Hi, VTG and Bravi:
Thanks for a really productive, enjoyable rehearsal this past Monday. In spite of a sickness and a few absent singers, I was especially pleased with the sounds you made and the exuberance you showed while we were working outside. Things are starting to take shape now, and it’s time that we turn our attention toward performing. We must strive to engage our audiences through our facial expressions and physical embodiment of each piece. How will we go beyond the notes and rhythms, the correct diction, and good intonation, and bring your hard work to our audiences in a way that will really connect with them? Please consider the following ways we can accomplish the goals:
- Know EXACTLY what you are singing about. Yes, the words and their meanings… but just as importantly, the context of each piece. This is equally important in more serious music like “Convidando” and comedic pieces like “12 Days.”
- Connect the meaning and context with your face and physicality, focusing increasingly on this during your practice. Use your phone to record (video) yourself practicing, with the camera across the room. Watch yourself afterward. Are you engaged and visually committed the entire time? Note sections in which you can improve, and focus on those sections in later practice sessions.
- Incorporate this into the way you memorize the music. It doesn’t have to be robotic or choreographed, but you should feel confidently about your physical presence and have an idea of what happens next. Let it flow naturally from you as you perform.
With all of these things in mind, here are your action items for this week (repertoire specific notes are lower in the blog):
- Convidando – Completely memorized, confident with the Spanish language and the clapping
- 12 Days of Christmas – Memorized through letter E! No exceptions. This includes the physical movements we added this past week. Very close to memory for the rest of the piece.
- Blue Christmas – Notes and rhythms learned, as assigned two weeks back, up through page 8, measure 42.
- The First Nowell – Learn pitches for verse 2; memorize melody and words for the rest of the piece, write in words for verse 2.
- Caribbean Mass: Continue practicing Altissimo with movement and correct articulation.
- Santo and Agnus Dei Memorized; Credo and Kyrie completely learned with words, close to memorization. Work hard on the Italian.
- Amani: Lots of work is already done. Please, review the notes and practice text pronunciation slowly but in rhythm.
- Yoga: We began the second sun salutation sequence (forward fold with monkey and chair added into the flow) Practice daily.
- Meditation: practice every day. You should be up to 10 min a day now.
Convidando – Zéspedes
- We will be doing memory checks this week. We did not get to this last week, but I will prioritize it this coming Monday. 100% memorization, no excuses.
- Remember that even in the slower juguetes sections, we must still have motion. Practice with a metronome set at 110 — this is the eighth note for the slower section. Make sure you are not dragging too much.
- Remember that the faster estribillo sections, conversely, cannot rush. Practice with a metronome at 110 (yet again!) This is now the quarter note! Practice speaking in rhythm first. This will smooth out the Spanish.
- This is Christmas music — even the slower sections should sound festive. Practice and record yourself (video) and see how well your physicalization matches the excitement of the text.
12 Days of Christmas – Straight No Chaser
- You must practice the movements. They will not feel natural or confident unless you dedicate yourself to them. Exaggerate facial expressions, make movements very sharp and exact. When in doubt, watch yourself and record. Don’t go for “cool” — go for hilarious!
- Basses (especially Bass 2) need to sing out a bit. Please mark all dynamics one level up (p becomes mp, mp becomes mf, etc.)
- Listen to each of the carols and holiday songs included, so you’ll know EXACTLY what you’re spoofing! Here is a list:
- 12 Days of Christmas
- Deck the Halls
- Here we Come a-Wassailing
- Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town <–start around 1:30
- The Boar’s Head
- Carol of the Bells (Ukrainian Bell Carol) <– they sound great but aren’t you glad you don’t have to wear those collars?
- Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
- I have a little Dreidel
- …and finally, Africa!
- Did I miss any? Email me, if so!
Blue Christmas – arr. Mac Huff
- This is doo-wop! Not the Army-Navy Chorus. 🙂 Sing a bit “off the voice” and remember that style and accuracy are more important than volume, here.
- If you aren’t familiar with the doo-wop style, here is a short compilation of great doo-wop tunes. Enjoy!
- You will be leading the audience for much of this piece, as a singalong. As such, you will need to look enthusiastic and eager to invite them to sing with you. This means a charming, good-humored demeanor, a pleasant expression, and fully engaged body while you perform. You must practice this, even now — what you practice becomes muscle memory!
- Notes and rhythms should be learned up through measure 42 by this coming week.
Caribbean Mass (SATB), by Glenn McClure
Monday, we reviewed the first movement, Altissimo.
- Be sure the opening measures are strong – they introduce the whole piece!
- Review pitches in the measure before letter A (ms. 25).
- At letter A and following, your articulation should be bouncy, staccato; then full and connected at “Bon Signor” in ms. 30-33 and similar places.
- Alto 2 singers will join tenors at ms. 30 until ms. 33… Tenors: please sing the high F#’s in a light head-tone unless it is really comfortable for you.
- Ms. 51-52 and other like phrases should be marcato.
- Be sure to get off the note quickly at places like ms. 58, 61, 64, 67, 70.
- At letter C, it’s like the party in the street has broken into a conga line! Keep the articulation sharp and feel the rhythm in your body.
Recordings for your reference:
Kyrie (sung by the MA All-State Honor Choir, Dr. Janet Galvan, Conductor): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4CcudfDr18
Here is Santo…
Other announcements and reminders:
- Tour registration reminder: Don’t forget to register for Tour today! Please visit the member-only portion of the website and sign up now. The last day to register is October 31st!
- Tickets for Holidays with Cantabile are on sale now! Please visit the Cantabile website to buy your tickets today – they are going quickly! Additionally, please remember to pass out the three postcards that you were given this week in class: we need your help in filling the hall, so invite your extended family, friends, teachers, and neighbors today!
- Please note that call times for the Fall Rehearsal on Saturday, November 4th have changed and are earlier than previously scheduled. Your call time is 9:00 am!
- You are invited and encouraged to join Vocalise SSA singers as they appear with Cappella SF, a wonderful professional chorus from San Francisco, this Saturday. The concert is at St. Andrew’s Church in Saratoga, 13601 Saratoga Ave, at 7:00pm. The performance should be over by 9:00 pm.
Happy practicing, and have a wonderful week —
Jace, Elena, and Lori