Monday, May 30, 2011

Linked on Local Pigeon!

Check it out - I have been linked on this nifty site called Local Pigeon, which links to a different neat site every day. Especially cool to be up there since the blog Already Pretty is also linked this month. I discovered that blog a few months back and have been reading it avidly ever since, so it's kind of exciting to be up there at the same time!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


So, the discerning Gentle Reader may have noticed a discrepancy this past week in this blog. On Wednesday I told you that I was singing in a choral benefit concert for Haiti on Saturday, and on Thursday I told you there were no choral concerts this weekend.

Wednesday I was right, and Thursday I was forgetful! There is ONE choral concert this weekend, and since I am singing in it, you might have thought I would remember to mention it, but apparently summer-brain has already set in. It is TONIGHT, at 8 pm at St. John the Evangelist near Government Center, and I hope you can all come!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 5/26/11

Well, it's Memorial Day Weekend...and folks, I got nuthin'! Wisely, all the local choruses avoided scheduling concerts or performances for a weekend when many people would be out of town. Enjoy the (finally) lovely weather!

Next Tuesday, check out the Newton Singers. That's all, folks!

Did I miss anything? Leave it in the comments!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Benefit Concert for Haiti

I have been thinking recently that I should post more often about what I am actually doing in my life, so I think I may try to do that every Wednesday. Recently, this means fund-raising activities. Last week, I posted about my participation in the Walk for Music on behalf of Cantilena (and I raised almost double my goal, which was awesome!) This week, I want to let you know that this Saturday I will be singing in a benefit concert for Haiti.

Local conductor Michael Barrett (who happens to conduct Convivium Musicum, the group I talked about yesterday!) has put together a benefit concert to raise money for Haiti, which is still dealing with the devastating results of the 2010 earthquake a year and a half later. He has assembled an impressive roster of professional early musicians from the greater Boston area, and also me. ;) We will be performing polychoral works by Praetorius and Gabrieli, and we will be assembling this complex music the same day of the concert. That's right, this bunch of hotshots is going to rehearse for the first time at 3 pm and perform the concert that evening. The concert will be at 8 pm at St. John the Evangelist on Bowdoin St. in downtown Boston on this coming Saturday, May 28.

There will be cornettos. And sackbuts. Multiple choirs singing from all the balconies. And Frances Fitch on continuo. Be there or be sad!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Convivium Musicum review

This past Sunday I went to go hear Convivium Musicum perform their program "Armada," and since they gave me a comp, they get a review!*

I was hardly an objective observer of this group; I got to substitute-direct a rehearsal for them towards the end of April. But it was very pleasant indeed to be able to sit back and enjoy the skill of this admirable ensemble.

The programming was very strong; it was all music on the subject of war that would have been performed around the time of the Spanish Armada. One detail that warmed this music geek's heart was the fact that four of the five mass movements they performed were based on the Janequin chanson "La Guerre," something that was very interesting to listen for. I also especially enjoyed the music of Guerrero, who is a composer I was unfamiliar with and whose work is surprisingly beautiful. But what really made this program extraordinary was the use of text in between each musical number. Anney Gillotte, a former member of the group (full disclosure: also a close friend! told you I wasn't objective) put together a really remarkable story-telling of the Spanish Armada, complete with fascinating source texts. Conductor Michael Barrett read the connecting storyline of the historical event, but various chorus members stepped out to read letters and speeches from the major players, which added a real level of drama to the proceedings. Normally I am not that interested in lecture-concerts, but this worked terrifically; partly perhaps I didn't know any of the details of this particular historical episode, and the plot was really quite gripping! The music worked extremely well to tell the story as well, especially in the second half of the concert, when the dramatic tension ramped up. So bravo to everyone for creating such a notably fascinating concert.

Technically, of course, one is always in good hands with Convivium Musicum. The balance was very good, although I could wish for a more robust sound from the sopranos; it's very clean, but I would love to hear them feel free to soar a little more. My major issue with this concert was the acoustics - Grace Episcopal Church in Salem is extremely dry, and it would have been much more satisfying to hear the concert in a wetter room. Luckily, Convivium did not need a forgiving space; there were only a few tuning mistakes, quickly resolved, and their solidity of tempo and rhythm was really excellent. I am always telling my choirs that they must take responsibility for the rhythmic integrity of the piece themselves; hearing Convivium nail every tempo together was a joy. They clearly were all moving together as one, and had the same ideas about their momentum with director Michael Barrett never needing to dictate anything, only to shape. I remember the point at which I was listening to an old choral recording of myself, and realized that although the tuning was solid, the performance was second-rate because the choir was not moving crisply in rhythm together. That was when I realized that all first-rate choirs have excellent rhythm; and this is particularly true of Convivium.

But technical aspects are not why we go to concerts. We want things to be interesting! And between good programming, and wonderful texts, and every singer's face up and out and communicating, this was absolutely a very interesting and enjoyable concert. Kudos to Convivium!

*peers over the rim of my glasses at Cantata Singers, BEMF, Celebrity Series Boston...hint, hint!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday link

A wonderful article from NPR on not underestimating younger audiences, by soprano Christine Brewer.

Audition notice

I usually don't post audition notices, but because it's not the usual audition time I'm going to make an exception. The Orpheus Singers are auditioning for singers with fine voices and excellent sight-reading skills from May 20 through May 27.

From the notice: "The Orpheus Singers is a chamber choir of skilled volunteers and paid professionals of 24 - 28 singers. We sing two concerts per season with rehearsals twice a week (Tu and Th evenings) for the three weeks leading up to the concert. Then we go "fallow" until the next concert preparation. We sing concerts of classical repertory from the 15th century to recently composed music, often on the same program, and often a cappella. Please call James Olesen, the music director, directly at (617) 666-4617 for an appointment."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 5/19/11

Folks, I think that the world IS in fact ending tomorrow; as evidence I submit that there is a giant ball of fire in the sky! I certainly cannot remember the last time I saw such a thing. At least you know that if you are not taken up on Saturday, you can go hear some good choral music on Sunday.

Friday: Go hear the Choir of the Church of the Advent! They are known for being hot stuff, AND they are singing Victoria. 8 pm at (surprise!) the Church of the Advent in Boston.

Also on Friday: Christ Church Evensong Choir, Lexington Pops Chorus.

Saturday: Go hear the Seraphim Singers and the Boston New Music Initiative present some new choral music! 8 pm at St. John's Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain.

Also on Saturday: Convivium Musicum, Lexington Pops Chorus, Mystic Chorale, Newton Community Chorus, Stämbandet.

Sunday: Go hear the Mystic Chorale; they are always an energetic good time. 3:30 pm at Tremont Temple in Boston.

Also on Sunday: Brookline Chorus, Convivium Musicum, Paul Madore Chorale.

And on Tuesday, check out the Greater Boston Intergenerational Chorus concert at 7 pm in First Parish Church in Watertown. This group is directed by Joanne Hammil, who writes the best music for kids that I have ever come across.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Musica Sacra review

Musica Sacra gave me comps to their concert last Saturday, and that means I feel somewhat obligated to post a review here!

The concert was titled "Love, Lust and Laudations" and it was an exploration of Flemish choral music during the High Renaissance. It was a highly enjoyable concert; Musica Sacra is a sharp outfit, so what is there to say, really? Positive reviews are boring, but there it is. Tuning and expressiveness were impressive as always. And the diction! During much of the concert, I found myself profoundly glad that somebody had done the important and dedicated work of figuring out how to pronounce Renaissance Flemish French (or whatever that linguistic variation is called) and then practicing it enough to do it solidly and well. I also found myself profoundly glad that that person was not me, because wow, working that language into your mouth is hard and they had a lot of it! My one quibble might be that I felt some of the tempos were a bit too brisk, but on the other hand who can argue with excitement?

To make this more interesting, I will share with you my rips from the concert. During a lot of choral concerts I take the program and I make a little rip next to any piece that I especially like. The idea is that when I am doing my own programming I can go back to old programs I've saved and research pieces that have a little rip next to them (though to date I have always had enough program ideas that I've never actually done this.) Here's what I ripped from the Musica Sacra concert. If I remember why I ripped it, I will mention that!

En ce gracieulx mois de may, by Jean Courtois: This was the first chanson on the concert, and I ripped it b/c it was just pretty. Many of the chanson were charming, but this was the prettiest!

Elle n'eust sçeu la chaleur esprouver, by Claude Le Jeune: This chanson ended the first half; I don't remember it as well as the first (see, this is why I do the rips!) but I think I ripped it b/c it was also pretty and romantic and had a slightly grand ending.

O Maria Vernans Rosa, and also Adesto Dolori Meo, both by Clemens Non Papa: Wow, I don't know Clemens all that well, which is probably why the serene beauty of both of these motets caught me a little off guard. No wonder people still sing this guy's music!

Cum Essem Parvulus, by Orlandus Lassus (we're in a French mode, here!): I chose this as much for the text as the music. This is a setting of 1 Corinthians 13:11-13, and
I have not found many (any?) settings of that text before, much less a beautiful one by Lassus.

Naturally if you wish to hear any of these pieces you can go and buy Musica Sacra's CD of this music. ;)

Support me in the Walk for Music!

This coming Sunday is the Boston's Walk For Music, and I will be participating! This fundraiser supports all types of music programs in Boston's neighborhoods and surrounding communities. 100% of the pledges raised will go straight to these music programs, and all donations are tax-deductible. (None of the pledges go to the Walk, which is staffed by volunteers.) I will be part of the Cantilena team, and my personal goal is to raise $250.

This may seem like a lot to raise in 5 days, but all I really need is 25 people to pledge me $10! (Larger amounts would naturally be gratefully accepted!) I know not everyone can afford $10 right now, but if you can, I really hope you'll consider pledging to support me. Any money you donate goes straight to Cantilena's budget, and will be directly responsible for hiring soloists, paying for sheet music, or paying for our upcoming CD recording (we are recording in January
2012). Tickets do not nearly cover Cantilena's budget; we are very dependent on donations and fund-raisers, and the Walk for Music will be an important part of our budget for the upcoming year. (I have sat through the board meetings, and I know!)

I hope that you are able to support me with a pledge for Cantilena toward the Walk for Music. You can donate directly to Cantilena online - just go to and click on the Donate button at the bottom. (And then be sure to comment and let me know you did so!)

I'm really looking forward to participating in the Walk for Music, and I welcome your pledge to "keep music alive in our community." Thanks for your support! (And if you are part of a chorus or musical organization, consider walking yourself! It's easy to sign up!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday link

A few weeks ago, Terry Gross interviewed James Levine for the NPR show Fresh Air. I didn't catch the whole thing, maybe 2/3 of it, but it's definitely very interesting. I was most intrigued by his thoughts on conducting style, which came in the first half of the interview.

If you don't feel like listening, there is also an attached article that summarizes the interview.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday cat post! Oomi edition!

When was the last time we checked in with Oomi, my brother's cat?

Good to know she is looking as picture-perfect as ever!

Weekend Concert Calendar, 5/12/11

I apologize for the lateness of this post; Blogger was down for more than 24 hours (which is something that is going to make me think hard about where I am posting this blog - opinions on good platforms welcome.) But here we are, finally!

We're at that point in the semester where the choices are tough, tough, tough! Everybody and their cousin has a concert this weekend! Break a leg, everyone!

Friday: If you enjoyed the Back Bay Chorale's performance of Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil earlier this year, why not check out Masterworks Chorale's performance of Tchaikovsky's All-Night Vigil, a precursor to Rachmaninoff's more well-known piece? 8 pm at Sanders Theatre.

Also on Friday: Arlington-Belmont Chamber Chorus, Boston Archdiocesan Choir School & St. Paul Men's Schola, Cantata Singers.

Saturday: I myself will be going to the Musica Sacra concert at 8 pm at First Church Congregational in Cambridge! I was lucky enough to sub for director Mary Beekman at one of their rehearsals earlier this semester, so I can't wait to hear how they sound. The program is called "Love, Lust, and Laudations: Flemish Choral Music of the High Renaissance" and there is a pretty wide range from beautiful sacred music to extremely raunchy secular songs!

Also on Saturday: Back Bay Chorale, Braintree Choral Society, Cambridge Chamber Singers, Choral Art Society of the South Shore, Convivium Musicum, Exsultemus, Heritage Chorale, Lorelei Ensemble, Newburyport Choral Society, Somerville Community Chorus, Treble Chorus of New England.

Sunday: Check out Convivium Musicum's martial program "Armada!" including war-inspired works by Victoria, Francisco Guerrero, Rogier, and Byrd. I was also lucky enough to sub for a rehearsal for director Michael Barrett earlier this semester (by the way, I'm happy to substitute-direct for anybody's rehearsal whenever needed!) and there is some beautiful music on this program (especially the Guerrero, a piece I didn't know and which was a delightful surprise.) 7 pm at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brookline.

Also on Sunday: Andover Choral Society, Cambridge Chamber Singers, Cappella Clausura, Coro Allegro, Exsultemus, Quincy Choral Society, Wellesley Choral Society, Youth Pro Musica.

Did I miss anything? Leave it in the comments!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 5/5/11

This is going up a little later than usual, but hopefully this will still be of use!

Friday: Celebrity Series Boston is bringing Sweet Honey in the Rock! Wooo! 8 pm, Symphony Hall. They are AWESOME and that is all there is to say about that.

Also on Friday: MIT Concert Choir.

Saturday: For Saturday, I recommend a town: Concord. The Concord Women's Chorus is doing one fascinating program at 2 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord. It will feature Andrew Carter's Missa Brevis, Michael Isaacson's Cradle of Fire, and Gregg Smith's Latin Madrigals. Then at 7 pm the Concord Chorus (a mixed group) will be doing an excellent program featuring Barber's Reincarnations and selections from Argento's Walden Pond at 8 pm at the New Church in Concord. (And in between Concord features plenty of places for pretty walks and delicious dinners!)

Also on Saturday: A Cappella Singers, Assabet Valley Mastersingers, Capriccio Children's Chorus, Harvard Pro Musica, Jubilate Chorale, Master Singers of Lexington, Newton Choral Society, Simmons College Concert Choir.

Sunday: How appropriate that on Mother's Day the MIT Concert Choir should be singing Haydn's Creation! 4 pm, Kresge Auditorium on the MIT campus in Cambridge.

Also on Sunday: The deVaronistas.

Did I miss anything? Leave it in the comments!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Monday link

Well, there has been a lot of news since then, but there was some very nice choral music at the Royal Wedding last Friday. You can hear it here.