Greetings Avanti, on this warm and sunny February day! In Prelude II, the kids and I talked about how this is a special year in which February “gets an extra day added on”. Hey, sometimes even the planet Earth needs a little catch up time! In that spirit, there is no new Musicianship assignment this week. If you need a “leap week” to catch up on your assignments, you have been so granted.
Elena and I are very proud of your excellent progress with your repertoire! When you are all present, healthy, and singing together, your sound is quite wonderful. As Elena said, now is the time to clean up any remaining fuzzy notes and rhythms – all those tiny errors add up quickly! Your personal attention to detail is what pulls us into focus.
Ideas and Reference
Next week we will begin Songs for the People, by Dr. Andrea Ramsey. The text Dr. Ramsey used to set her music is by poet Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Read the excerpt below from The Poetry Foundation. Consider the contributions and achievements of Frances Harper; especially in a time when people of her race and gender experienced such devastating levels of hardship.
As artists, we have the unique privilege of breathing new life into this poet’s words! We connect her poetic creation to modern people!
Engraved portrait of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper from The Underground Railroad by William Still. (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
Born in Baltimore, poet, fiction writer, journalist, and activist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was the only child of free African American parents. She was raised by her aunt and uncle after her mother died when Frances was three years old. She attended the Academy for Negro Youth, a school run by her uncle, until the age of 13, and then found domestic work in a Quaker household, where she had access to a wide range of literature. After teaching for two years in Ohio and Pennsylvania, she embarked on a career as a traveling speaker on the abolitionist circuit. She helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad and wrote frequently for anti-slavery newspapers, earning her a reputation as the mother of African American journalism.
She married Fenton Harper in 1860. He brought to the marriage three children of his own, and together they had a daughter. When her husband died in 1864, Harper continued to support her family though speaking engagements. During Reconstruction she was an activist for civil rights, women’s rights, and educational opportunities for all. She was superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women’s Christian Temperance Union, co-founder and vice president of the National Association of Colored Women, and a member of the American Women’s Suffrage Association. Harper was also the director of the American Association of Colored Youth.
And here is her poem, in its’ entirety:
“Songs For The People”
Let me make the songs for the people,
Songs for the old and young;
Songs to stir like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.
Not for the clashing of sabres,
For carnage nor for strife;
But songs to thrill the hearts of men
With more abundant life.
Let me make the songs for the weary,
Amid life’s fever and fret,
Till hearts shall relax their tension,
And careworn brows forget.
Let me sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Sweet anthems of love and duty,
To float o’er life’s highway.
I would sing for the poor and aged,
When shadows dim their sight;
Of the bright and restful mansions,
Where there shall be no night.
Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.
Music to soothe all its sorrow,
Till war and crime shall cease;
And the hearts of men grown tender
Girdle the world with peace.
Here are the newly provided rehearsal tracks:
Songs For The People, Balanced Voices
Songs For The People, Alto
Songs For The People, Sop 2
Songs For The People, Sop 1
Ol Time Religion, Balanced Voices
Ol Time Religion, Accompaniment Only
Ol Time Religion, Sop 1
Ol Time Religion, Sop 2
Ol Time Religion, Alto
Will There Really Be a “Morning”? Balanced Voices
Will There Really Be a “Morning”? Accompaniment Only
Will There Really Be a “Morning”? Sop 1
Will There Really Be a “Morning”? Sop 2 (Alto)
El Cielo, Balanced Voices
El Cielo, Accompaniment Only
El Cielo, Sop 1
El Cielo, Sop 2
El Cielo, Alto
*Avanti Gala Singers: You will be receiving an email with details about dress for the Gala, so please be on the lookout for that!
The single most important thing to remember about Musical Theater repertoire is that it TELLS A STORY. So who is the story teller in this scenario?? YOU ARE! Your parents (who hopefully will be in the audience) have probably read to you and told you stories your whole life….well now IT IS YOUR TURN. Do whatever you must to get that music learned, and under your belt, (LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN TO THE REH TRACKS) and then let yourself tell THEM the story. Animate your face, open your eyes WIDE, let your body move to the beat and….. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED! Yes, you are surrounded by older, more advanced singers but if you have done your work, then you absolutely belong there! Stand tall, take up your space in the room, breath deeply, and sing like I know you can.