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!