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September 18, 2012: waves, not drops of water

Artistic Director David Cherwien writes notes to the choir on Thursdays following Tuesday rehearsals. This week, the choir has been preparing for two hymn festivals in Chicago and Madison and three collaborative concerts with the Milwaukee Choral Artists. Some of the repertoire is shared between programs but the choir must spend time outside of rehearsal learning notes, words, breathing, vowels, attacks, phrasing. These notes are meant to remind and reinforce what was discussed in rehearsal. 

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An interesting rehearsal. It wasn't in the plan that we would do all the refinement that we locked into - especially in the Kreek (N.B. Cyrillus Kreek Talveti Laulud - Psalms of David). And certainly there's more to do.

Owning expressive singing is critical, and in the moment, I decided to really latch on to measures 31-47 of Psalm 104. We are getting to the point that we are singing expressively with eyes closed - which forces us to listen very carefully - and feeling the wave of expression as a wave of movement, not drops of water (or individuals) moving in a similar direction. Everyone has to do it and feel it together. This is the kind of overarching rehearsing that is so important because it's not just for those particular measures; this sense of "together" is in almost all of our pieces. Where is the high point? How do we feel it together? How do we deflate away from it together? Where do we stretch and how do we feel that together? It was wonderful in rehearsal - thank you.

Another general topic we need to stay on top of: on-sets. When not done well, we get smudges and un-intentional grace notes. Remember the sequence for an on-set:

  1. Think. 
  2. Shape Vowel. 
  3. Think.
  4. Breathe.
  5. Sing on the breath.

A tiny poof of air flowing can help, as long as we can't really hear what you're doing. Sopranos: end of "Yea Though" (m. 48) can be done by having the first sopranos sing "hom-fort," as long as the second sopranos sing a good "k." This will prevent the glottal smudges that a "k" in a softer upper range can create.  Practice this!!!

We didn't get to the other three pieces I had hoped to: Raminsh Mighty River, Mighty Fire; Paulus I Have Called You By Name and Vytautas Miskinis' Kyrie. Keep these coals warm - and we will get to them next Tuesday.

Enjoy the weekend!