Brahms–Movement IV

Watch pronunciation of “nungen.”  The “ng” is as in sing, i.e. no hard pronunciation of the “g.”

ALL– watch the mezzo di voce (editorial markings!)

S–m. 140-142

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Brahms–Movement III

In general–watch dynamic markings

p. 36–S & T be mindful of the timing of m. 150-152

p. 37, m. 164, music and heads up! watch the conductor to guide your time!

p. 38, m. 170, beats 3 & 4 timing!

Sopranos–your “ee” sound can be more open throughout.  Please modify, especially at you leap often to the “G.”



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Brahms’ Requiem, Movement II

Quiet doesn’t mean half-voice which could translate into half-support.  Quiet sections need to be extremely energized to be heard and expressive.  It helps with our pitch as well

Letter A–I think we need to consider how we’re pronouncing  “Fleisch.”  Don’t allow the open vowel “ah” to be too horizontally spread.  We’ve spoken about keeping all vowel placement in alignment vertically and lifted.  Practice, without singing, how you say this word, playing with the placement to get a sense of where you’ll place it when you sing it.  Get to know the capacity of your voice before you apply your ideas to your singing voice.

p. 13–We tend to not make our crescendos (gradually louder) and diminuendos (gradually softer) gradually enough, especially in longer phrasings.  And, we sometimes anticipate the coming of a tempo marking by employing it before it actually arrives. The editor has taken much time and consideration to place these markings in specific locations to create the appropriate expressivity.  Let’s observe and articulate them as written.  If you have any questions regarding any terms or markings please feel free to ask.

M. 65–T were under pitched on this phrase. S, I’d like to hear more confidence in your pitches and rhythms at letter D through m. 103.

P. 20–T at letter I, open your “eh” sound and make your placement more vertical than horizontal.  ALL–be aware and mindful of the “ee” vowels (die, ihrem) so they don’t bite!!

P. 22–Please be mindful of which notes are staccato (short and detached) and which are not.

P. 23–S pitches in m. 262.

P. 25–S entrance pitch at 292. Watch vowel on “wird” m. 297.

p. 26–S watch entrance m. 317

p. 27–All, watch timing m. 333-end.


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Brahms’ Requiem Movement I

Good evening, dear Choral Artists!!  Your hard work is becoming more and more evident as we move through the movements with more confidence, ease, and expressivity.  Let’s continue to challenge ourselves to be better than we imagined.

Here’s my input for Movement I:

Page 1, a cappella section–Pitch! We have to keep this section, in particular, energized, the resonance spinning on top of the pitch with the breath underneath it, lifting it. We cannot approach this section with any weight.

There are many mezzo di voce’s–Messa di voce (Italian, “placing the voice”) is a musical technique that involves a gradual crescendo and diminuendo while sustaining a single pitch.– the first one arriving at letter A. Please take a moment to find them with the understanding of what it means and let us employ this expressive idea as the editor realizes it as an appropriate performance practice for this period.

T & B–letter D p. 6, m. 81 watch the tuning of the B double flat. (another cannot-be-too-high deal)

T–watch that your “ee” vowel, especially p. 8, m. 109 that it is not horizontal and thin. Lift and open your resonators in your face, nasal passages and upper palate. Modify your vowel, if need be.

S–watch your count at m. 151. Your conductor may not cue you to move so you have to know, confidently where you move and when.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding what your needs are for each movement. Your input is valuable to me and to the overall confidence and excellence we exude as we prepare for this challenging and beautiful work.

Thank you for your input and hard work!!

Warmest regards,

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Concert Reflections

Every time, it’s a miracle. Here are all these people, full of heartache or hatred or desire, and we all have our troubles and the year is filled with triviality and consequence, and there are all these ‘people’ of every shape and size, and there’s this life we’re struggling through full of shouting and tears and laughter and fights and break-ups and dashed hopes and unexpected luck—it all disappears, just like that, when the choir begins to sing. Everyday life vanishes into song; you are suddenly overcome with a feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood, of deep solidarity, even love, and it diffuses the ugliness of everyday life into a sprit of perfect communion. Even the singers’ faces are transformed…human beings, surrendering to music…everyone singing together, this marvelous sharing. I’m no longer myself—I am just one part of a sublime whole to which the others also belong—and I always wonder at such moments why this cannot be the rule of everyday life, instead of being an exceptional moment, during a choir [performance]. When the music stops, everyone applauds, their faces all lit up, the choir radiant. It is so beautiful.

In the end, I wonder if the true movement of the world might not be “a voice raised in song.
— Muriel Barbery from her novel Elegance of the Hedgehog


Please take a moment to write about your concert experiences.  These moments of reflection can be building blocks to a better, more improved choral experience for all.

Thank you for you time and insight.




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Beautiful, Successful Concert!!!

Yay!  It truly was a beautiful concert today!  I’m so grateful for all your hard work and dedication to becoming better singers, musicians, and choral artists with big ears and open minds and hearts.  Your work paid off big-time this weekend in the creation of beautiful music!

I expect we will continue where we left off, and with a rewarding, successful concert under our belts, as we forward move to the challenge and excitement of the Requiem!  I’m so up for it!  I hope you’re as excited as I am!

As I mentioned in rehearsal a couple of weeks ago, I’m ordering practice CDs from the same company as we used for the Rutter.  However, because of the cost of the large orchestration for the CDs the cost will be $20/person.  If you would like to purchase a copy please let me know by sending an email to the yahoo membership site ASAP (by the end of this week). I’d like to get them to you before the first of the year.

May you all have warm, joyful, peaceful and love-full holidays!

Much gratitude and love,


P.S. Just a reminder, we start our next semester with a potluck/rehearsal on Tuesday, January 14, 7 p.m.

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Dear Choral Colleagues,

I wanted to put in writing 2 quotes from Semyon’s rehearsal on 11/26 I really found interesting: “The function of rests is to be bridges between sound.” “Legato mean consonants will not disturb the sound.”

Food for thought.


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Reflections on our recent rehearsals…

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.

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Riser help next week!!!

Monday, Dec. 2 — meet at SCC to PU risers (1 riser, 5 extra steps and 5 rails) at 5:45

Take to Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre

Paul R, Barney, Diane R., Ted G., Glenda, Patrick, Anthony

load and transport back to school after rehearsal, until onto stage at SCC

Linda, Glenda, Ted G., Marilynn, Karen, + chamber choir members


Chamber Choir will set-up risers during Tuesday morning rehearsal. Then move them after Wednesday night concert to be ready for Thursday rehearsal.


Saturday, Dec. 7 — at intermission of concert load risers, steps, rails into vans; put away the remaining risers into closet

Sunday, Dec. 8 — meeting at VPAT at 1:30 to set-up risers

Alvin, Jorge, Ted S., Linda, Eric

Tear-down and load risers, steps, rails into vans, take back to SCC to load in closet.

Alvin, Linda, Patrick, Eric, Anthony

Thank you!!

(It would be awesome if members who are unable to help with this acknowledge and thank your fellow members for their contribution to moving, loading, setting up and tearing down risers on which you perform!)


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Messiah, Dec. 1 — job commitments

Here’s where we are right now:

Cookies — Ursula, Glenda, Cathy, Karen, Diane R, Carolyn, Trella

Hot cider & crock pots — 1 or 2 folks

Servers/clean-up — Diane & Paul, Karen, a few more, please

Ticket Sales — Marilynn, 1 person more

Door — 1 or 2 people

Can you help?

The orchestra and soloists will be rehearsing in the hall 1:30-4. I believe the Vallejo Choral Society members will arrive around 4 to start setting up refreshments.  Cookies and cider should arrive before 5 as that is when the doors open.

We also need our ticket sales and door (ticket takers and program givers) should arrive before 5 to be set-up.


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