Vocalise Blog #8: 3/6/2017

March 6 – Bravi/VTG Rehearsal #7
March 9, 2017
Intermediate Blog # 9 Thursday March 9th
March 10, 2017

Vocalise Blog #8: 3/6/2017

Hi, Vocalise:

Thank you for Monday’s rehearsal.  Learning a large amount of new material in one rehearsal is difficult, particularly when the music is so rhythmically complex.  Keep working on it — we’ll get there!  Elena will be very excited to return next week and see the beginnings of your work on this new repertoire… and you will have a workshop with the composer herself in just a couple short weeks!  What a great opportunity.

Action Items for next Monday:

  1. Make sure “We Are a Circle” is learned confidently with rhythmic accuracy and emotional conviction so that it is ready for Elena to rehearse next week.
  2. Practice rhythms and learn pitches for “River,” up through letter “H” (which we did not yet read).
  3. Listen to the recording for “River” and follow along with your scores so you understand how the meter change feels for the final section (letter H through the end).
  4. Learn all rhythms and pitches for “This We Know.”
  5. Review divisi and your “roadmap” for “Past Life Melodies.”  Unfortunately we didn’t get to rehearse this piece last week, so please refresh your memories.  Revisit last week’s blog for a reminder on parts and divisi.
  6. Revisit all repertoire for the semester so it is fresh (“Turn the World Around,” “Famine Song,” “I Dreamed of Rain,” “Stars,” etc.).

We Are a Circle

  • Be confident and ON-TIME for every entrance. The vowel of the syllable must arrive on time, so prepare the preceding consonants early, and with lots of energy (ex: “WE” at the very beginning).  This requires that you always read ahead so you’re prepared!
  • This piece should be sung with energy and vibrancy – each repetition must mean something new.
  • Spend some time thinking about the “mood” of this song.  We came up with some very descriptive adjectives for this piece — insistent, convicted, aware, open-hearted, etc.  As you practice, please incorporate these emotions into your singing.
  • Sopranos at m. 21, practice that syncopation – the last syllable comes on the “and” of beat 4, immediately before the next downbeat.
  • Watch the changes in dynamic markings between repeats like in m. 22. – remember that piano singing shouldn’t lose intensity.  In fact, the diction must have even MORE energy when singing softly.
  • Everyone at m. 27 – Forte sempre!  (always!)
  • Practice the road map on this song – don’t let the repeats, D.S. al Coda, and coda take you by surprise.
  • No rit. at the end… and most importantly, follow your conductor.  🙂


  • Remember, you have a nice reference recording for this piece, so use it as you practice.
  •  The layered rhythms are exciting for the listener but it can be easy to get lost as a singer.  Open your ears to other parts as you practice.  It is good to count and know your own rhythms, but even BETTER to know how they fit with other parts.
  • Keep in mind the dynamic scheme as you learn your notes.  The beginning must start with urgency and excitement, but it cannot be too loud.
  • Breathe at rests, but please carry through (don’t breathe) when phrase marks and crescendos are used (ex: m. 5 should carry through from the G to the C on “There”).
  • Similarly, sopranos (part 1) should carry across the bar from m. 13 – 14.
  • Cut-offs should always be very precise, PARTICULARLY the final “t’s” for repetitions of “torn aparT, torn aparT” in mm. 16 – 18.
  • Please remain strong and sing a rich forte  from mm. 25 – 27.  No decrescendo is marked… dig into the tenuti that are marked and enjoy the brief moment of homophony.
  • Remember: four-part divisi starts at rehearsal C.  Before that, it is three-part divisi.  Mark your parts so you won’t forget!
  • Altos: text at the downbeat of m. 40 should be “torn.”
  • m. 41: the final “t” of “aparT” should come precisely together on beat 3.
  • mm. 76 – 77 should have urgency and precise diction.  “LeT Go” should have both a “t” and a “g”. Do not elide these consonants, please.

This We Know

  • Study the harmonic structure of the first page, please.  The alto parts are centered around A-flat major, while the soprano parts roughly revolve around C-minor (with an added 7th).  Bonus: what is the relationship between these two keys called?
  • Tutti (everyone) breath at the end of m. 7 and m. 9.
  • Soprano 1, pay attention to the B-flat at the end of m. 11 – 12.  It needs to be secure and must not drift down to the A-flat in Sop. 2.
  • Breathe in the middle of measures 15 and 17, on an eighth rest.  You can think of this as taking the dot off of the dotted quarter and breathing there instead.  This should be applied in all voice parts who sing this figure for the remainder of the song unless otherwise directed.
  • Altos: breathe at the end of m. 29 and m. 30.
  • Mezzos: breathe at the end of m. 30.
  • All: remember that measure 40 has urgency and passion, but should be sung piano.  There is a quick crescendo in mm. 43 – 45, but not before.
  • All: on pages 6 – 7, make sure not to sing a big American “r” on the repetitions of the word “Earth”… American “rrrr” is not a beautiful sound! For singing, think more toward a British pronunciation of “Earth,” or perhaps like the vowel in the French world “Deux” (Which means what?)  🙂
  • Review rhythms on p. 8 “We.. did not weave…”  Notice that “did” comes on little beat 4, or big beat 2, which should make it feel somewhat syncopated.  We didn’t rehearse this very thoroughly last rehearsal — perhaps you can learn this short section more accurately on your own before Monday!


Additional Announcements and Reminders:

  • Check your emails for our updated season calendars! Print them out and remind your parents that dates, times, and locations for our Spring Concert Dress Rehearsal, Spring Concert, and Recording Sessions have been updated.
  • If you are going on tour, PLEASE make sure your tour forms are filled out on cantabile.jumbula.com as soon as possible. You have until Wednesday, March 15th to fill these out!
  • Joan Szymko, the composer of all three selections from last week’s rehearsal, will be in Residency with Cantabile on Monday, March 27. This is a great opportunity for you all to work with a composer on her compositions!

Always our best,

Jace, Jazmine, Justin, and Elena


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