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!

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