First of all, I’d like to speak about our first rehearsal with Semyon last Tuesday night. Although I did not agree with some of the direction he was going I respect and appreciate his perspective. The big challenge for all of you is changing some established habits. I just want you to know I hope and expect that you will follow his direction on all the changes regarding phrasing and articulation. While it is unfortunate we didn’t get his take sooner it is our responsibility as musicians under his direction to follow his vision. If you have any questions or would like to have a discussion about this I’m happy to elaborate further at some future time.
With regards to last night’s rehearsal, let me first acknowledge that the first rehearsals with orchestra/conductor/choir/children’s choir will always be challenging. I know last night was no different. There are a few givens I’d like to point out —
• The orchestra was not as prepared and well-rehearsed as the choirs. That being said, it is quite common, and expected, the orchestral musicians will take notes of their challenges and work them out before the next rehearsal or, at the very least, before the concert on Saturday.
• When the orchestra is in front of the choir the choir will hear and experience the “accompaniment” of the music late as there is a lag in time between the articulated music and when we actually hear it. (We’re so used to hearing the piano accompaniment, Debbie, directly supporting us with a clear presence in time.) This means you must trust your conductor to lead you and the orchestra together on a journey of music-making we will never fully hear or experience together in it’s real time. Consequently, you must watch, trust and follow the conductor’s cues and tempos and not be tempted to go by your ears (your ears cannot judge the lag). Yes, it’s true that many of your entrances, and most of your cut-offs, were not cued last night. (I believe he was more concerned with helping the orchestra last night.) But, I trust this will change. And, even if it doesn’t you need to be ready, knowing your entrances cues and your cut-offs with great confidence. I know you can do this!
• Musical notes — (Forgive me for blind-referencing, I don’t have my score in front of me.) 1. in the Gloria — et in terra pax–allow the music to blossom with beauty; no scooping on hominibus (sopranos); watch/check your cut-off for “pax” is on beat 3; as you hold your “te” in “Laudamus te” keep it energetic, you’ve been dynamically decrescendo-ing; also, watch your last entrance “glorificamus te” that you’re not late; do not slow down the subsequent “gratias” entrances; “propter magnam gloriam tuam”–please, no breath before “tuam”, I watched and heard more than half the choir breathe there!. 2. Sanctus and Benedictus — this is slower than we’ve been singing it. Consequently, there are many of you who are rushing. Please be mindful of the conductors time, not the time in your heads :-); fuller sound in “pleni sunt coeli”. 3. Dona nobis pacem — final accentuation of nobis at end–ATB cut off 1 beat earlier (on beat 3 of penultimate measure) than sopranos (on beat 1 of last measure). Many of you waited and cut off on 1 with the sopranos. Please check your scores on this. 4. Finale — “pacem” cut-off on beat 4 of sopranos solo; “agnus dei” entrance was not together–watch the conductor; sopranos were rushing this section.
OK. All that being said, there were so many beautiful moments in this piece!! Remember to give all dynamic markings a boost or you will not be hear on any pp or p dynamics. Allow yourselves to sing with vocal presence and support and confidence. You know and love this work. Sing it like you do!
Thank you for all your hard work!! I don’t know about you but I definitely needed tonight’s break. We’ll be fresher on Thursday night!
Warmest regards and love,
P.S. Just a reminder to those of you who might forget–Please take a moment to thank Debbie. She’s an awesome accompanist and deserves all our praise and acknowledgement. Also, don’t forget to thank those who are working hard to get your risers transported, set-up and taken-down. And, in case you don’t know, there are 3 facets to our children’s choir–Debbie’s school kids, my chamber choir girls and 4 other girls who were trained by me and Barbara McFadden on Monday afternoons. Barbara has also donated her services and costumes to clothe some of our men in tuxes. Please take a moment to thank her for all her help!
See you Thursday in 1239 at 6:30. Rehearsal starts at 7 and we need a warm-up and line-up before that. I will be locking 1239 so you can keep your stuff in there.