by Jennifer Rodgers Beach, Artistic and Musical Director of VCS
In our upcoming concert – A Celebration of the Life – on May 21st, we have the opportunity to do one of my favorite things…play with sound and space!
While this can be done with a choir of any size that is confident enough, we have a number of rich components to work with:
- a combined choir of 150+ voices
- an open, resonant space – the sanctuary of the Vienna Presbyterian Church (including a balcony!!)
- several pieces that lend themselves to surround sound.
For the audience, surround sound is a very different experience than a traditional choral arrangement. At first, the visual instinct may be stronger – looking to see where all the sound is coming from and seeing the singers closest to you. But quickly, the eyes tire of so much to look at and the ears beg to have them relax so that we can try to take in the composite sound. It comes from all directions and is as immersive an experience as you can get as a listener.
Sometimes the singers feel a little nervous to be so individually close to the audience. I encourage them to realize 1) that they are just fine and ready to be there, but more 2) that the atmospheric quality of what we’re doing will make their voice even more a part of the sound, rather than stick out.
On May 21st, we will play with sound and space throughout the first half – with sounds that are in turn heraldic, simple, warm, cacophanied, and deep. We will use just the voices at times and add harp, percussion and other instruments at other times. All of this before we settle into a gorgeous, thought-provoking Requiem with orchestra for the second half.
You don’t want to miss it! Bring your eyes and ears – but let the ears have their way when the time comes!