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 these past two weeks. As your student conductor said — the Sunday rehearsals DO pay off. Huge steps were taken over the last 14 days.
The gala will come and go in the blink of an eye, so it’s important that you have your thoughts in order for that evening. First of all, some logistics:
4:30pm Arrival, dressed and ready
*Please arrive early enough to park and find your way upstairs by 4:30.
Angelica’s, Redwood City
Concert Attire – Blue ties, vests, etc. Shirts ironed thoroughly and carefully!
Dismissal between 9:30 – 10:00
Your first musical set is in this order:
- Go to the Mardi Gras
- Basin Street Blues
- Do You Know What it Means…
- When the Saints Go Marchin’ In
Your second musical set is in this order:
- What I Have Done
- Storm Comin’ (Aria)
- Creole Love Call
Aria will sing one piece alone later, and then you all will sing, at the end of the evening:
- Bridge Over Troubled Water (conducted by Elena)
Here are repertoire notes on each of those pieces, in that order:
Go to the Mardi Gras
- Please commit this entirely to memory. It was pretty good on Monday, but the syncopated entrance on line 5 (“WHEN you see the Mardi Gras…”) was inconsistent. Drill this verse.
- Review your pitches on the third verse, please.
- Do all of your practice with movement. Never stand still.
- Do all of your practice with facial expression. Do not rehearse with boredom on your face, or you will look bored in performance.
- Remember the vocal falls we added on “St. Claude and Dumaire” and the final “Oh yeaaaaaaah.”
- Remember how much articulation and energy must be put into the words in order to match the energy of the trio. This is a much more effective (and vocally healthy!) way to cut over the trio, compared to singing fortissimo constantly.
Basin Street Blues
- Review the chromatic “oo” chords that fall under Josephine’s opening and closing solos. These are tricky chords to tune. Please sing them a cappella, and then check your intonation against the piano for every half-step move you make. Make sure you that you sing squarely in the center of each pitch, not sinking flat as the chords settle downward.
- Remember that the first entrance under Hannah’s solo at m. 17 (“Come along with me”) shouldn’t be too loud — keep it soft and let the soloists invite you to gradually sing louder.
- Review the cutoff from mm. 26 – 27 and be quite sure you’re putting the “s” on the downbeat.
- Review the rhythm at mm. 27 – 28 for “Old friends to greet us,” which is syncopated and staggered between the parts. These rhythms and pitches need to be more secure.
Do You Know What it Means
- Your parts are in this piece are quite challenging. This arranger (Kirby Shaw) often places the basses and tenors rather high in their range, filling in upper chord tones, rather than creating a foundation. Please review your notes and sing along with this recording. It’s important that you familiarize your ears with how your parts interact with Aria’s parts. They’re often voice very close to yours, which can throw your ears off. They must be in tune.
- Remember that the tone for this piece is light, and “off the voice.” Never heavy, always silvery and shimmery.
- The chromatic motion in mm. 7 – 8 needs to be better in both parts. Tenors, be sure you’re making it back up to the same you B you left in m. 7. Basses, check that you’re landing squarely on the F# and not falling flat as you return to it in the following measure.
- Practice mm. 18 – 19 repeatedly with the piano, insisting on very good intonation. A light, head-voice tone will help you. Descending chromatic lines are idiomatic in jazz, but they are tricky to sing. Please check EVERY half step against the piano and think “up” as you walk down the scale.
- Review your cutoffs. They tend to be slightly sluggish compared to Aria’s cutoffs. Please be with them.
When the Saints Go Marching In
- This has come a long way, very quickly! Thank you for your work on it.
- Remember that all syncopated entrances should be “stung.” A hard accent, and then quickly away — much like a sforzando. This will save your voices and also create aural texture. Examples: all tenor entrances on p. 3, all tenor entrances on p. 5, the repeated statements of “Marching In” on p. 11 in both parts, etc.
- Review the text on p. 9 — remember that the last phrase is still “When the band begins to play,” NOT “when the saints go marching in.”
- Please review the “belltone” entrances of “IN” on the bottom system of page 12. There are five “belltones” and you must know which one you are! Hint: Basses are #5, baritones are #3, tenors are #2.
What I Have Done
- Recall Monday’s rehearsal and how beautiful this sounded by the end of the evening. That beauty was achieved through careful listening and an intense focus on beautiful tone. It might not have felt loud and bombastic, but it was really, really nice. This must be your approach every time you rehearse this piece.
- Basses and baritones: please review the syncopated rhythm in m. 16. This must be together on beat 5. Not early, not late, and not slapped; just subtly emphasized.
- Figures with three consecutive eighth notes in motion must NOT rush (examples: baritones in m. 28, tenor 1 and tenor 2 in m. 30, as well as basses).
- Review the chords in mm. 64 – 66. It’s not enough to know your line — you must also know how it fit with the other lines and your function within each chord. This will help them to tune. Please play these on the keyboard, slowly, and sing along. Hold each chord for a long while, feeling how your note resonates with the others.
- Remember we are relaxing the tempo in m. 101, so please do not rush the moving eighth notes here (tenor 1 and 2).
- We are taking a tutti breath before m. 102, so please have your eyes up. You will need a lot of air for this final chord progression. Keep the G# nice and high, as well as the tenor 1 step from D to E.
Creole Love Call
- This is in good shape, though you must always consider what you’re doing behind the soloists. Never look bored. Respond to their sounds with your facial expression if you aren’t singing. If you’re singing/playing backup in the band, ham it up!
- Remember the jazz hands a final pose on the end.
Bridge Over Troubled Water
- New solo assignments were made after our rehearsal with the trio and Elena conducting. Please don’t be discouraged — the seniors will get their shot at these solos in May.
- Please review them:
- Letter B is now Hannah Steuer.
- mm. 45 – 51 is now all of Bravi.
- mm. 58 – 59 is now all of Bravi.
- m. 63 is now all of of Bravi.
- Please review notes and rhythms for the sections listed above because they were not terribly clean on Monday. We rehearsed them thoroughly on Tuesday with Aria. If you were unable to attend that rehearsal, you must spend some quality time at the piano with these sections before Saturday.
Your hard work, as always, is appreciated and is so important.
Yours in music,