Vocalise Rehearsal #7 – 10/16/17

Prep 3 Blog #6 Week of October 16, 2017
October 20, 2017
October 18, 2017/Rehearsal #9
October 21, 2017

Vocalise Rehearsal #7 – 10/16/17

(Please note:  there are several announcements with call times for events and other important information at the end of this blog.)

Oct. 20th, 2017

Dear Vocalise,

Firstly — Congratulations!

Last Monday’s masterclass with Dr. Time Sharp was outstanding. Your sincere and deep engagement with Dr. Sharp and with everything he brought into the rehearsal that night was formidable; Dr. Sharp was moved by your compassion and eagerness to learn and most impressed by your skills and artistry.

Jace, Lori and I are immensely proud of you and the way you represented Cantabile to Tim, who is not only a composer, scholar and performer but also one of the most influential leaders of the choral art and movement in the world (as you recall, Dr. Sharp is the Executive Director of American Choral Directors Association and an executive board member of the International Federation for Choral Music).

Secondly — Thank you!

For being great hosts not only to Dr. Sharp but also to a large number of parents who joined us at the end of the rehearsal. I could tell from the way many of the parents walked into the room and hesitantly took seats in the singing circle that quite a few of them had no idea they were about to hear about a passionate story about American folk music from the Appalaccia OR, to make it even more surprising, that they were about to SING!

It was your warm welcome, contagious interest in what was being presented AND your strong, unwavering singing (even when you were sightreading!) that made your parents feel at ease and willing to lift their voices, locking them with your song.

Just think about it — if your parent was in the room last Monday, you got to shape an absolutely new piece of music with them. This is very unique and powerful.

And Finally — Onward!

Now, we are on to the next challenge and great opportunity of our 2017-2018 season —

Our Oct. 28th guest appearance with Cappella SF professional chamber choir and their conductor Ragnar Bohlin. Your weekend preparations, our Monday rehearsal and a few days between rehearsal and concert should focus on the repertoire for that event.


ACTION ITEMS FOR OCT. 23d REHEARSAL. (Full instructions for each piece are further down in the blog.)


  • 2nd Yoga flow and meditation is a part of your daily routine. No less than 10 min. A day, 10 rounds of the flow, with articulation and full connection to breath.
  • Cantique and Angel  MUST Be Memorized 100%. No ifs, buts, maybes. Listen to these recordings for inspiration and language:

Angel (another recording by a Russian youth choir) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUZ1SXpUDL4

Cantique: Still my favorite recording of the piece https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK98eBpw9yM

And here is diction recording from Jace to practice and polish.

Know the exact translation of every word in both languages and be able to recite the text (not in rhythm of the song, but as a poem.)

Practice singing Angel with the accompaniment attached.


  • Vivos Voco: Have your part learned solid. Find out about St. Julian of Norwich. Know exact meaning of each word. Practice with metronome to memorize precise tempi.


  • Caribbean Mass:
  • Altissimo, Kyrie, Credo: learned, start memorizing
  • Santo, Agnus Dei: Memorized



As you remember, Dr. Sharp gave Vocalise excellent feedback on their performance of Angel and Cantique de Jean Racine.  Some key insights were:

  • As an adjudicator, Tim looks for a 100% engagement from 100% of the choir – the singers in the back row must be just as inspiring and emotive as the ones in the front. As performers, we create this “bubble” of an experience for our audience.  Any singer not 100% engaged will disturb the bubble and hinder the experience.
  • We encourage you to take some time to reflect on the creative process we shared as Dr. Sharp worked on “All Searching Sight.” Such process is not always a precise art, and requires equal participation from everyone, with an open mind and willingness to try different things. Your conductors were very proud of your openness and willingness to experiment and play with the music during his workshop… and very thankful you took the time to learn the pitches and rhythms so Tim could go through his process. Imagine being in Dr. Sharp’s shoes. He created a choral “mash-up” of sorts; blending two pieces he knew well, from very different styles. He had an idea about how it would sound, but he wasn’t certain the piece worked until he heard you sing it! This inspired him to dig deeper into dynamics, to clarify the elements of his piece that he liked, and to bring out the elements that needed to be more present. Then came experimentation with rhythm and added sound effects to fill in the space between phrases and verses. Some of these concepts were completely improvised, which is often part of this process. (Did you know that many of Bach’s pieces for piano and organ are thought to be transcriptions of his improvisations?). Because of this exchange, a new piece of music exists in our library and in the broader world!
  • When there is a change in the music (ie, moving from the A section to the B section), be sure you know what the text is and why the change is there.  This new focus of the text and emotion should be expressed visually as well as musically.  In Angel, this change happens abruptly on the fourth beat of ms. 18, so the change in expression has to happen quickly.
  • Cantique de Jean Racine – there should be seamless line and shape to each phrase, building up to the high point of the phrase and tapering away.  Tim suggested that we should almost “let the audience fill in the last note,” meaning that we should sing it so softly as for the audience to not actually hear it, but to register it by filling it in with their own ear.


Vivos Voco, by Joan Szymko (b.1953)

A reminder of things we worked on and several concepts we learned:

  • Count singing – – an excellent tool to learn rhythm. Practice the entire piece with count-singing at least once before the next rehearsal.
  • Tempo Map: composer Joan Szymko, as you remember from working with her last year, is known for her attention to precision of tempi. Her scores are marked with exact tempi quarter=68, then q=92, 102 etc. Many composers simply say “faster” or “livelier” others have character remarks “infused with energy”, “excited”… But not Joan — she sticks with numbers. Using metronome, practice speaking and singing your part in exact tempi that are indicated in the score. As much as you can memorize different markings — 68, 92, 102, 78.  
  • Vowels and tone quality: Throughout the piece, we need vertically shaped, long and rich vowels, and dramatic, dedicated, sharp, decisive consonants.  We worked on this specifically on pg. 5-7.  Consonants should come just slightly before the beat so you can be open to the vowel on the beat.
  • Be sure to make your entrance clean, clear and strong in the section that is ms. 40-65 and listen for the other voice parts entrances.

Angel, by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), poem by Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841)

Keep working to commit the words and their meaning to memory.  Then  you are able to employ your whole being — mind, body, heart and voice to the shape of the phrase or to the text or to a big crescendo leading to the climax of the piece.



Cantique de Jean Racine:

About the text: It is a translation, by the 17th century French dramatist Jean Racine, (1639-1699) of a medieval Latin hymn. When Gabriel Fauré set the translation to music, he gave it the title Cantique de Jean Racine, rather than the title of the original hymn.


Verbe, égal au Très-Haut, notre unique espèrance,
  Word, equal to the Almighty, our only hope,

Jour éternel de la terre et des cieux;

    Eternal light of the earth and the Heavens;

De la paisible nuit nous rompons le silence,
 We break the peaceful night’s silence,

Divin Sauveur, jette sur nous les yeux!       Divine Saviour, cast your eyes upon us!

Répands sur nous le feu de ta grâce puissante, 
Spread the fire of your mighty grace upon us

Que tout l’enfer fuie au son de ta voix; 
May the entire hell flee at the sound of your voice;

Dissipe le sommeil d’une âme languissante,    Disperse from any slothful soul the drowsiness

Qui la conduit à l’oubli de tes lois!  
 Inducing it to forget your laws!

O Christ, sois favorable à ce peuple fidèle Oh Christ, look with favour upon this faithful people

Pour te bénir maintenant rassemblé.  Which has now gathered to bless you

Reçois les chants qu’il offre à ta gloire immortelle, 
     Receive its singing, offered to your immortal glory, 

Et de tes dons qu’il retourne comblé! And may it leave with the gifts you have bestowed upon it!


Caribbean Mass (SATB), by Glenn McClure

  • Remember, it is practically impossible to disconnect movement from singing when practicing this repertoire.  Move as you practice, and practice moving.  Your hips should be loose, your knees should be slightly bent as to move easily, your legs should feel alive, and you should flow with the rhythm from your feet all the way through your body.
  • In the Agnus Dei, practice stomping on the downbeats as the meter changes (particularly downbeats with rests, such as those before “qui tollis peccata…”). This will help you internalize these meter changes easily.
  • Please revisit pitches and rhythms for the Agnus Dei as well as the Kyrie, which we have not rehearsed in a few weeks now.  Us the following listening guides to assist you:
  • Kyrie (sung by the MA All-State Honor Choir, Dr. Janet Galvan, Conductor):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4CcudfDr18
  • Here is Santo…
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYz6kvtgWbU
  • …and Credo:
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb-q_LNyHuY

Amani: Lots of work is already done. Please, review the notes and practice text pronunciation slowly but in rhythm.




Oct. 28th Capella SF Tickets and Call Times

A friendly reminder that your call time on Saturday, October 28 (in full concert uniform) is 4:45pm at St. Andrew’s Church (13601 Saratoga Ave) in Saratoga.  The concert will begin at 7:00pm and you can buy your tickets here.  The concert should be over around 9:00pm .  We also need two more parent chaperones for this performance. Click here to sign up.


Carnegie Hall Tour Registration Reminder

Don’t forget to register for Tour today!  Please visit the member-only portion of the website and sign up now.  The last day to register is October 31st!


Dec. 3d Holidays with Cantabile Tickets Now On Sale

Please visit the Cantabile website to buy your tickets today – they are going quickly!


November 4th Fall Workshop and Family Concert

Please note that call times for the Fall Workshop on Saturday, November 4th have changed and are earlier than previously scheduled.  Your call time is 9:00 AM and you must arrive in your Cantabile T-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes/sneakers.   Please arrive in the back parking lot (off of Byron St) for check in.  A friendly reminder that the concert is scheduled for 1pm, and you will be done by 2pm.  The rehearsal and concert are held at First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto: 625 Hamilton Ave.  

Happy practicing, and have a beautiful weekend!

Elena, Lori, and Jace

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