Blog

Dear Bravi and VTG:

Thank you for your hard work while I was rehearsing Vocalise.  Jazmine mentioned that she had a great time working with you and that you sang very beautifully.

Our concerts are just around the corner, so we must take the music beyond the rehearsal process and focus on performance. Each time you practice, please consider: 1) WHY you sing, 2) WHAT we’re singing about, and 3) HOW you can show the meaning of each and every phrase with your face and your physical presence. Elena and the artistic staff have worked be certain each of you is open to the emotional content of this music.  It is now your duty to take our work and your emotional dedication OUTWARD, and share it with our audiences.

Action Items/Expectations: all singers should be able to put a checkmark next to the items below.

  1. ALL pieces except for Bridge and Imagine (May 2nd) should have been memorized by our April 17th rehearsal – Everything must be memorized by next rehearsal.
  2. When reading the blog, enter all markings and comments into your score, per the detailed descriptions below.

Additional Announcements and Reminders:

  • If you are taking an SAT Subject Test on Saturday, May 6th (the day of our All-Choir Concert), please fill out this form ASAP. We need to know when your exams are so that we can plan accordingly. All responses must be submitted by this Friday, April 21st.
  • Tell EVERYONE about our Spring Concert! This event is twice as big as it was last year, so we want to see twice as many people! Invite friends, family, teachers, etc. Direct them to www.cantabile.org/experience-cantabile/web-of-life
  • Please mark in your calendars that our rehearsals on Monday, May 1st and Monday, May 8th at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto begin at 5 PM, 30 minutes earlier than usual. Plan to be there by 4:45 so that we may begin on time.

 

Repertoire Notes:

Only a portion of the pieces are covered below. All singers must practice all pieces each week.

Refer to previous blogs for details.

Esti Dal

  • Memory!
  • Practice looking up and emoting as you sing, so that this is in your “muscle memory.”

Rain Music

  • Memory!

Turn the World Around

  • Internalize the dance of the 5/4 rhythm. Practice a few times with the stomps and claps (Stomp-clap-clap-Stomp-clap-clap-Stomp-clap-Stomp-clap) – try singing with this beat once you have it down!
  • Memorize every aspect of this piece. Repeats, entrances, dynamics, and how you interact with other parts and the instruments should be solid in your mind.
  • There are many repeats – sing it like you mean it every time!
  • Communicate an expression at all times, especially during piano interludes. Your expression should never be lackadaisical – “So is life” should have feeling, not apathy
  • For now sing mm. 57-60 only twice
  • Dance with the hand claps whenever they come! Remember that there are accents on the last two beats of each measure you clap.
  • Bravi: even when you do not have words, continue to raise your eyebrows and sing with an expressive face.
  • Sing the last “So is life” with confidence and ON TIME.

Famine Song

  • You know the choreography, now commit to it. Make your movement fluid and intentional. Stroke the air with the back of your open hand (no claws), with tension and intention in your fingers.
  • Prepare the first movement on the “recon-CILED,” raising your hands to heart subtly and slowly, with hands crossed over your chest by the cut-off.
  • Sing facing a mirror and pay attention to what your face is doing. Find ways to connect with this piece emotionally and see how doing so changes your expression.
  • There are many tools for expressive singing – facial expressions, tone quality, intensity of consonants. Use these tools from the very beginning regardless of whether or not you are singing words.
  • Bravi/VTG: Though it is just one note, the opening E-natural you hum can be extremely expressive. Experiment with singing the words above you in your head while you hum. How does that affect your sound?
  • Longer vowels throughout!
  • Expression and breath support are your best friends in the “Rain” sections! Maximize these to keep the pitch up.
  • Use the rest at the end of m. 25 to transform your attitude from solemn to declamatory – still mournful though.
  • Tenors and Alto 2s singing with the tenors at m. 33 – make that D more heady as you transition to the section at m. 34.
  • In the solo section (mm. 34-47), watch your conductor for the beat if you get lost. As the accompanists to the soloists, you should sing just as expressively as before. This section is in a lamenting style – I like to think of it as feeling so much longing that you simply do not have any words to express it.
  • Focus on the intonation of your chords during the solo section (mm. 34-47). It is tempting to get lost in the beautiful solos you hear, but don’t go too far astray — the chords you are singing under them are just as important as the solos themselves.
  • There is still something missing in the “Out of Heat/Famine’s teeth” section… The intensity should be cranked up in your facial expression, vocal tone, and your consonants!
  • Snapping begins at m. 68, two measures before the last “Rain” section. You should enter according to the order of your birth month: Jan-Apr, May-Aug, Sept-Dec.

 

Past Life Melodies

  • Always sing with a smile – if you are humming, sing with a smile in your eyes!
  • At section C – watch your conductor for your note changes
  • At section D – The 4-bar repeats of the Nairs end after 6 and a half times. Mark on which repeat you change notes – You should be singing a unison “B” by the start of the 6th repeat.

 

Bridge over Troubled Water

  • Sing this with your entire soul! Check out this recording (featuring Luther Vandross and Jennifer Holliday) that inspired this arrangement of the song.
  • Watch your cutoffs throughout this song!
  • Upper voices at rehearsal B: Observe the markings on “Oo-oo-hoo” – The first two notes should be connected, the second note should be staccato, and the final note should have a small scoop.
  • At m. 44, “comfort you” should only have an intentional stylistic scoop on the first syllable
Always our best,
Jace, Justin, Jazmine, and Elena
April 21, 2017

April 17 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #13

Dear Bravi and VTG: Thank you for your hard work while I was rehearsing Vocalise.  Jazmine mentioned that she had a great time working with you and that you sang very beautifully. Our concerts are just around the corner, so we must take the music beyond the rehearsal process and focus on performance. Each time you practice, please consider: 1) […]
April 13, 2017

April 10 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #12

Hi, Bravi and VTG: We are quickly approaching the final rehearsals of the semester and the very exciting opportunities to perform our Spring concerts with our guest artist, Laura Inserra. (Take a few minutes to look  through her website, where she has lots of information about the instruments she creates and plays.) She’s a fascinating person and we are very […]
April 7, 2017

Intermediate Blog # 13 Thursday April 6th

Greetings, Intermediate Singers, Thank you for a good rehearsal last night. Elena was so impressed with your beautiful singing and you made some important progress on all of your massed songs. Please be sure to work very hard at home this week to fix any challenging sections we had last night – particularly in We Can Plant a Forest! Keep up the […]
March 22, 2017

March 20 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #9

Hi, Bravi and VTG: Thanks for a great rehearsal on Monday night. I agree whole-heartedly with Elena’s remarks: VTG has risen to a more successful level of preparation and ability these past couple weeks.  Please keep the hard work — it’s really paying off. As Elena said in the Vocalise blog:  “Joan Szymko [composer of “We Are a Circle”] will be […]
March 16, 2017

March 13 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #8

Hi, VTG and Bravi: It was great to spend a full rehearsal with you all last week, following a couple unusual weeks while Elena was away.  Thanks for your hard work and flexibility while I was elsewhere! Action Items for this week: Bravi and VTG: learn all words and pitches (including added pitches) for “Rain Music” by Laura Farnell. Work […]
March 10, 2017

Vocalise Blog #8: 3/6/2017

Hi, Vocalise: Thank you for Monday’s rehearsal.  Learning a large amount of new material in one rehearsal is difficult, particularly when the music is so rhythmically complex.  Keep working on it — we’ll get there!  Elena will be very excited to return next week and see the beginnings of your work on this new repertoire… and you will have a […]
February 11, 2017

Vocalise Blog #5: 2/6/2017

Dear Vocalise,   Hope your weekend if off to a great start. Things are busy here in preparation for tomorrow’s Gala. Best wishes to Aria and Bravi singers on being the entertainment and the inspiration at this this very important and celebratory event.   “Strength often lies in numbers but excellence can only come from personal dedication” (anon.)   “Practice […]
February 9, 2017

Feb. 6 – Bravi Rehearsal #4

Hi, Bravi and VTG: VTG singers should refer to the Vocalise blog, which will be posted very soon, for their rehearsal this week.  Hang in there, VTG — your work will be very helpful in bringing Bravi up to speed as they rejoin you with Vocalise in rehearsal next week! Bravi: First and foremost, thank you for your hard work […]