am very sorry I am already tied up on Saturday, because this ought to be awesome. For more information on this piece, (hang on while I scan Google)...well, I can't find anything great in under a minute, so check out this review from the New York Times, and perhaps I will post a little cliff notes to this piece at a later date.

It is after Thanksgiving, and that means your holiday concert season has begun. Start things off with a bang by seeing Handel and Haydn perform Messiah at Symphony Hall! Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 3:00 pm, and Sunday at 3:00 pm.

On Friday and Sunday, the Boston Choral Ensemble is performing a concert called Madrigalia. This looks pretty cool, I must say. Friday at 8 at First Church Cambridge, and Sunday at 2 at the Church of St. John the Evangelist.

On Friday at 8 pm, the most excellent and esteemed (he's the director at the church where I sing!) Jonathan Barnhart leads the Dedham Chorale in A German Christmas. Check it out at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston. They will perform the same program on Sunday at 3 pm in Dedham.

On Friday at 8 pm, the Arlington-Belmont Chamber Chorus presents "A Not Quite Winter Concerts" - music of Guerrero, Chatman, Barber, and Walker. Check it out at the Payson Park Church in Belmont.

On Saturday at 7:30, Polymnia Choral Society will perform "Midnight Mass for Christmas" by Marc-Antoine Charpentier as well as a set by Emma Lou Diemer. Charpentier is definitely one of those "greatest composers you've never heard of" people, so do make a point of trying to hear some of his music. (His struggles with the composer Lully are worth recounting at some point. Perhaps later this week...stay tuned.) That will be at the First Congregational Church in Melrose.

On Saturday at 8 pm, the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus under Kevin Leong will perform some honking big Handel works at Sanders Theater. Who doesn't love honking big Handel, especially done as well as it undoubtably will be?

On Saturday at 8 pm, Musica Sacra under Mary Beekman will perform Bach's Magnificat at First Church Congregational in Harvard Square. Handel or Bach? Your life is tough.

On Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 4 at Old South United Methodist Church in Reading Center, the Reading Community Singers will perform a holiday concert called "Winter Wonders."

(I am already exhausted and we're not even at Sunday yet!)

On Saturday at 8 pm you can hear Beethoven's Choral Fantasy performed by the Northeastern University Choral Society at the Fenway Center.

Not quite choral, but on Saturday at 4 pm First Parish in Wayland presents Amahl and the Night Visitors. More info here.

Also not quite choral, but still worth mentioning - on Saturday at 7 pm at Longy, Robert Honeysucker, baritone, with Leslie Amper, pianist, perform American songs. More info here.

(Dear Lord, the list for Saturday is neverending!)

If you're near Brandeis on Saturday, go hear some Britten! If you're in Arlington, how about checking out a concert with Lorna Cooke deVaron? If you're in Worcester, go hear the Messiah! If you want to stay in Worcester through Sunday, you can hear more Handel (Judas Maccabaeus!)

On Sunday at 5 pm at Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge, the Oriana Consort will perform In This Tyme of Chrystmas: Advent and Christmas choral music from the 17th, 20th, and 21st centuries, featuring works by Betinis, Buxtehude, Byrd and Vaughan Williams. Abbie Betinis is a very cool composer from MN. Also, I sing with her sister in Cappella Clausura!

On Sunday at 3 pm at First Parish UU Arlington, Cantilena is performing "Sing Me to Heaven: A Winter Concert."

I'm also going to give a shout-out to Juventas, even though they're not choral, because we like to support new music in this corner of the blogosphere. Friday, 8 pm, Boston Conservatory.

Finally, if all this is making you want to sing yourself, there will be an open sing by the Zamir Chorale on Sunday at 3 pm in Newton. Temple Reyim, 1860 Washington Street, Newton, MA. Scores are available, and included in the cost of admission, which is $10 ($8 stu/sen). You get to sing both Handel's Judas Maccabaeus and Berstein's Chichester Psalms. A good time! And if Judas Maccabaeus is a little too martial for you in these troubled times, there's a Messiah Sing at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brookline - scores also provided there. (Although you'll still have to listen to the tenor singing about smashing people into little bits like pottery, so violence is hard to avoid.)

Never fear, though. If you want a quiet and peaceful end to your weekend, go to Schola Nocturna's Night Prayer at Parish of the Messiah in Newton. I promise nobody will smash anybody.

The truth is that there is even more exciting stuff than that going on this weekend, but I am just too tired to keep going, so check out the Boston Singer's Resource concert listings for some stuff I might have missed. I may have to make this a sort of "Editor's Picks" weekly thing rather than covering all your possible concert options! I'm too tired to even proof-read this entry. If somebody's made it this far, tell me if there were any typos.

Remember, your motto for concerts at Christmas should be that old chestnut by Edward Everett: "I cannot do everything, But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." So get out there and listen to some music...because after all, the person you are doing it for is yourself!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nick Page

My apologies for not giving a concert update last week. I was out of town, stuffing myself with stuffing. And besides, you were all too comatose with food to even think of leaving the house, right? Right. So we will all just ignore the fact that we missed Chanticleer on Sunday at Jordan Hall, and we are not at all heart-broken about this fact. (I seem to have bad luck actually finding out about Chanticleer concerts in time - I haven't made it to one yet, despite the fact that I adore their recordings.)

Perhaps you will forgive me if I tip you off that Steve Reich is in residence at NEC, and this week will feature two performances. Mostly this is not choral music (although Music for Eighteen Musicians does feature female voices) but Steve Reich is just too cool not to mention, even if this were a blog about knitting or Nascar or something.

And finally, the Boston Globe today had a nice piece about Nick Page, local powerhouse choral conductor. If you ever have the chance to go to one of his power sings, do so - he is one of the most dynamic and charismatic conductors around. And we all wish him well at his Carnegie Hall debut!

Monday, November 19, 2007

RIP Craig Smith

Oh, no! Craig Smith, founder and artistic director of Emmanuel Music, died last Wednesday, Nov. 14, of complications from diabetes. The obituary in the Boston Globe is here.

This is a sad loss - Emmanuel Music is one of the best and most respected groups in Boston, and Craig Smith was a giant of the Boston musical scene. He'll be sorely missed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Schizophonic auditions!

Pinafore ended its run yesterday, and a fine, fine run it was. Massive kudos are due to everyone I got to work with - it was a great experience.

But that was yesterday, and this is today! Time for new projects, new horizons! My professional women's group that I started last spring is having auditions on 12/1 - come one, come all! Here is that ad that I have been sending to everyone I know. Please feel free to copy and forward to everyone you've ever met.

Professional women's vocal group seeks female singers

Schizophonic, a professional women's vocal group, is looking for new singers. Our goal is to sing all sorts of music, ranging from medieval to barbershop. We would like to find other professional classical singers who have an interest in branching out into other genres of music such as folk and jazz, but are also at home picking up something by Josquin or Britten and sight-reading it.

Our plan is to have several concerts a year, where we will split the proceeds, and also to concentrate on putting together shorter programs appropriate for schools. Our goal for school gigs is to have 1-2 a month, and to have each singer paid $100 for each gig. Eventually we hope to get on the Young Audiences roster, and hopefully get even more work that way.

Currently we have one mezzo and one soprano. We would ideally like to form a quartet, with one more mezzo and one more soprano. We are looking for trained solo voices with fantastic musicianship and very sharp sight-reading skills. In terms of vocal size, we are looking for Bach rather than Berlioz. We also hope to find other people who love singing chamber music, and are willing to make a commitment to the group. We are also interested in putting together a guest-artist list of singers who might be interested in one or two gigs if we decide to do something bigger requiring more than four singers. However, our main goal is to find two new permanent members.

Auditions will be December 1st from 10 am - 3 pm. If that time doesn't work for you, please contact us anyways - we'd love to hear everyone, and can be very flexible about setting up individual auditions! Contact Allegra Martin by phone (617) 872-0461 or leave a comment!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/15/07

It's still technically Thursday, and time for the Weekend Choral Concert Calendar!

Well, Friday is looking a little scanty, so perhaps you will have nothing to do. Oh, no, but wait! HMS Pinafore at MIT is still going on! This is your last weekend to see yours truly conducting a G&S classic! Friday at 8 pm and Saturday at 2 pm – details here!

On Saturday, however, you are spoiled for choice. Let’s take a look.

I think my top pick would be the Spectrum Singers. They will be kicking off the Christmas season a little early, it’s true, but just look at the program. "Sound the Trumpets!": A festive celebration of the Christmas season with organ, brass, and percussion. Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms; Schutz's Psalm 150: Alleluia, Lobet dem Herrn, SWV 24; Boulanger's Psaume 24; Daniel Pinkham's Christmas Cantata, and more. A good time, indeed (and they get mad points for performing Boulanger. That would be Lili, btw, the composer sister of the more famous Nadia. She died at a young age, or she might have been better known.) The performance will be at 8 pm at First Church Congregational in Cambridge. More details here.

The Brookline Chorus is performing Carmina Burana! Always a good time! They are doing the two piano version. 8 pm at All Saints Parish in Brookline – more info is here.

The Mystic Chorale, under Nick Page (local choral celebrity!) is performing at 8 pm in Lexington at Cary Memorial Hall. The highlight will be a premiere of a Beatitudes setting by Jonathan Singleton. Support new music! More details here. They will also perform on Sunday at 3:30.

The Newton Choral Society will perform music of Daniel Pinkham at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton at 8 pm. More info is here.

The Cantemus Chamber Chorus is performing at 7:30 pm in Hamilton – works of Pfautsch, Bass, Bach, Górecki, Schuman. (I’ve never even heard of Pfautsch and Bass – a true opportunity to educate yourself in some lesser-known composers! Górecki, if you are unfamiliar, has some great choral pieces.) More info here. They will perform again on Sunday in Newburyport at 4 pm.

And what about Sunday?

My top pick here is for the Sounds of Stow. They will perform Haydn’s Creation at 3 pm in Stow Center. Good things are being said about the soloists, and I was quite impressed at a SoS concert a few years back. And let’s not forget that any brilliant trumpet-playing you here will be my father! More information is here.

I mentioned Cantemus and Mysic above, of course – in addition, you can hear the Fine Arts Chorale at 4 pm in South Weymouth (I know nothing about this group) or the Heritage Chorale at 4 pm at Babson College performing Gabrieli, Bruckner, and Pinkham.

And the weekend ends late – at 8 pm on Sunday the MIT Chamber Chorus will perform in Kresge Auditorium…and this concert is FREE! More information is here.

Also, let’s carry on a little further, shall we? Because ironically, the most highly anticipated event of the weekend falls on Monday night. At 8 pm at Symphony Hall, Thomas Quastoff is performing with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in Boston’s Celebrity Series. I try to only report choral music concerts, b/c it takes enough time to just do that, but hey, this deserves an exception. Hie the over there – tickets are still available! And then on Tuesday, Renée Fleming joins the BSO…I really must stop and get to bed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pinafore opening night

I am pleased to report that the Pinafore opening night went well, and my baton only flew out of my hand once.

Also, I just added a widget from Women's Voices, Women's Vote below. If you, like me, feel bad about missing the most recent local elections , and if you, like me, have moved recently and haven't re-registered yet, get to it! Don't forget that your vote affects arts funding and educational funding. (The latter probably has even more of an impact on music and the arts in general than the former.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pinafore! And Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/8/07

Oh, no! It is technically no longer Thursday, and I haven't yet advised you on what to do this weekend!

Well, I haven't advised because I was at the final dress rehearsal for a production of HMS Pinafore that I am conducting at MIT. So obviously, the top pick for this weekend is Gilbert and Sullivan! The show is running 11/9 and 11/10 at 8 pm, 11/11 at 2 pm, and next weekend, 11/15 and 11/16 at 8 pm, and 11/17 at 2 pm. You can reserve (but not buy) tickets online. And I heartily encourage everyone to come! The leads and chorus are all excellent, and I'm greatly enjoying working with the orchestra. It is an all-amateur production, but it is remarkably tight. (When the female leads are either students or recent grads of Boston Conservatory, you know you're beginning to blur the line of amateur!)

And what is happening in the rest of Boston? Have the cliff-notes version! (We are concentrating on Boston proper here, b/c it is late and I am tired. Apologies to Andover, Fitchburg, and others.)

The Boston Secession

The Cantata Singers
Chorus Pro Musica
Coro Allegro
The Harvard Early Music Society presents Purcell's King Arthur
The Adam Mickiewicz University Academic Choir (at Boston College)
More G&S! The Savoyard Light Opera Company is putting on The Gondoliers!
The University Chorale of Boston College
African Children's Choir (through Celebrity Series of Boston)
Seraphim Singers
Ars et Amici

Why yes, it is a remarkably strong weekend - you noticed that too? In any weekend that features both the Secession and the Cantata Singers, you are spoiled for choice. Throw in two different Gilbert and Sullivan shows, and Chorus Pro Musica, and Seraphim Singers, and it starts getting ridiculous how much good music you can hear.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Complaints Choirs

Now here's something new - Complaints Choirs!

"It all got started during a winter day walk of Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen in Helsinki. Perhaps it was due to the coldness of the day that they ended up discussing the possibility of transforming the huge energy people put into complaining into something else. Perhaps not directly into heat – but into something powerful anyway.

In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression "Valituskuoro". It means "Complaints Choir" and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen thought: "Wouldn´t it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real Complaints Choir!""

And so a movement began.

Scandinavia is a great place for choral music. Apparently it's also a great place for humor!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Location, location

I'm happy to say that the Cappella Clausura concerts this past weekend went very well. However, it was a bit of an education in the effects that location can have on one's performance.

One hears a lot about the difficulties that can arise from performing in a new and different space. I've always been aware of acoustics - places can be live and echoing, or dead and muffled, and sometimes huge acoustic differences can have a very problematic effect on diction, cutoffs, rhythm, etc. In addition, standing can be awkward, places can be too hot, cold, drafty, damp, or dry; sightlines can be messed up; etc, etc. However, I can't previously recall having my comfort level with the music substantially affected.

Well, on Friday we sang in Gordon Chapel at Old South Church, and I was just sloppy. I sang a few wrong words; I missed a cut-off mid-phrase that's a particular pet peeve of mine when other people miss it; I missed the note order on one quick lick of eighth notes. I frequently had flashes of that feeling that occasionally affects musicians everywhere: "Have I really ever seen this music before?" I sincerely doubt any of this was noticeable from the audience - it was really a series of very subtle mistakes - but I felt quite dissatisfied, and wondered what was wrong with me.

On Saturday, we sang in our rehearsal space, the Parish of the Messiah in Newton. I stood in the same place for rehearsal that I've stood for the last several weeks. And presto - I felt comfortable, and strong. No more mistakes. I wasn't the only one, either - the entire concert was much tighter and more confident. It could have been because we'd just done it the night before, but it was also because we felt at home. I didn't realize until Saturday that I had been thrown off-kilter in my music-making by my surroundings on Friday. It's a good thing to learn, and a strong argument, when I conduct and need to make these decisions, for having the dress rehearsal in the performance space.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Weekend concert calendar, 11/1/07

Taking some time out from a busy rehearsal schedule, I bring you the weekend concert calendar!

Obviously, your priority should be the Cappella Clausura concert on Friday at Old South Church at 7:30 pm, and on Saturday at Parish of the Messiah at 8 pm. Eight beautiful women in red singing gorgeous music…how can you resist? Details on the Cappella Clausura website.

If you see Clausura on Friday, then you have some options for the rest of the weekend. The Back Bay Chorale, directed by Scott Jarrett, is going to perform…heck, I’ll just quote from the Boston Choral Consortium website: Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass plus instrumental and choral works by Finzi, Holst, and Herbert Howells' "Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing," an elegy dedicated to the memory of John F. Kennedy. Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston. Tickets: $20 to $45 ($5 discount for students and seniors). Scott is greatly admired as a conductor by all who have sung under him (including me) so this is a concert to be recommended.

Wellesley College is performing Bach’s Magnificat on Saturday at 8:00 pm. The chorus will consist of the Wellesley College Choir, Chamber Singers, and the University of Virginia Men’s Glee Club. At First Church Congregational in Cambridge. More information here.

It must be a good weekend for university choral music, because Brandeis too is getting into the action. On Saturday at 8 pm on the Waltham campus, they will perform works by Palestrina and Bach. This is directed by Jim Olesen, one of my favorite Boston conductors, and the guy who first made me think of seriously trying to becoming a professional conductor myself. More details here. (Info is halfway down the page.)

On Sunday at 3 pm, if you didn’t get enough Poulenc two weeks ago with the Boston Cecilia, you have another chance! Seraphim Singers is performing Poulenc’s Mass in G at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury. More information here. I sang with this group for one concert, and they are ridiculously talented musicians. It is largely a chorus of church musicians who get together and do all the music they love that's too hard for them to do with their church choirs. I sang the hardest piece I've ever sung with them, a piece by Elliott Gyger.

On Sunday at 3 pm, the Masterworks Chorale, directed by Steven Karidoyanes, will perform Schumann’s Mass Op. 147, and Requiem Op. 148. The performance will be in Sanders Theater in Cambridge, which is a great space. More details here.

On Sunday at 4 pm, the Worcester Chorus, under Andrew Clark, will perform sacred works by British and American composers as part of the Worcester Music Festival. More details here.

And finally, if you are out in Westwood this Sunday, there will be a performance of the Faure Requiem at 3 pm at First Parish of Westwood. More details here.

So don't let the threat of Noel spook you! Get out there and support your fabulous, artistic city!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cappella Clausura!

Rehearsals, rehearsals, everywhere! From 10/18 through 11/13 I have a rehearsal or a performance every single day. It's like grad school all over again.

The next one is this Friday and Saturday. Cappella Clausura is presenting our first concert of the season! The Friday concert is at Old South Church in downtown Boston, so all of you people who don't have cars no longer have an excuse for not hopping on the T and coming to see us!

"Sulpitia Cesis and her Consuors"
Friday, November 2nd @ 7:30 PM
Gordon Chapel, Old South Church, Boston

Saturday, November 3rd @ 8:00 PM
Parish of the Messiah, Newton

Tickets are $20, $12 stu/sen, which is pretty cheap for choral tickets in this town. I will be singing solos, so be sure to come!

Also, we have a nifty new website. (Gee, I just noticed I need to update my bio.)

Saturday, October 27, 2007


My parents just took me to see Wicked. It was awesome. I just loved it to pieces, and was so glad I went. It was strong in every possible way. The music was great. The book was amazingly well done. All the performances were solid - there was an excess of talent in every role. The set was great, the costumes were great, the plot was great. It was a musical about a geek girl made wonder it's so popular! Glinda was played by an understudy who was fantastic - special kudos to you, Laura Woyasz. And I just fell in love with Victoria Matlock's Elphaba.

Rather than gush on, I present you with my new favorite song, from the Act I Finale. I couldn't find Victoria Matlock on Youtube, so instead I give you Idina Menzel. I liked Matlock better, I must say!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Weekend concert calendar, 10/25

I understand. You fear the wild turkeys, and want to stay inside this weekend, listening to choral music. Well, worry no more, I am here to tell you where to go!

Top billing this weekend goes to Brahms. On Sunday at 3 pm at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Sir David Willcocks is conducting the Trinity Choir in Brahms' A German Requiem. More information here. (Although Sunday is a busy day, with lots of choral competition, as we will see below!)

If that doesn't satisfy you, it's a good weekend for opera. The Teatro Lirico d'Europa is coming to town this weekend (tonight and tomorrow at 7:30) with a performance of Madama Butterfly. I don't know much about this group, but you can find out much more at the Cutler Majestic Theater website. If that doesn't satiate your desire for opera, you can see the Longwood Opera's production of Die Fledermaus, or the Boston Opera Collaborative's production of The Countess of Seville (yep, you read that right!) And if you skip down to Providence, you can see Opera Providence present an opera about Julia Child!

On Saturday at 8 pm, you can hear a Bach Cantata (#161) and some Rheinberger (who I learned about at Westminster, and who writes really gorgeous Romantic choral music) at the Boston Conservatory in Sully Hall. And it's free! Featuring the Boston Conservatory Chorale and Women's Chorus. Details here.

On Saturday, there is a symposium about spirituals going on at Mass Bay Community College. The only details I can find are on the Boston Singer's Resource, here, so if you're interested, I'd suggested e-mailing or calling the contact information listed.

If you missed Exsultemus last weekend because you were at the Boston Cecilia concert (the only decent excuse, really) then you are in luck, because they are doing a repeat of their program this Saturday at 7:30 pm in Amesbury. Details are here (go to the bottom of the page); directions are here. This group is super-cool, and you should make it a priority to see them. (And I'm not just saying that to brown-nose because I'd love to sing with them. Although isn't that a good recommendation right there?)

Also heartily recommended is the King's Chapel Choir and Soloists, presenting Faure's Requiem, and Daniel Pinkham's Small Requiem, which he wrote as a companion piece to the Faure. Sunday at 5 pm at King's Chapel (at the corner of Tremont and School Streets, Boston.)
Suggested Donation $12; Students and Seniors $8, call 617-227-2155 for more info. (And no, I'm not heartily recommending them because I'd love to sing with them, either. How can you constantly insinuate such things?)

Also on Sunday is the 5th Annual Sing to Cure MS. 3 pm in Arlington - details are here. This is an annual Halloween concert, so if you want your fix of Halloween music (and you want to support a good cause) check it out!

And finally, apparently I mis-reported the "Trombone and Chorus" concert that Master Singers is putting on - it wasn't last weekend, it's this weekend! (See, you get all these second chances this weekend if you missed stuff last weekend.) 4:00 pm in Lexington; details are here. There is a world premiere by Pamela Marshall on the program, so all you new music junkies should check it out! Although be cautious, because I myself have seen wild turkeys in Lexington. Bring a can of cranberry jelly along - if brandishing it at them doesn't work, you can chuck it at their heads. (Which are tiny, so you'd better stop reading blogs, and go practice your aim!)

Did I miss anything? Comment and let me know!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More turkeys!

More on turkeys in the Boston Globe! Thanks to my bird-eyed dad for the link!

Verdi Reqiem

Interested in singing the Verdi Requiem with minimal rehearsals? Read on! (This was sent out to the GBCC listserver, but I got his permission to reprint it here.) Be sure and read all the way to the bottom for information on the Daniel Pearl Foundation "Tribute Series."


Hello GBCC members,

I have a favor to ask, and an opportunity for your singers do do something "grand" that won't take much time for them, or distract them from your group's work. (I did send out this information a few months ago and give my thanks to the many directors who have already passed along the event info. We've had a GREAT response already!)

On January 26th and 27th, I am directing a full performance of Verdi's Requeim in Westford, Mass, as a multi-chorus participation event. At the core, is my Westford Chorus, that has now been in rehearsal for 2 months on this glorious work.

The community singer participation comes in as this:
- Participating singers from other ensembles must agree to attend 3 rehearsals in January, and bring their own score (Schirmer or Kalmus Edition. Peters is okay, but they will be at a disadvantage as to page and rehearsal numbers);
- These singers MUST have sung the Verdi Requiem in "recent memory" and show up pretty much prepared to "polish" (i.e. not "re-learn");
- Concert attire: Women in ankle-length black dress/skirts; Men in black tuxes.
- Singers interested in participating must contact me by email prior to Thanksgiving to get onto the roster and be provided scheduling details, directions, etc.
They can contact me at or call me at 603-465-9150.

At this point, I have about 40 participating singers joining us from Masterworks, Back Bay Chorale, Orpheus, Oriana, Newton, etc., so it's a pretty solid lineup for this massive work.
So, at this point, I have about 110 singers, but, obviously, can accommodate more as the specs call for 500!

The other interesting part of this concert is that it is part of the Daniel Pearl Foundation "Tribute Series" and helps support that organization's work to heal the wounds caused by terrorism. The concert will be dedicated to the life and work of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal writer and concert violinist that was killed by terrorists in Karachi in 2002. (Yes, a High Mass written by a confirmed agnostic, dedicated to a Jewish journalist. This is indeed the power of music - to break down cultural and ideological boundaries for a common good!)

For more information on this, see
It's a wonderful project, and a fitting legacy to this amazing young man.

I have spent the past several months working with Danny's mother, sister and their staff and this is a really wonderful organization that I am happy to promote through music.

So, let me know if you want to "share" some singers on this one. And, thanks so much to all of you that have already sent out this info. The response has been great!

It should be a grand event!

Best Regards,
Dan Rowntree
Westford Chorus

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Good concerts and turkeys

Well, if I am going to post more frequently, some of those posts will be short!

1.) The Boston Cecilia concert on Saturday went really well. I only got to hear the second half (because people come in up to 45 minutes late, yes they do, so I have to be at the ticket table and guard the doors that long) but that was gorgeous. I am always so proud when I hear Cecilia perform! I really think that their level of musicality and flexibility and expression is rare and wonderful in a chorus.

2.) Today, while walking down Beacon Street in Brookline, I saw a wild turkey. Walking down the sideway. In fact, it was chasing women. Several young women walked by at different points, and it would start following one for about a block, before giving up and then following another one. It was hilarious!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A few links of interest

Sometimes friends and family send me links to something interesting. As my brother knows better than anybody, these e-mails have a tendency to sit in my inbox for months until I get around to reading/watching/listening to them. But eventually, I almost always do!

From friend AN, last April: Joshua Bell becomes a street musician - does anybody notice? A fine subject for debate with all your friends. One argument to be made is that when performing, context matters, and not in a superficial way. Another is that perhaps there are other things that go into making a world-famous violinist in addition to skill. And there's nothing wrong with that, although perhaps it's a rude awakening for the violinist.

From my dad, last April: Chanticleer commissions a composite mass. I heard a bit of this in my friend AS's car. I wasn't blown away, but as we saw above, context matters. I'd love to hear a live performance.

From MA, a counter-tenor who sang with Cappella Clausura last year, from last May: Translations of popular hymns for the hard of hearing, by the hard of hearing. Also known as The Importance of Diction.

And finally, from this month, from my dad: New chant manuscript discovered at Harvard. It's 800 years old!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Weekend concert calendar, 10/18

Something I have occasionally considered doing is giving an overview each Thursday of what notable choral concerts are coming up each weekend in Boston. I think I am finally going to give this a try!

Boston choral music lovers are spoiled for choice this weekend! Here is an attempt at a comprehensive review of choral music in Boston in the next four days.

On Thursday (that's today! Start your weekend early!) the Zamir Chorale is performing at 7:30 pm at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline. They are a chorus specializing in Jewish music and culture. I have never been to a concert of theirs, but via the grapevine have only heard good things. Details at their website.

On Friday at 12:15 pm, the Fridays at Trinity Lunchtime Concert will star the Choir of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. More information can be found here. This concert series at Trinity is free.

On Friday at 8 pm (in downtown Boston) and again on Sunday at 3 pm (in Andover) Exsultemus is performing. They are a small professional Renaissance choir, and I recommend them highly. They will be joined by renowned local luteist Catherine Liddell (who is also playing at Cappella Clausura's next concert!) Details at their website.

There are two small professional Renaissance choirs in Boston (that I know of - feel free to enlighten me about others) and the other one is also performing this weekend! Schola Cantorum, whom I have sung with in the past and hope to in the future, will be performing on Friday in Boston; on Saturday in Providence; and on Sunday at 4 pm in Weston. Schola has no website of their own, but you can find concert details on the Boston Chapter AGO website. They are performing Monteverdi's Mass for Four Voices, which I was quite sad not to sing. This promises to be an excellent concert.

Of course, the reason I couldn't join Schola for this concert set is because The Boston Cecilia is performing on Saturday in Brookline! And you have no business being anywhere else! I have already discussed the program at length previously, but you really don't want to miss this all-Poulenc concert. Poulenc is a highly charismatic and charming composer, and on occasion, quite raunchy. This is the dirtiest concert this weekend, I promise.

If for some reason you just can't stand Poulenc, or don't want to see me, or have some other equally terrible reason for missing Cecilia's Saturday concert, you might take yourself over to The Orpheus Singers concert at Lindsey Chapel in Emmanuel Church. They are directed by Jim Olesen, a great conductor that I had the pleasure of working with when I sang with the Back Bay Chorale. They are doing an all-Italian a cappella concert, with songs spanning from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. This looks like a great program. Details are here. Tough choices - what to do on Saturday? The only sure thing is not to stay home!

Other choral concerts this weekend:
Scott Jarrett, "Eternal Light: A Cappella Choral Works," Friday at 8 pm at Marsh Chapel
Saengerfest Men's Chorus, Sunday at 4 pm in Westwood
Master Singers, "Trombone and Chorus," Sunday at 4 pm in Lexington

Now you know! Get out there and support your local choral musicians!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Reinvigorated Blogger!

Two articles recently brought to my attention by two different friends have helped to confirm my new resolution to blog more.

First, an article by Verlyn Klinkenborg (a name which you really should say aloud, just because) called "Politeness and Authority at a Hilltop College in Minnesota." While giving a talk and visiting some classes at Gustavus Adolphus College, the author is asked...well, I'll just copy a couple of paragraphs below:

Midway through lunch one day a young woman asked me if I noticed a difference between the writing of men and the writing of women. The answer is no, but it’s a good question. A writer’s fundamental problem, once her prose is under control, is shaping and understanding her own authority. I’ve often noticed a habit of polite self-negation among my female students, a self-deprecatory way of talking that is meant, I suppose, to help create a sense of shared space, a shared social connection. It sounds like the language of constant apology, and the form I often hear is the sentence that begins, “My problem is ...”

Even though this way of talking is conventional, and perhaps socially placating, it has a way of defining a young writer — a young woman — in negative terms, as if she were basically incapable and always giving offense. You simply cannot pretend that the words you use about yourself have no meaning. Why not, I asked, be as smart and perceptive as you really are? Why not accept what you’re capable of? Why not believe that what you notice matters?

This is very similar to the ideas that I was trying to get across in my essay published in James Jordan's The Musician's Walk. The author appears to believe that this "polite self-negation" is a result of the specific quiet, Minnesotan culture the students are raised in, but I firmly believe that this is something that is found in women doing all kinds of things all over the country. When I was describing this article to a friend, and how well it expressed my feelings and frustrations about the ways in which I and other women I know often present ourselves, she said it reminded her of Imposter Syndrome. And I immediately knew what that meant, despite having never heard of it before. After all, as a conductor, I certainly have to fight the tendency to put myself down all the time. Go read Klinkenborg's article - it expresses these things very well. Thanks to friend and novelist KA for bringing this to my attention.

The second article, The Well-Tempered Web, is a very useful summary of some of the ways the web is good for classical music, and discusses some of the more interesting sites about there. Thanks to friend and composer MJV for that link.

So, in honor of non-self-negation (how's that for a double negative?) and more fully joining the wide and happy world of classical music on the web, I hearby resolve to post about more than just what concerts I have coming up. Here's to fighting the good fight against that little voice that says, "You have nothing interesting to say."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vive la France! Vive Francis Poulenc!

This is an example of what an e-mail looks like that I might send out to our mailing list. It's going to be an awesome concert, whether you like soloists or choruses! You should all come! Also, note the spiffy use of the word "assay" below. That's our music director's doing!

The Boston Cecilia, with guest artist Christòpheren Nomura, baritone, and pianist Barbara Bruns, is proud to present:

Vive la France! Vive Francis Poulenc!

All-Poulenc concert

Don't miss the brilliant Boston Cecilia chorus in the first concert of their 132nd season!

On Saturday, October 20th at 8:00, music director Donald Teeters leads the chorus as they assay a wide ranging program of works mining the mystic charms and gallic wit of one of France's greatest 20th century composers, Francis Poulenc. Among the treasures to be heard in this program, Cecilia presents a major liturgical work, the a cappella Messe en Sol Majeur, Poulenc’s exalted 20th century take on that ancient Mass text—splendid and sophisticated sacred music with a distinctly French accent. Guest artist Christòpheren Nomura, baritone, one of the stars of Cecilia’s performance last April of Scott Wheeler’s opera The Construction of Boston, will be joined by pianist Barbara Bruns in a performance of two secular song cycles by Poulenc, his Banalités and the Chanson Gaillardes. Additional choral works include two major works based on poems by Paul Eluard and Guillaume Apollinaire, Un Soir de Neige and Sept Chansons. Both the Chansons Gaillardes and the Sept Chansons contain settings that explore various aspects of the human condition, bordering on the erotic in some instances.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

8:00 pm

All Saints Parish, 1773 Beacon St., Brookline

Tickets are $62, $42, $27, and $15. Call (617) 232-4540 to order by phone, or visit to order tickets online.

What people are saying about the Boston Cecilia:

"Teeters led everything [works of Scott Wheeler and Virgil Thomson] with remarkable sensitivity to both text and musical architecture. And if I ever forget what a superb programmer he's been over the 39 years of directing The Boston Cecilia, remind me of this concert." Lloyd Schwartz, The Boston Phoenix

Working in an office

Most of the time, I don't really feel as if I work in an office. I work in a little room in a big church, I can work from home whenever I want, and part of my job is to show up at weekly rehearsals (although not sing in them.) But sometimes something goes wrong, and I share the same problems that make office workers all over the nation clunk their heads against their monitors in frustration.

Being the Operations Manager of The Boston Cecilia is my main job. It's technically a half-time position, but our Executive Director was wooed away from us by a full-time job with the BCA (very sad, as he was both fun to work with and very good at his job) and so I've been accruing extra hours lately since I am now the only person on staff. I've gotten to take over interacting with the press, which is a great learning experience, if occasionally a little stressful, and since our first concert is next week, there's been quite a lot of press releases and e-mails to send out.

I'm also currently working on the program, which requires a lot of back-and-forth with the designer; filling ticket orders that come in online or by phone; sending e-mails about hiring a new Executive Director; sending e-mails to the chorus and to our mailing list of patrons; trying to get the Boston Globe to call me back about buying some ads; updating our newly designed and still unfinished website; and always fielding lots and lots of e-mails about everything possible Cecilia-related, from whether I'd like to do a program-ad trade with another chorus to whether someone can sit in on rehearsal to invoices.

Except that today, our e-mail is down. Since I am the only staff member, I should say my e-mail is down. As is the website. As is the listserver.

So, I can't e-mail the chorus to correct the typo in the e-mail I sent them last night, and asked them to forward to their friends. I can build new webpages, but I can't make them live. I can't check my e-mail to see if ticket orders have come in. I can't, in fact, e-mail anybody about anything, and since my addressbook is in my e-mail, I can't even e-mail people from my personal e-mail. I do have the designer's address memorized, so discussions about the program are luckily still moving forward, but otherwise it has been a very frustrating morning!

And our website and e-mail provider is in CA. Let's see, what time is it in CA?


[EDIT: We're back up! So now everybody gets to e-mail me and tell me that it's "un soir" and "la France", in an e-mail I already sent out to 1,000 people. It is not the greatest day, so far.]

The one thing I can do for our concert is to tell you about it! Which deserves a whole new post. So...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Veloso Project auditions

How many blog entries must there be out there that start with "I know I haven't updated recently, but I've just been so busy..."

Anyways. It's a new year (because really, musicians follow the academic schedule, and the new seasons always start in September) and I have many new projects!

One of the most exciting is that I'm putting together a recording of composer (and close friend) Michael Veloso's choral works. This will be done in three segments - the first segment is three of his SATB pieces, the second segment is two of his pieces for women's chorus, and the last will be his first choral piece, Aether, for 8-part mixed chorus.

I just had auditions for the first segment - we'll start rehearsals next week, and be recording in mid-December. I put out a call on the local websites, and I got much more response than I expected. (In this town, if you offer even a little money for a gig, people are interested!) So last night and the night before were spent listening to many people sing for me.

It was surprising what I learned about myself. One thing is that I have opinions - I'm sure that nobody but myself is remotely shocked, but I frequently worry that I won't be able to hear enough, or that my ear won't be intelligent and discerning enough, to have an opinion. (This is a recurring worry with me, in many different contexts. It is thankfully proven wrong on a fairly frequent basis, but never seems to disappear.) However, we had a wide range of people come in to sing, and one of the most interesting things was hearing what a difference there was between people who studied voice and people who didn't. The disparity was stark, and I could get an idea of how long people had been studying, too. In other ways, such as tone and vocal production, I also heard wide differences. I had worried that differences I heard would be subtle, but I felt like I was hearing in primary colors.

It was also somewhat heart-breaking, because nobody's perfect, and some people's flaws couldn't make up for their spectacular talents. There was a woman whose sight-reading was flawless and phenomenal, but the quality of her tone meant that she wouldn't blend and I couldn't take her. That still hurts, because you so rarely find musicianship like that. There were a number of opera singers who sounded beautiful, and were obviously working on or already having professional careers, but the size and quality of their voices meant that blend would have been impossible. That felt ironic, turning people down for being too professional, or too well-trained. But opera, or any kind of solo classical singing, is a very specialized kind of singing, and if you concentrate on singing well alone, sometimes you sacrifice singing well with other people.

But I almost have a group together now, and I'm very pleased with the top three voice parts. I'm less pleased that only one bass auditioned, since I need three. Thankfully, the one was strong, but that's not enough. So please, if anyone knows of a good, solid bass with strong sight-reading skills, strip him, wash him, and bring him to my-- I mean, send him my way!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Boston Cecilia auditions

Hello, and happy end-of-summer to everyone! I come to you with a request for Boston-based friends.

Boston Cecilia is having auditions! If you know of any singers with strong sight-reading skills and good musicianship (or are one yourself) then spread the word! In particular, if anyone would like to print out the following POSTER and put it up at your workplace, pass it out to friends, post it at your church, etc., that would be great.

It is a matter of personal relief and pride (given the fact that I work for them) that I can whole-heartedly endorse joining this group. Don Teeters, the director, is really, really good. He has high standards, but he isn't nasty in order to get his singers to meet them, and he's a really fine and expressive musician. Also quite funny. And the people are nice and fun to sing with (and also completely addicted to sugar - I have never seen a chorus that has such candy-oriented snack breaks!)

So! Put up posters! Talk it up! I'm off to post on craigslist again!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

O Mio Babbino

Did you miss the Boston Cecilia gala last month? If so, then you missed...


Opera meets Doo-Wop. It's making the rounds. I suggest you watch! Ironically, I was out of the room working on something when the performance happened, so I can't say I saw it, but at least I was in the building.

(Thanks to Karen for nudging me to post it.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Spring Cappella Clausura concert!

Come hear Cappella Clausura's spring concert! This is our final new program of the year - we have a BEMF concert in June, and a concert on Cape Cod in July, but those will both involve music we've already sung. The centerpiece of this concert is a Dixit Dominus by Marianne von Martines, a contemporary of Mozart. Also featured will be three pieces by Hilary Tann (who will be in attendance!) with some thundering organ accompaniment. This is also the Allegra show - Amy is letting me conduct one of the pieces, a Dixit Dominus by Isabella Leonarda (which includes orchestra!) and I have several solos - my favorite is the duet I get to sing with one of our sopranos who has a beautiful voice, and the one I'm most worried about is the one with lots of very fast old Spanish.

Here is the longer blurb, stolen from the website:

Cappella CLAUSURA adds a full baroque orchestra and a few tenors and basses to its core of singers and players to present what is believed to be the second performance ever of Marianne von Martines' "Dixit Dominus". This lively and delicious piece of classical composition was written to commemorate her election as the first woman to the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna in its 108 years of existence. Martines was an aristocrat, friend and musical colleague of Mozart, whose musical accomplishments were much revered in her day. This excellently crafted composition includes some exquisite solos and duets as well as full choral sections. Together with this remarkable work, we bring you an exciting Dixit Dominus by prolific baroque composer Isabella Leonarda, for chorus, continuo and two violins, which we will play with full orchestra colla parte, and a Dixit Dominus for full chorus, with some verses chanted, by Juan de Araujo of Lima, Peru whose works reflect the lush and jaunty baroque style of the New World.

Opening our concert, in our tradition of championing new works by women, will be the US premiere of Hilary Tann's magnificent Psalm 86, "Incline Thine Ear" scored for full chorus, organ and trumpet, for the first time surrounded by its set partners, Psalms 136 for full chorus and organ, and Psalm 104 for chorus, organ and two trumpets. These are joyous works of praise and complete delight in all of creation’s beauty.

Meet the composer: Ms. Tann has graciously consented to be our guest at the concert!

The concert is at 8 pm TOMORROW night, Sunday, and directions can be found here. I hope to see you all there! We've been getting some good press in the Globe, etc., so hopefully we'll have a good audience! (Although part of me feels that the fewer people hear me butcher early Spanish, the better. Speaking of which, I'm going to go practice.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Galas, galas, everywhere!

I have two gala benefits coming up in the next two weeks, and since both are for very worthy causes, I thought I should (belatedly) mention them in case anyone wants to attend either one.

The Cappella Clausura gala is happening this Sunday at 6:00 pm, and I will be singing a solo, as will some other members of the group. There will be wine, and dessert, and "musical enchantments" and it should be very lovely. It's being held in Taylor House in Jamaica Plain, and since Cappella was hosted there for a post-concert party once, I can tell you that the food they cook up there is amazing. Also, as galas go, it's quite reasonable, $45 for sponsor tickets and $75 for benefactor tickets. It's pretty late if you want to get tickets, and I should have mentioned it earlier, but I neglected to because...

I have been working my *** off for the Boston Cecilia gala, which will be a much more involved affair. Tickets start at $150 and go up from there. It will be held at the Harvard Club of Back Bay, musical guests are the GrooveBarbers (a group containing some of the founding members of Rockapella, including that guy with the blond braids on Carmen Sandiego) and there is both a silent auction and a live auction. When Cecilia members have mentioned the auction, they always mention the trips first (to Italy, South Africa, and various parts of New England) but I think they miss mentioning some of the most exciting things, such as:
  • a Chocolate Extravaganza gift basket! Why is this not the first thing everyone mentions?
  • a set of tickets to see a half dozen of the top choirs in Boston
  • a private voice lesson with a pair of opera singers (I'm drooling after this one, but probably can't afford to bid on it, although I threatened to Don, our musical director, that I might stand near it and make disparaging remarks to keep the price down, which of course is the opposite of the point of a gala auction)
  • and, OK, I confess the Tuscan villa looks pretty cool
At any rate, go check out the auction page, which I had to find all the pictures for. And consider coming! If all the other amusements fail, you can laugh at me hobbling around in strappy heels for an evening.