Christus Resurexit!

He is risen indeed!

A light shone in the darkness, and the darkness overcame it not.

A most blessed Easter to my Christian readers, and hopes for a wonderful, rich day and bright future for all my readers.

I love this Russian choral piece, because of the music, and because of how it describes spring. It is “Alleluia! Christ is Risen” by Andre Kopolyoff, arranged by Harvey B. Gaul.

White Cliffs of Dover

“There’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover/ Tomorrow, when the world is free.”

That’s one of those songs that makes me choke up every dang time I hear it. I can’t sing it through without crying. I think it is because of all the hopes and might-have-beens in the lyrics, of just how strongly the singer wants everything to be better, for the bad guys to be gone, and for Johnny to be home again. Continue reading

Choral Stillness

After a concert, or an especially good rehearsal, I find I can’t listen to other music for several hours. Certain compositions and performances set up a resonance inside me, for lack of a better word, echoing and reverberating. A stillness lingers, a song-shaped silence that allows nothing to disturb it. To turn on the radio in the car seems, not a sacrilege, but something almost as unwanted. Continue reading

Inspired by Music?

Somewhere in my TBR stack, I have a short-story anthology inspired by music by Rush. And I know there are books that have been kicked off by certain songs or instrumental compositions. But only three times has music driven me to write something, in both cases scenes or chapters, not entire books (yet.) Continue reading

Happy Child-hoods: Or Why Alma is a little Strange, part ???

Did you have a family member sing you lullabys when you were young? A babysitter perhaps, or an aunt or grandmother? I grew up hearing “All the Pretty Little Horses” and “All My Sorrows (Soon be Over)”. And “Hush Little Baby” and “Scarborough Fair,” among others. Among the others were “Greenwood Sidie-O” and “The Great Silkie,” both of which are also found in the Child Ballad collection, one of the earliest indexed, cross-referenced and annotated collections of folk ballads and narratives. And neither are really what you might call children’s music. Not that that stopped my parents from playing or singing them, but it might help explain why I grew up a little bit Odd. Continue reading

The Orchestra Will Win

No matter how hard the choir may try, the orchestra will win. The trick is to outwit it, not out-scream it. Even if you are doing, oh, Beethoven’s Choral Symphony (9th Symphony) or Carmina Burana.

  1. Orchestras have strength in numbers. A 50 voice adult choir can cover up a single violin or bassoon if we try hard enough. Two trumpets? Probably not. A 60-piece symphony orchestra? Not going to happen. The orchestra will win.
  2. Orchestras do not breathe. Yes, woodwind and brass players have to release notes in order to inhale, but as a collective whole, orchestras do not pause for breath unless it is written into the score for some reason. Choirs have to breathe. If we take too long, the orchestra gets to the next note before we do and they win the race. The race is supposed to end in a tie, not a win. And it is almost always the choir’s fault, because . . .
  3. The orchestra knows how to read the conductor. He’s their conductor, they work with him all the time. The choir is new and has to learn. For example, I sang with a director who brought his hand down on the downbeat and lifted it on the up beat. Then I encountered a symphony conductor who lifted his hand on the downbeat and lowered it on the up beat. Even after being warned, the first run-through was Not Pretty. For reasons known only to instrumentalists, all orchestra conductors move more like each other than they do like choral conductors, and vice versa.
  4. When a choral conductor directs and orchestra, she focuses on the orchestra and trusts her choir. This often Ends Poorly, as the Grail Knight so eloquently put it. The most recent case was last year, when the choir encountered an orchestra score, a time-signature change, and singing off a choral reduction simultaneously. We never came in. The conductor never noticed. Only on the third run-through was our absence, ahem, noted.

With perhaps the exception of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is a Super Choir with a orchestras that support them on occasion, the choir is there to augment the orchestra. All we singers can hope for is to be fast on our feet, watch, come in on time, stop on time, and remember not to try to overpower the instrumentalists. Because the orchestra is going to win.