Bravi and V.T.G. Rehearsal Blog

Hi, Bravi and VTG:

Nice work last night!  I really cherish the rehearsals where we get to spend the majority of our evening together.  Once we get nearer to concert time, these will be less frequent, as we will be needed more with Vocalise.  Please make sure you’re internalizing our work together as completely as possible, so that it will “stick” later in the semester. Onto action items this week:

Action Items for this week’s rehearsal (September 25). Full instructions for each piece are further down in the blog.

  • Meditation: practice every day. Increase meditation time by 1 min. every day. See more instructions below
  • Yoga: Forward fold/swan dive flow. No less than 10 min per day. (see flow description below)
  • Caribbean Mass: “Santo” and “Agnus Dei” should be memorized by Monday; 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.
  • Convidando: Translations written in for the entire piece, including solos.  Most of you had this done, but not everyone.  I will check again, and it MUST be complete by 100% of our singers.
  • 12 Days of Christmas: Learn the next section that we started on Monday (pp. 8 – 10, letters F – H). Notes and rhythms for this section must be 100% solid.
  • Bravi singers only: Please re-learn (or learn, if you are a new singer) “Seven Bridges Road” (details below).
  • VTG singers only: review the work you did you with Lori on “Kyrie” and vocal technique (details below).

Caribbean Mass, “Santo” – Glenn McClure (SATB)

  • This is close to memory already, but must be completely memorized next week.
  • Reminder: always practice this piece with movement!  Remember the simple salsa dance step I taught you last week! Hips loose, lower center of gravity, and keep your weight on the balls of the feet.
  • Double-check that you have correctly memorized the dynamics, as you work on this. Mezzo-piano must not be too loud.
  • Basses, please insist that you are always singing the right pitches — especially in places like the page turn from p. 2 – 3, where you jump down to low B’s and A’s… they must be accurate.
  • Everyone, please review the rhythm in m. 50. In this measure, “onnipotente” comes squarely on beat 3… not before it.
  • Everyone, please review the pitches in m. 76 on the word “benedizione” and be certain you are singing the correct pitch on the correct syllable of the word! We do not have time to fix this again.
  • Everyone, please review the rhythm that begins at the end of m. 78 and repeats several times on the text “nei secoli.”
  • Basses, please review pitches in m. 96 – 99.  Many intervalic leaps here… please be sure you jump to the right pitch!
  • Basses, reminder: please take the final measure of this movement down the octave.

Caribbean Mass, “Agnus Dei” – Glenn McClure (SATB)

  • This must be completely memorized by next week.
  • Basses: descending intervals need to be cleaner — particularly leaps of a perfect fourth (m. 3-4), and perfect fifth (m. 7 – 8).  Practice this slowly, and practice it staccato.  Record yourself and listen.  Insist that you land these leaps very squarely in tune. Once you can do it consistently under tempo and staccato, gradually increase the tempo (still staccato). Finally, sing through the line as indicated by the composer, with text, no longer staccato. Record yourself and be very demanding!

Convidando – Zespedes (Bravi and VTG)

  • Review the dynamic scheme. The first juguete is mezzo-piano. All estribillo sections should be sung forte, with earthy and lively energy. The final estribillo (beginning on p. 7; the second verse — “Toquen y baylen”) should be fortissimo.
  • Remember on the word “Rayos” that we will roll the “r” with a pitch! It must start rolling one half-beat early.
  • We added a fermata on m. 34 (the second ending only).
  • We added a caesura (dramatic pause) at the very end of the piece, before the final “ay” in the second verse.  And a fermata here, too.
  • I will hear more solo auditions — particularly for tenor 2 and baritone solos — next week.  All singers should learn them and be prepared to sing them.
  • Remember: this style of music brought sacred texts to the native populations of Mexico by using Mexican dance rhythms… it should sound like a dance party! You must feel the rhythm from your feet to your head, and be ready to move your body and voice together, as one instrument.
  • Reminder:  here is a link to a folder with part tracks and diction guides.

Amani – Jim Papoulis (SATB)

Twelve Days of Christmas in Africa (Bravi and VTG)

  • I would like the first four pages (up through letter D) memorized this week.
  • Review the transition from page 7 – 8.  Hold the last note on Page 7 (the unison B natural), and practice sustaining your next pitch on the downbeat of Page 8.  Check it against the piano.  Alternate between these pitches.  Then continue in the new key.
  • Please use the YouTube link to learn the solos from letter G to the end — I will hear auditions for these solos two weeks from now.  The style has to be appropriate and the intonation has to be solid!
  • Put this together from the beginning!  You’re almost done!
  • Reminder: here’s the original video so you can sing along.

Seven Bridges Road (Bravi ONLY)

  • Bravi singers, please use this PDF to learn and/or review your parts. I will be sure you all have paper copies next week!  This needs to be memorized ASAP — the absolute last date for memory is Oct. 12, but we need to be basically ready next week.
  • Reminder for part assignments: Jerry and Ryan Chen on Tenor 1.  Ninaad, Shasta, and Alvin on the middle part (printed as Tenor 2, but more like a baritone line).  Nathan and Cameron on the top of the Bass line.  Ryan Brouchoud, Alexy, and Charlie on the bottom of the Bass line.

Caribbean Mass “Kyrie” (VTG singers, read carefully these notes from Lori)

  • You all did amazing vocal technique work on the first few sections of the Kyrie this week!  To rediscover what you found in rehearsal:
    1. First, sing several slides on a “hong” between low B (a 9th below middle C) and high E (a third above middle C).
    2. Then, practice singing your part on “hong,” using the image of stretching a rubber band vertically inside your throat and engaging your abdominal muscles, as when you do a hiss with a crescendo.
    3. Then, sing through your part on a neutral vowel – I suggest an “ooh” (rhymes with “you”) in order to encourage use of a lot of head tone, but if that gets too restrictive in the upper range, open to an “oh” or even an “ah.”  For the sections where the notes hang in the upper range, practice singing on “bo.”
    4.  Finally, add the words back in, but keep the feeling of the vertical stretch and the shape of the “ooh” in the back of the throat while engaging the abs for support.  Keep an open, loose stomach, and remember to first fill the bottom of your lungs with each breath.


Reminders for this week:

  • Be seated on your mat and quiet, ready to start our breathing meditation by 5:28. I’ll begin exactly at 5:30. This means arriving no later than 5:20.
  • Practice the standing breathing meditation (see instructions below) and the first yoga flow every day for at least 10 min. It can be done any time but best before your practice.
  • Watch and listen to performance examples listed above for each composition mentioned.
  • Write translations from the Italian and Latin texts (Mass) into your score.


“Stacking up” alignment and mediation

  • With feet parallel, press down with 5 points of each foot: inner/outer heels, mounds under small and big toes, and big toes
  • Arches lift, calves and thighs activate
  • Micro bend in knees
  • Setting the frame: hips – ribcage – shoulders
    • neutral position of hips and pelvis
    • abdomen relaxed, ribcage soft, sternum lifted – space between pelvis and ribcage expanded
    • shoulders back and down, arms relaxed
    • chin slightly tucked in, back of neck lifts and softens
    • lips, cheeks, eyelids, forehead soft
    • tongue relaxed and fills the mouth
  • Eyes closed or slightly opened with soft gaze into an imaginary candle flame
  • Bring your attention to the belly and observe the rise and fall of each breath
  • Imagine your entire body as one hollow luminous space. Breathe normally or with extended breath, exhaling fully and inhaling from low- to mid-, to upper lungs.

Happy practicing, friends!

Jace, Elena, and Lori



September 27, 2017

Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #5 – September 25, 2017

Hi, Bravi and VTG: Nice work last night!  I really cherish the rehearsals where we get to spend the majority of our evening together.  Once we get nearer to concert time, these will be less frequent, as we will be needed more with Vocalise.  Please make sure you’re internalizing our work together as completely as possible, so that it will […]
September 22, 2017

Bravi / VTG Retreat Blog – September 15 – 17, 2017

Dear VTG and Bravi: What a great retreat weekend! In Elena’s estimation, it was the most successful retreat she can recall. Bravo to you all for your hard work and your open-hearted, welcoming spirit. It is really important to build community with our newer singers in Bravi, VTG, and Vocalise, and to welcome Ensemble singers into the performing division. Our […]
September 13, 2017

Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #3 – September 11, 2017

Dear VTG and Bravi: Thanks for a productive — if BALMY — rehearsal last night.  There is so much information to cram into the beginning of the season, and I’m pleased with your ability to work hard in spite of a shortened rehearsal, lengthy orientation sessions, and an unpleasantly hot rehearsal room.   The blog will be a little shorter […]
August 31, 2017

Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #2 – August 28, 2017

Dear VTG and Bravi: Happy Labor Day weekend!  I hope you have a beautiful weekend and a nice holiday (remember there is no rehearsal this coming Monday).  …but since you have some time off, you should have PLENTY of time for regular practice!  🙂 Here are a few reminders about our expectations: Once a piece is introduced in rehearsal, it […]
August 25, 2017

Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #1 – August 21, 2017

Hi, Bravi and VTG singers! A heartfelt “welcome back” to Cantabile!  I cannot express how much it thrilled me to hear from a couple of you after rehearsal, and to learn from Lori and Elena that week one was full of camaraderie and enthusiasm. It’s going to be a great year.  So, onward to the blog and your action items! […]
May 11, 2017

May 8 – Bravi / VTG Blog for Spring Concert

Hi, Bravi and VTG Singers: I am so truly excited for our upcoming concert this weekend. The collaboration with Laura will only be made more exciting by a beautiful visual presentation and your equally beautiful singing.  This will really be a concert to remember! First, some important information for upcoming events: Friday, May 12 Dress Rehearsal,, 4:30 to 9 pm, […]
April 27, 2017

April 24 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #14

Hi, Bravi and VTG: You have made beautiful progress this year.  During this past week’s rehearsal, I was exceedingly proud of your preparedness, your flexibility, and your beautiful singing.  And what an experience and incredible opportunity we have to make music with Laura Inserra!  This will be a concert to remember, for sure. BUT!  (Isn’t there always one of these?) […]
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) […]