Dear Bravi and Con Brio:
Here is your weekly blog: the first of several that happen in the new paradigm of online “rehearsals.” What an unusual time this is for all of us to be living through — historians will write about it, with certainty. Not only about how this experience strained the fabric of our society, but also about the innovative and creative ways that people adapted to keep on with their daily lives during difficult times.
I am admittedly feeling pretty heartbroken that I won’t see you for several Monday nights to enjoy your enthusiasm, hard work, and the inspiring way that you interact during our regular rehearsals. But we must persevere, and I know you will work hard… as some of the most dedicated, artistically driven, and passionate young people I’ve meet, I have no doubt about this!
Weekly action items will require you to submit some recordings to me each week. I will share written feedback with each of you about your recordings. Please pay close attention to these action items and deadlines — they will not be huge, but they are very important to continue our forward musical trajectory. Consider them to be just as important as attendance at regular rehearsals would be. Furthermore, look at them as a chance to explore more fully your individual vocal technique and personal sound, which is sometimes more difficult to focus on during group rehearsals. Use each recording as an opportunity to sing in the most beautiful, musical way that you can.
Additionally, while large-group singing via FaceTime/Zoom is pretty difficult, one-on-one and small groups are much easier. I know the social part of Cantabile is a cornerstone of stability for many of you, so I highly encourage creativity and virtual meetups to learn notes/rehearse together. FaceTime your friends, student conductor, etc. Take a cue from the Italians — just because you are stuck at home, it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep singing. 🙂
Here we go!
ACTION ITEMS FOR THIS WEEK – DUE BY WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18:
- Kyrie from Delibes Mass – Learn all pitches. Listen to recordings (below).Record your part on video and send to me by the end of Thursday 3/19.If you weren’t at rehearsal Monday, please download and print the score here.
- Gloria from Delibes Mass – Begin note-learning work. Write in the entire English translation from page 4 – 11.
- For ALL movements of this Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, O Salutaris, Agnus Dei): Transfer ALL dynamic/tempo markings from this score into your score. Be very thorough. Note that your part doesn’t appear in this version — however, your markings should mirror those of the treble parts above your part, or the accompaniment below.
- Shenandoah – Practice with the recording (below). Learn all pitches.
If you weren’t at rehearsal Monday, please download and print the score here.
- Plenty Good Room – Practice with the recording (below). Learn all pitches.
If you weren’t at rehearsal Monday, please download and print the score here.
- Weekly Choral Listening & Response (See immediately below)
WEEKLY CHORAL LISTENING
Here’s something new during our time away from in-person rehearsals. Each week I will share with you a choral piece that I would like you to listen to in full. My choices are based on the quality of the ensemble, the style of repertoire, etc. Here is this week’s piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9zgq5qrNGw (Beati quorum via, by C.V. Stanford, sung by Voces8 — a world-renowned professional British octet. I chose this piece because it has some commonalities with the Delibes Mass that we are learning… but also quite a few differences.
Listen with a critical, informed, and curious ear, and please write me a quick message that addresses:
- General impressions: do you like it or not, and most importantly — WHY? Be specific — use the following points of analysis:
- A quick analysis of the piece itself: using SHMRGL! 🙂 Shrmgl is an unfortunate sounding acronym that gives a framework for musical analysis:
Sound – How do you describe the overall sound?
Harmony – Is the harmony consonant or dissonant? Homophonic / Polyphonic?
Melody – Describe the melody – is it memorable? angular? flowing? stepwise?
Rhythm – Is there a clear meter? Does tempo drive the piece, or not?
Growth – How does the piece develop? Is there a clear climax or does it ebb/flow?
Language – What Language do you hear? Might it be sacred or secular?
…Tell me a bit about what you hear in each of these categories.
- Send me an email by the end of Thursday (3/19) addressing some/all the SHMRGL components.
Kyrie, from Messe Brève – Léo Delibes
- Here is a recorded version with all three vocal parts in the middle of the frame, with the score featured. I recommend listening once, then practicing along with it until you are very comfortable with your part. This recording goes rather slowly but this is useful for learning.
- Here is a recorded version with only the treble parts. It does NOT include your part. Note that you come in on the downbeat of m. 7, which is at approximately 0:15 in the video. I recommend practicing with this once you know your part very well.
- The translation for this piece is very simple: Kyrie eleison = Lord have mercy. Christe eleison = Christ have mercy.
- Note that your part often sits rather high in tessitura for basses. Basses, please sing with a light head-voice tone and a relaxed, open jaw. If the note is too high, falsetto is a good idea.
- Keep all vowels pure, tall, and forward in the mouth. Remember there are only FIVE vowels in Latin: “ah,” “eh” “ee” “oh” and “oo”. Even unaccented syllables must be sung on one of these pure vowels.
- Treat the “s” in the middle of the word “eleison” as a true “s,” not a “z.”
- For your video recording (due by Thursday 3/19 at the end of the day), you have two options:
- Sing a cappella
- Sing with this video playing in the background.
… in either case, please sing the entire thing from beginning to end. You can use your music.
- UPLOAD YOUR VIDEO HERE. Please do not alter, move, or listen to others’ recordings. 🙂
Gloria from Messe Brève – Léo Delibes
For now, general familiarity with the piece is the goal. Please use the same recordings above as you learn.
Here is a translation. The page also includes some interesting historical context about the text, which was written at least 1400 years prior to the composition of this piece in the 1800s. Write in the English translation for every single word below the Latin. It is important that you know what you are singing about in this rather lengthy and text-heavy movement.
- Note that in the opening and final sections, Elena would like us to connect from “Gloria –> in excelsis Deo” (m. 3, 5, 7, 26, etc.).
- The same holds true for “Quoniam –> tu solus sanctus” (m. 106, 108, etc.)
- Be very precise with the chromatic line at m. 139.
Shenandoah – Traditional American, arr. James Erb
Read about the history of this piece here. It is one of the most famous American folksongs, and its origin stories are as uncertain as many of our most beloved pieces.
Here is a recording of Chanticleer singing this arrangement (though the beginning is taken from another arrangement). Strive for this same smooth legato tone and commitment to phrase shaping and dynamics. Additionally, please enjoy my ugly, floppy 2009 hair.
Plenty Good Room – Spiritual, arr. William Henry Smith
Read about the history of this style here. This is one of the oldest and most jubilant spirituals. See if you can identify the “call-and-response” section of this piece.
Here is a recording by the American Spiritual Ensemble. Strive to emulate their excellent tone and vowels.
- Dynamic range should be huge in this style. Vibrant, rich forte, and well-supported, brilliantly shimmering pianissimo… and everything in between
- Remember that diction in Spiritual singing should be excellently pronounced, and all vowels should sound tall and “classical,” to highlight the sophistication of this music.
- Observe all repeats as in the recording
ADDITIONAL ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REMINDERS
- No Monday or Sunday rehearsals for now until 4/13. We will be in touch soon with more instructions on how we plan to proceed.
Wash your hands, meditate and practice yoga often, sing even more often, stay safe, and please reach out to me if you have any questions!