Bravi and V.T.G. Rehearsal Blog

Hi, Bravi and VTG:

Thanks for an excellent rehearsal last week.  We’ll have more photos and video this week, so please come prepared!

PICTURES and VIDEO at next rehearsal! What to wear:

Any cantabile T-shirt (tour, black Cantabile casual, Lord of the Rings…)

Bottoms: Yoga pants Ok or stretchy jeans for girls (no skirts, please), boys — shorts or pants that will allow you to sit cross-legged, and bend forward.

Bring your Cantabile mat.


Action Items:

  1. Memorize and physicalize “We Are a Circle”
  2. Work toward memorization for “Past Life Melodies”
  3. Memorize “Esti Dal”
  4. Refine and polish “Rain Music”
  5. Attend Sunday rehearsal, if possible!

We Are a Circle – Joan Szymko

  • Rehearse this it at slightly slower tempo — perhaps closer to 94 or 100 bpm.
  • Bravi / VTG singers and second sopranos: sing softer at m. 15.  You are restating the melody ,which we’ve heard many times by now.  Sing mezzo-piano or perhaps mezzo-forte.  Make space for the new parts to be heard.

Past Life Melodies – Sarah Hopkins

  • Practice this piece immediately after your meditation — when you are deeply connected to your breath and clear-headed.  
  • Before practicing this, spend a few moments reflecting on the happiest moments in your life. Infuse this music with that joy, from the first hum to the final overtone.
  • When we switch to “ah” at letter A, bring the sound into your cheeks with a smile.  The composer’s note says; “Heart sound: full of love and warmth.”
  • When we switch to “yeah” at letter B, continue to smile and bring the sound forward, with bright energy.  The composer’s note says “Joyous and liberated.”  Think about what those words mean to you, and how we experience them in each Cantabile rehearsal.
  • Part 4 and Part 10 are very important at letter B; particularly when you move up a whole step from D-natural to E-natural.  The E-natural is the only added pitch at this point, and it needs to be lifted high to form a bright perfect fifth with the A-natural drone below you.
  • At letter D, the “nair nair nair” melody must be very energetic, in spite of the balance being stacked against you.
  • All parts who sing “nair nair nair” should check the pitches at the end of the first phrase and second phrase (on p. 4, it’s the second measure of each system) — there is a repeated A-natural which not being sung accurately in the first phrase, and a C-natural which is not being sung accurately in the second phrase.
  • Continue experimenting with overtones. Each sound should be held for at least a second of two — focus each vowel and avoid directionless mouth noise. At this point, Bravi overtone singers should be Nathan, Ninaad, and Ryan.  Everyone else (and all of VTG) should sing the drone on a hum. 
  • Work toward memory, please.
  • VTG, I’m so happy we’ve added you to this piece… it’s a lot of fun to perform.  But you have some catching up to do!  Please use this recording by the composer and this recording by Chanticleer as practice aids.  Listen closely for the overtones at the end!

Esti Dal – Zoltan Kodaly

  • Continue your diction practice — the tenors are doing a great job, and the rest of you need to rise to their level of preparedness.  Keep working on it!
  • Bass 1 (Alexy and Charlie) — spend some time practicing with the piano and playing the held Bass 2 low G while you sing your part.  Make sure the intervals ring true and that your intonation is solid.  You are often in fourths or fifths with the Bass 2 part.  Your part solidifies and defines the harmony and it’s crucial that your intonation is solid.
  • Everyone:  please practice pulsing the rhythm on “doo doo doo doo” or “dee dee dee dee,” subdividing on eighth notes.  It’s imperative that all harmonic shifts occur precisely in time, and exactly together.
  • Bass parts: please review the pitches in mm. 13-21, which were shaky last week.  If text is tripping you up, remove the text and practice on a neutral syllable to ensure you are singing precisely in time and in tune.

Rain Music – Laura Farnell

  • Memory was almost there, but lots of details are missing.  Dynamics, cutoffs, and timbre are all just as important as the right notes and rhythms.  Please spend some time looking carefully through your score, ensuring that all the finer points are memorized, too.
  • “We perform the way we practice,” said a wise director (I don’t remember who!)  So, practice your facial expression and physical engagement. What are you singing about?  And why?  How are you going to communicate this with your audience?
  • Middle-part divisi was often hanging a bit flat this past week — particularly the open fifths on “Rain on the Earth Drum!”  Please make sure these fifths are bright and high.  Sing with an open throat and think of sending the sound into your cheeks and forehead, so it rings with the same vibrancy as the tenor high G.


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 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
  • Seniors SEND IN YOUR PARAGRAPHS AND PHOTOS. They are due this Monday, April 10th. Please email your submissions to
  • 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.
  • Sunday rehearsals for Bravi are back!  This Sunday, rehearsal will be at Simon’s grandparents’ home from 3:00 – 5:00pm.  Please attend if you can. Their address is 227 Verano Drive, in Los Altos.

Always our best,

Jace, Elena, and Justin



April 6, 2017

April 3 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #11

Hi, Bravi and VTG: Thanks for an excellent rehearsal last week.  We’ll have more photos and video this week, so please come prepared! PICTURES and VIDEO at next rehearsal! What to wear: Any cantabile T-shirt (tour, black Cantabile casual, Lord of the Rings…) Bottoms: Yoga pants Ok or stretchy jeans for girls (no skirts, please), boys — shorts or pants […]
March 30, 2017

March 27 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #10

Hi, Bravi and VTG: We are moving ever forward!  What an experience to work with Joan Szymko on her music, as well as some of our other repertoire.  I’d like each of you to spend some time this week, during your practice, reflecting on our time with her.  What did you learn?  What new insights did you gain?  Did she make […]
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 9, 2017

March 6 – Bravi/VTG Rehearsal #7

Hi, Bravi and VTG: Thanks for your work these last two weeks, which has largely been separate from my agenda with Vocalise while Elena has been out of town.  Next week, things should be much more like normal… if there is such a thing in Cantabile!  🙂 Here are some notes for your practice this week: Action Items for next […]
March 3, 2017

Feb. 27 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #6

Action Items Learn “We are a Circle” Find the beauty in “I Dreamed of Rain” and refine intonation/accuracy Listen to “Past Life Melodies” and follow your part, making sure it’s pencilled in. Listen to Esti Dal and familiarize yourself with the melody and counterpoint.   We Are a Circle Review roadmap – you’re alway singing the melody Make sure your […]
February 23, 2017

Feb. 13 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #5

Hi, Bravi and VTG: I hope you’re enjoying your week off, and that you all had a chance to rest, celebrate, and re-focus!  We have lots of new repertoire coming your way over the next few weeks, and all of your conductors are looking forward to getting back to work. Simon’s notes from last week’s rehearsal are below.  Please review […]
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 […]