Bravi and V.T.G. Rehearsal Blog

Hi, VTG and Bravi:

In what has been a difficult and overwhelming week in our country, I am reminded of just how important our time together is.  I love my work with Cantabile because I almost always get to see people at their best: working hard, creating beautiful things, holding each other up, and coming together.  And you all choose to do so week after week, in your free time, because you want to. I may not say it enough, but I want to make sure you know that you are doing what I consider to be the most important thing we can do — working together on something that improves our world, and improves our lives.  I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for you all, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to make music with you each week.  It is one of the few things that I am certain about in this confusing world of ours: this work is important.  Thank you.

We are nearing the part of the season where polishing and detail work is our focus, and while this can feel like a lot of “work,” please remember the reasons you are here in the first place.  And remind yourselves of our end goal: to share this hard work in a joyful, engaging performance. It is worth it!

So, with that said, onto the matters at hand.  Here are your action items for this week:

Action Items for our Oct. 9th rehearsal. Full instructions for each piece are further down in the blog.

  • Caribbean Mass: Santo and Agnus Dei Memorized; Credo and Kyrie completely learned with words, close to memorization. Work hard on the Italian.
  • Convidando: This should be almost memorized now. Please review the second half and work hard on the Spanish.
  • 12 Days of Christmas: Up through letter G should be almost memorized. Learn letter G – I thoroughly this week.
  • West Virginia (Bravi only): This is high priority. Must be learned by next week and almost memorized.
  • Seven Bridges Road (Bravi only): This is also high priority. Please spend a lot of time with the portions we re-learned last week and be ready to memorize the rest ASAP.
  • Yoga: Forward fold/swan dive flow, palm tree. No less than 10 min per day. 
  • Meditation: practice every day. You should be up to 10 min a day now.


12 Days of Christmas in Africa (VTG + Bravi), arr. Straight No Chaser

  • Remember, this week, you are responsible for having all notes and pitches learned for the sections we covered last week, including the new material from pages 8 – 11, up through letter I (measure 86).  We will try to finish up this week, but can only do so if we are solidly in control of the rest of the piece
  • Please make sure you thoroughly practice with all the dynamics we added! There were lots. If you missed the markings, please reach out so myself or Ninaad can get them to you.
  • Remember — accents on practically every number you say “NINE ladies dancing, EIGHT maids a milking, SEVEN swans,” etc.).
  • As always, you are welcome to practice with the original, here:

Convidando (VTG + Bravi), by Zespedes

  • Practice and polish all Spanish pronunciation before next week.  The first half of the song (juguete + estribillo) was in fairly good shape, but the second half (starting with “alegres quando festivas”) was still under-rehearsed and under-prepared.
  • By now, you should have all your translations written in for every verse.
  • The solo plan, for now, is as follows:
    1. Verse 1 solo: Jerry (Tenor)
    2. Verse 2 duet: Ninaad (Tenor 1) + Nathan (Tenor 2)
    3. Verse 3 duet: Jerry (Tenor 1) + Nathan (Tenor 2)
    4. Verse 4 trio: Ninaad (Tenor 1) + Nathan (Tenor 2) + Saman (Baritone)
  • Please remember the final caesura before the very last statement of “Ay!”

All-Searching Sight (SATB), arr. by Tim Sharp

We read through this new piece commissioned from Tim Sharp, for our event in two weeks.  Tim will be here for the commissioning event and will work with us at rehearsal that Monday (Oct. 16).  It is an arrangement of a shape-note hymn (does anyone know the title of the hymn? It is not “All-searching Sight,” by the way…).  This hymn comes from a collection of shape-note hymns called Kentucky Harmony.  Read more about the Shape-Note tradition here.  

Caribbean Mass (SATB), by Glenn McClure

  • Remember, it is practically impossible to disconnect movement from singing when practicing this repertoire.  Move as you practice, and practice moving.  Your hips should be loose, your knees should be slightly bent as to move easily, your legs should feel alive, and you should flow with the rhythm from your feet all the way through your body.
  • We began “Altissimo” last week.  Please learn the notes and rhythms for this piece.  There is lots of repetition, so please start thinking in numbers (i.e., repeat this pattern three times before we move on, etc.)
  • Pay close attention to all cut-offs in “Altissimo.”  The empty spaces in music can be just as important as the singing — please make sure you are “off” when you are supposed to be.
  • In the Agnus Dei, practice stomping on the downbeats as the meter changes (particularly downbeats with rests, such as those before “qui tollis peccata…”). This will help you internalize these meter changes easily.
  • Use the following listening guides to assist you:

Amani (SATB), by Jim Papoulis: Lots of work is already done in the past, but we will revisit this piece on Monday with the rest of Vocalise… please be ready!  Here is a recording for practice:

West Virginia (Bravi only)

  • Reminder: all singers are singing the bottom line (the “bass”) in unison, along with Aria on the upper lines. You are the rhythmic and harmonic foundation of this piece, so it must be very precise!
  • Reminder: all eight notes are swung.
  • As you practice, remember that you should keep the “d” and the vowel (“oo”) very short, closing immediately to the “mmm” sound on each pitch. As you do so, make sure you close the lips but leave the teeth open and the inside of the mouth round, so that we get a nice, warm sound that resembles the plucking of a string bass.
  • This will need to be memorized for the commissioning event, so aim to have it memorized by next week, please.

Seven Bridges Road (Bravi only)

  • We did a good bit of re-writing and re-learning old parts for this past rehearsal.  Please be sure you are quite sure what you are singing on each line. It is now your responsibility. We will finish it this coming week!
  • The vocal “fall” at the end of each line must be carefully timed — exactly one quarter note worth of time on the held pitch, THEN fall quickly.  This must be done in absolute unison in order to sound stylistically correct.  Tip: record yourself doing this with a metronome.  See if your held pitch really lasts one beat, and aim to fall very quickly after that.  Insist that you are precisely with the metronome.
  • This will need to be memorized for the commissioning event, so aim to have it mostly memorized by next week, please (at least the first 2/3, which we covered in last week’s rehearsal).


Other announcements:

  • ALL BRAVI SINGERS MUST RSVP FOR THE COMMISSIONING EVENT WITH TIM SHARP ON OCT. 15. This is a mandatory commitment for you, but we need to see that you are, indeed, coming.  Currently only half of you have RSVP’d.
  • Please invite your family to this event (Bravi and VTG are both invited). It should be a very fun afternoon. Details can be found in the Scoop.

Happy Practicing!

-Jace, Elena, and Lori

October 5, 2017

Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #6 – October 2, 2017

Hi, VTG and Bravi: In what has been a difficult and overwhelming week in our country, I am reminded of just how important our time together is.  I love my work with Cantabile because I almost always get to see people at their best: working hard, creating beautiful things, holding each other up, and coming together.  And you all choose to do […]
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?) […]