We’re going to present Music From The Big Screen in little over two weeks. Do you have your tickets yet? If not, you better get them fast because we’re going to have – easily – one of our most fun shows ever!
Between K.D. Lang and Jeff Buckley’s definitive versions of Hallelujah, we tend to forget that Leonard Cohen wrote some 80 verses over two years, and finally whittled them down to a mere 15. This means that although Lang and Buckley’s versions can make you sway, no matter how often you’ve heard them, what can really stop you cold is a cover that feature any of the other 12 verses. And so it is with the arrangement of Hallelujah VCS will perform as part of its season opener, Music From The Big Screen.
Therefore, here is a prayer after a run-through at last night’s rehearsal:
Dear performance and singing gods, it is so lovely when we sing this song in unison, so surprisingly moving. And it is so immediate in the bubble of the choir with every voice amplifying the unexpected sanctity of the music, that it moved me to tears. Please, I beg you, do not let me puddle up on show night. For that is bad for business.
In our neverending attempt to make VCS bigger and better, we’ve made lots of little tweaks and improvements to the website. Hopefully you haven’t noticed. That’s right, *haven’t* noticed. Because if we’re doing our jobs well, these changes, like good craftsmanship, should just be a seamless improvement to your daily interaction with us, something you only notice when it’s not working.
To that end, we’re now working on our outreach. We’d love the 2011-12 season to be twice as successful, for which we need to widen our outreach. So help us out …
Who should we be reaching out to? Are there writers, journalists, bloggers, websites, and online groups (facebook or otherwise) you think we should make a point of reaching out to? Are there really awesome folks on twitter you think we should be following? Tell us either in the comment section or drop us a line if you’d like.
And so Vienna Choral Society’s 2010-2011 season is ended. Songs about want and hunger of all sorts that still managed to be uplifting provided the theme of our October concert, and December brought us out of the cold and into a ski lodge, where – golly gee! – there was a piano and a bunch of fabulous people who knew all the holiday standards. The CD of our March concert, Aesop’s Fables, features the delightful (and delighted) squeals of a toddler who was evidently enjoying all the silliness, and the expert story-telling (“story-showing?”) of Sabrina Mandel and Mark Jaster added to the fun.
We ended our season last Saturday with A Celebration of The Life at Vienna Presbyterian Church. The beautiful space was a perfect match for the soaring music, and indeed was an important component of the concert, as we used the balconies and the eaves to compound the harmonies, oboe and harp. But it was Clif Hardin’s Requiem that was the centerpiece of the evening. It was an amazing experience to perform it, and judging from the reaction of the audience, it was an amazing experience to hear it. Thank you, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fairfax, Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, and the orchestra for joining us. We want to sing together again. Soon.
Look for us at Viva Vienna! Next Saturday at 6:15. And please consider singing with us next season: it’s even better on the risers!
Wondering what we’re going to sing this weekend? Here’s a sneak peek!
Alle Psalite Cum Luya
Now I Walk In Beauty (hummed)
The Awakening (UUCR)
Now I Walk In Beauty (sung in unison)
The Heart is The Compass (UUCF)
Now I Walk In Beauty (full piece, in unison)
Make Our Garden Grow (VCS)
Lux Aurumque (Mark conducts, Amelia Gil-Figueroa, Anne Pohnert, and Lydia Lewis, soloists)
You Are the New Day
Ubi Caritas (begun with solo, followed in stages by the rest of the choir)
- Timor Mortis Conturbat Me
- Telos (Jim Whitcomb, solo)
- Dirge Without Music/When I Am Dead, My Dearest (Jen Rubio and Furman Riley, soloists)
- Holy Light (SSAA)
- Dirge Without Music (Sarah Davies, reader)
- Never More
- The First Day’s Night (Sarah Davies, reader)
- To Everything There is a Season (Anne Pohnert and Melinda Bauers, soloists)
- Time & We Bereaved (Sarah Davies, reader)
- Threnody & Limitless (Kristy King, soloist)
- Wherever You Go Now
A full choir, an orchestra, a lovely space. Help us complete the picture with a full house! There are still tickets available online.
There are pieces we rehearse that make me almost comically petulant.
This tempo’s too slow.
These words are too complicated.
That chord is icky.
Clearly, someone needs a nap.
But it’s like that. Some music is just so darn full of charm (however you define it), you can see pretty clearly that singing it is going to be a delight (however you define that). Other pieces are stubborn, bumpy, slightly ill-mannered, protective and don’t give themselves up easily. And I’ve learned that loving them precisely because they’re stubborn, bumpy, slightly ill-mannered, etc. brings about actual appreciation for the depth, the complexity, the subtleties that reveal themselves only after some hard work.
The charming songs are by definition delightful, but the challenging ones – big rewards to be had there.
Amateur choral singing is a lovely exercise in trust. As we rehearse, we have to trust that we’ll find the notes (and that the notes will find us); we have to trust the support of those around us; we have to trust that the simultaneous-but-fragmented attacks on various passages in random pieces of music result in a concert. And it’s usually the concert – with an audience applauding in all the right places and the warm approbation afterward – that solidifies that trust, makes the base sturdier and the next set of rehearsals even more productive. And anticipating the fun of the next concert even . . . funner.
Especially interesting is the trust that builds between the choir and the conductor. My first concert season with VCS was also Jen’s first season as Artistic Director. She’d already firmly established herself as someone who does wonderful work, but nevertheless, she and the choir were still getting to know each other. While we gamely took direction from her, there was still an underlying sense of “Um. . . . OK. . . .” Acceptance goes a long way, but even then, trust must be built.
Flash forward three concerts, to the middle of a rehearsal to prepare for the season finale. We are marching diligently through a piece: the notes are there, the harmonies are there, we are increasingly mindful of the way our “r’s” sound. Jen stops us and begins to speak of . . . water. Of waves that are unceasing, but never sound the same way twice, of the rise and fall that is part of water’s natural rhythm, of fluidity, of sounds that ebb and surge. She asks us to start the piece over, and we sing again. The song is completely different and when we are through, some of us look at each other in astonishment.
Hey guess what, the choir at Westminster Abbey performed Ubi Caritas at the royal wedding earlier today! Why the thrillment? Because VCS will sing it too, in our upcoming concert, “A Celebration Of The Life.”
However, ahem, I’m guessing that what the royal choir had in ruffles and livery, we’ll make up for in way cool mash-up-ness. Because our Ubi Caritas is going to have Yoruba and Kemitic chanting interspersed. Having rehearsed it several times, I can tell you that it will be an ethereal and uplifting experience, and I am looking forward to singing it.
(Yes, the royal choir may well have sung a mash-up too. But I have no idea since I didn’t wake up at 0:darkthirty to watch the proceedings. No, that’s what the Internet is for. And thank goodness. Now I know all about the hats.)
No, that isn’t a typo in the caption. I’m really speechless. How would you caption that picture? Tell us, in the comments section!