April 10 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #12

Vocalise Blog #13: 4/10/2017
April 13, 2017
Intermediate Blog # 14 Thursday April 13th
April 14, 2017

April 10 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #12

Hi, Bravi and VTG:

We are quickly approaching the final rehearsals of the semester and the very exciting opportunities to perform our Spring concerts with our guest artist, Laura Inserra. (Take a few minutes to look  through her website, where she has lots of information about the instruments she creates and plays.) She’s a fascinating person and we are very fortunate to collaborate with her.  This coming week is our last before Laura joins us.

Rehearsing with Laura will require incredible passion, focus, and dedication.  These are not new concepts — we reinforce them weekly.  Unfortunately, the latest string of absences, illnesses, and conflicts have left our rehearsals feeling somewhat less cohesive than usual. Your conductors are aware that some of these absences have been due to Spring Break, and we hope your travels were restful and safe.

Nonetheless this means missed rehearsal time, and this time is crucial… especially in a small group like Bravi.  It is IMPERATIVE that you spend considerable time practicing this week, especially if you have been absent recently.  We need you to return to rehearsal ready to pick up exactly where we left off.  There is no time for repetition and re-learning.  During your practice this week, make sure everything is 100% memorized.  Revisit the scores after your practice to be sure the way you have memorized is really accurate.

I’d also like you each to spend time with the mirror, rehearsing and watching to be sure that your face conveys the passion and message of each piece.  I know each of you feels strongly about the music we sing, but too often that is lost in translation when we take the stage.  Your job is a performer is to present this to the audience and invite them into our experience. This is not optional.  “We hear first with our eyes,” said a very smart conductor to me… and your visual presentation will ultimately be just as important as your beautiful singing.

Action Items

  1. When reading the blog, enter all markings and comments into your score, per detailed descriptions below.  I will check to be sure this has happened.
  2. All your home practicing from now on must be done IN FRONT OF A MIRROR. Make your face and body language sincerely and organically reflect YOUR feelings about the song’s message. Again, this is NOT optional — we have been working on this conceptually and physically for months. It’s time we have results. Watch these videos to see excellent examples of a natural way to be expressive and, in the second video, how to sing acknowledging singers around you when there is no conductor.
  3. Review the Vocalise SATB repertoire that we have not rehearsed in several weeks, such as “Turn the World Around” and “There Has to Be a Song,” as well a “Imagine.”  At this point, everything should be practiced regularly and kept “fresh.”
  4. LEARN and memorize the choreography for Famine Song… And watch the original rendition of the song by VIDA
  5. Everything from this semester should be memorized this coming Monday — April 17.  Exceptions will be made for VTG singers who are learning new parts on “Imagine” or “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”  (Please have these memorized by May 2.)

Famine Song – VIDA, arr. Matthew Culloton

  • Review your choreography for the “Rain” sections – experiment with connecting your motion to what you are doing vocally. What did you discover?
  • Sing facing a mirror and pay attention to what your face is doing. Find ways to connect with this piece emotionally and see how doing so changes your expression.
  • Tenors and Basses: in the “Rain” sections keep focusing on unifying your vowels and tone.
  • Tenors: please review your part on the first two pages — m. 11 does NOT have a B-natural.  You should still be singing “hmm” with the basses.  The B-natural on “ooh” enters later, on measure 15 (and please enter confidently — you are the only part on this pitch).
  • At mm. 48-49 and mm. 52-53, those parts can be sung with more intensity still – make the contrast between the tenuti and legato clearer; do not breathe between measures 49 and 50 and measures 53 and 54.
  • In the same section, the word “the” is the least important – do not emphasize it.

Rain Music – Farnell

  • Mirror practice is very important on this piece.  What are you communicating?  How are you showing it with your face?
  • If “Famine Song” is a desperate plea for rain, perhaps this is a more hopeful one.  Think about what you’re singing about:  the power of the Earth to renew itself.  It’s miraculous, really, even though we take it for granted.
  • Remember that the urgency in this piece should never sound aggressive.  Make sure you have a sparkle in your eye… not an angry look.  🙂

Esti Dal – Kodály

  • Memory is almost there.  It MUST BE 100% BY MONDAY.
  • Review your parts with the help of these practice tracks (new this week!).
  • Tenors: Your first word is “er-dö,” with an umlaut.  This should be mixed vowel (somewhat like the vowel in our word “Earth”), not a pure “oh.”
  • Tenors — your challenge and your priority this week, needs to be a commitment to true LEGATO and expressive PHRASING.  The diction is mostly good, but it has become accurate at the expense of vocal beauty and expression.  Lengthen each vowel as much as possible.  Breathe more athletically. Strive to sing each phrase without breathing in the middle of it.
  • Lower parts, spend time with the score — study the intervals you are creating with the others around you.  Each of them must ring “true,” and must sound both sonorous and effortless.

Past Life Melodies – Hopkins

  • Keep up the hard work on this!
  • Memorize, memorize, memorize.  There are so many practice recordings available in past blogs.  Start thinking numerically.  How many repeats of each section are there?  If you are in part 10 or 11 and sit on a low drone for the last four pages of the piece, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to know how many repetitions of “nair nair nair” occur before your pitch changes, or before you begin singing overtones.
  • Speaking of overtones — overtone singers, please practice.  Ryan, you’re acing it!  Here are a couple helpful links that will assist you in creating and perfecting overtones:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHTF1-IhuC0  and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w42DQoZ-z_c


Additional Announcements and Reminders:

  • No Sunday rehearsal this week.
  • 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 www.cantabile.org/experience-cantabile/web-of-life
  • 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.

Always our best,

Jace, Elena, and Justin



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