Congratulations on your great work on our current music packet. The majority of the notes are nearly in hand, a wonderful accomplishment at midpoint in our preparation. You’ve read well, started to tune well, and much of our sound is beautiful and expressive. Now (as most of you experienced singers know) much of the hard work really begins, if we’re to be truly ready for public appearance. We’ll concentrate on many things Monday night, but here’s a short list of things to plan for:
1. Lose the dependence on the printed page. Even if you think you’re looking up a lot, there’s a bunch of folks who aren’t holding music high and/or have eyes mostly down. The last photos (from November’s concert) were almost useless for PR because we looked like amateur, insecure singers in nearly every one. Where your eyes point, that’s where you’re aiming your sound. And your audience will never connect with you if you’re lost in the printed page.
2. Vowel color. We need to avoid the “grinny” and flat vowels that seem more related to normal speech sounds than to lovely singing. We talk a lot about vertical space in the sound and you achieve that so beautifully in warm-up and also when reminded during pieces. It seems that the difficulty lies in each singer’s commitment to this issue when not reminded. This is especially tough when our reflexes produce that “other” vowel sound automatically – and when shaping the progress of a diphthong in natural speech ways seems so logical. However, we know from hearing so many choirs in the past that good, accurate, pure vowels are requirements of any decent ensemble.
3. Consonant clarity. This is partly a matter of consonant production – but, more specifically, accurate rhythmic placement of consonants. We worked hard on a few passages last rehearsal, striving to unify the beginning and ending sounds of words. It made an enormous difference when every voice produced “d” or “k” or “s” together, and the texts came alive.
4. Linearity, dynamics, expression. Nobody needs to be told that we’re only barely there. As an example from last Monday, the first entrances of the “Cantique” (our final, “good-bye” song) were syllabic and mechanical, certainly not the way we know the piece needs to be expressed. This didn’t happen because people weren’t trying hard – or didn’t know the notes. When we remembered how an artistic and elegant line was absolutely necessary to the feeling of the music and then started over, our singing rose to the occasion! It was breathtaking and moving, and I know we all felt part of an important experience. Please take extra care to write helpful expressive/dynamic notes in your music during rehearsals and in your private study so this will happen every time.
Monday’s rehearsal will include work on the above, more attention to the Beethoven, as well as some sectional work. [Gentlemen: Ave Maria!!] Also, please check the website for important dates in the LCS calendar, as they unfold.
Some good links to YouTube performances are provided below. They’re all interesting and I hope they’re helpful. Best,
Many thanks to Lucia Solomon [LCS alto section] for compiling this terrific set of YouTube links to almost all of our current pieces(!!!). Some of these are concert performances, while others provide study tracks which are useful for studying individual parts. You should be able to use those links to switch to other voice parts, as you need. The least satisfactory performance (to my ears) is the “Cry Out and Shout,” but the one here is perhaps better than most. I checked dozens of other performances on the net and there doesn’t seem to be even one without serious issues. (This gives us something to aim for.) Listen and enjoy:
And some other links:
Moses Hogan, Anchored in the Lord
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvQyfr31ams [Actual Hogan performance]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYWvenCO5CA [Reunion choir concert]
Biebel, Ave Maria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb_gYaOPsJQ [Matthew Curtis on all parts!!]
Dorsey/Sevier, Precious Lord [another good one]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI9wv6ADF-8 [Doane College Alumni Choir]
arr. Undine Moore, Daniel, Daniel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-JeVLFx71E [Sunday Night Singers]
Berger, The Eyes of All
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evSEumnYZTs [Mormon Tabernacle]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oV1TuSvWiIU [Nat’l Taiwan Univ. Chorus]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33I-MOnO_uQ&list=PLeA3BiJp7CD9_FWbCuWb0y8UYk3GkoLz&index=2 [Indiv. Parts]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbOwYw1jlZE [more indiv. parts…]