Vocalise Blog #7: 2/27/2017

Feb. 13 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #5
February 23, 2017
Feb. 27 – Bravi / VTG Rehearsal #6
March 3, 2017

Vocalise Blog #7: 2/27/2017

Dear Vocalise:

Thank you for a productive rehearsal last week while Elena was away.  She and I are in contact and will continue to set clear goals and dig into deeper levels of your repertoire in her absence.  She misses you greatly, as I’m sure you know!

With anything you sing, you will receive what you put into it.  This is incredibly important to remember when working on music by living composers, whose work is of the moment and often speaks to our current lives in unexpected ways.  You must dig into this repertoire and offer yourselves to it fully, even if it is hard to grasp at first.  What you put into it will return to you, if you commit 100%.


Action Items for your practice:

  1. Completely learn all pitches and rhythms for “We Are a Circle,” arranged by Joan Szymko.
  2. Read the lyrics for “We Are a Circle” and contemplate what the songwriter is saying.  These are many of the same ideas Elena teaches you weekly.
  3. Review the “roadmap” of repeats and verses for “We Are a Circle.”
  4. Review your divisi and clearly mark your part in “Past Life Melodies.”
  5. Read the program notes for “Past Life Melodies” completely, and practice finding your “chant voice.”
  6. Review notes and rhythms for “Stars” by Esenvalds, with special attention to pages 1 – 3.
  7. Learn the melodic ideas in “River,” by Joan Szymko, which we introduced at the conclusion of rehearsal.  Look ahead and study the remainder of the piece.

We Are a Circle

  • This is a rhythmic piece and should be practiced absolutely in tempo.  Practice with a metronome at 106 beats per minute.
  • Practice breathing at the rests only.  Otherwise, sing through the phrases with a lot of breath energy.
  • Pay close attention to dynamics.  They will bring life to the music and words, by breaking up the repetition.
  • Emphasize rhythms in m.14, m. 26, m. 27, etc. with either glottal strokes (/air /and sky), or slight breath accents (wa-a-ter).
  • Review your parts in mm. 14 – 22.  These entrances were not solidified during rehearsal and must be more confident.

Past Life Melodies

Review your divisi.  If you were gone last week, you will be assigned a part next week.

If you need a reminder of how the piece feels, you can listen to either this recording by Sarah Hopkins (the composer) or this recording by Chanticleer. It might still be adjusted, but here is where we left it this past week:

  • Part 1:
    • Christina
    • Celia
    • Zoe
    • Katia
    • Shreya
    • Laura Ann
    • Christiana
    • Inga
    • Juliette
  • Part 2:
    • Anna
    • Jenny
    • Sophie
    • Megan G
    • Malaina
    • Katherine
    • Lila
    • Ishani
    • Sarina
  • Part 3:
    • Josephine
    • Julia
    • Ananya
    • Emily
    • Mary
    • Lara
    • Amelia
    • Trisha
    • Preethi
  • Part 4:
    • Jessie
    • Amy
    • Kristin
    • Nicole
    • Anastasia
    • Katie
    • Nikki
  • Part 5:
    • Jerry
    • Megan T
    • Sasha D
    • Abigail
    • Ishita
    • Samantha
    • Chris
    • Franny
    • Alisha
    • Jasmine
    • Karli
    • Michelle
  • Part 6:
    • Hannah
    • Ryan
    • Namrata
    • Bomi
    • Krystal
    • Evalyn
    • Anyka
    • Alex
  • Part 7:
    • Shasta
    • Alissa
    • Daphne
    • Karuna
    • Amanda
  • Part 8:
    • Ninaad
    • Nathan
  • Part 9:
    • Nathan
    • Alexey
  • Part 10:
    • Aaron
    • Isaac
  • Part 11:
    • Simon
    • Charlie

I Dreamed of Rain

  • Quick breath after m. 7
  • Shadow vowels are the only way the text will be heard clearly. Your conductor will likely give you a clear cutoff, but you must be prepared to articulate the shadow vowels.
  • Altos: bring out the F-natural in m. 18, m. 52, and all similar instances.
  • Altos: watch your quarter note motion in m. 50 — look up and be with the conductor.


  • Listen to this recording repeatedly and follow along with your part.
  • Pay attention to breaths — sometimes they are quick (m. 4), and other times there is no breath at all (m. 5).  What might this represent?
  • Practice your cutoffs very carefully.  The affect of many t’s on the end of “very fast” in all three parts is only understood if they are precisely placed.
  • Circle meter changes in your part so you are prepared for them.


  • Review the words and notes at the beginning (up through m. 38).
  • If you are not sure of divisi quite yet, that’s okay.  Use your best judgment and we’ll make decisions soon.
  • Exaggerate the dynamics.  The soft dynamic of the opening is only exciting by way of contrast with the rich, full tone you need to create on page 3.


Other announcements and reminders:







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