Posts Tagged 'music'

Musical Interludes


“Piano Bench”, by Cory Holt. Benches by the Bay, Sturgeon Bay

I’m in between concert performances with the chorus, although there will be runouts to sing some of the same pieces. There were 2 lovely formal concerts, but I think we left every emotion and bit of energy onstage.

We managed to not weep along with the audience during Ryan Murphy’s “A Lullaby” (link to video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing it is here). I managed not to tear up while singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (thinking about a family member who loved Kate Smith). We didn’t clash while singing the a capella “My Spirit Sang All Day” by Gerald Finzi (in practice it felt like we sometimes verbally collided or tripped over triplets).

Now, I need brain bleach to get the songs out of my head. Between listening to Big Band music, Ola Gjeilo’s beautiful work, and a Fountains of Wayne album (link is to an NPR tiny desk concert), I’m slowly getting out of performance mode and back to normal. I’ll take the tuxes to the cleaners and relax into a sort of post-performance melancholy. While we’re talking about music to kick away the blues, check out Jenny and the Mexicats in this NPR tiny desk concert.

Anyone else in a community chorus? Any ideas how to deal with the let-down blah feeling afterwards?


Tuxedos readied

tuxedoshirts It’s the last formal concert of the spring season tonight. We’re excited to be singing this repertoire of American standards, and hope that anyone who swings by to listen enjoys them too. Shenandoah sounds amazing from the risers (hopefully the same for anyone in the audience). It’s always interesting what pieces I’ve managed to memorize, and which ones demand a quick glance at the music binder during the concert, just to make sure I’m on track with the rest of the altos. (Last night, after the concert, someone broke the exciting news about the triple crown winner. We were up singing during the races, with no aspirations beyond not dying under the heat of the lights.)

The power of more voices

Our chorus has had a sudden addition of altos, sopranos, tenors, and at least one extra bass. And so, even though we’re struggling with learning the Spring concert music… there is more sound.

But there are also more interpretations of what a dotted eighth rest is when a piece is marked in 6/8 time. Eventually it will all lock into place, but for now there’s a bit of untamed sounds hooting in places that should be silent as we learn the new stuff (including a version of Shenandoah that is lovely, but with very challenging discordant bits [Link to Mormon Tabernacle Choir of one arrangement, and to another by University of Richmond from 1971]). I’ve put both links up to the different versions of the song, because they’re both lovely.

Thoughts after singing a premiere work in concert

Our LGBTS community chorus did the premiere of a new piece of music by Nathan Hall (I am in Love with the World), and now I’m sorting out my feelings about it. It was like 40 of my friends all chose to go out on a vocal tightrope, and trust that we were singing the music the way the composer wanted, based on the thoughts of our director, who had only heard the notes played on piano/electric keyboard. It’s based on Maurice Sendak’s words (not his creations), and many of us are fans of his work — The Night Kitchen, Where the Wild Things Are. So we wanted to do justice to his life with an amazing 15 minutes of song. Continue reading ‘Thoughts after singing a premiere work in concert’

Gearing up for 2 concerts


  • Is your music in order? (yes)
  • Are your clothes neatly pressed? (working on it)
  • Do you have a cold? (yes — I’ll pack cough drops)

I’m currently panicking over music and the echo in the church, worrying that I’ll revert to second soprano in several places, and hoping the ice storms don’t come. But at least I haven’t been shanghaied to play the piano for a Children’s Chorus (a fatally bad Christmas day experience, when the normal choir mistress suddeblueangelnly took ill).

Anyone else singing for Christmas or Holiday concerts? Ours is very early this year, so we have lots of Chanukah music for a nice change (at least I hope the audience likes it). We’re also trying a song that will be very beautiful if we can hear one another to sing a cappella — The Real Group’s World for Christmas. If you’re over near Church and Graveyard, drop me a line. And if you too are struggling with concert prep, feel free to let me know. We can commiserate.

A slice of city life with the start of summer

Last Saturday as evening was falling, I heard music in the distance. I looked over at the church out back, and saw two people walking slowly towards the Church road. They were two preteen boys, and the one with red hair was singing and strumming a ukelele. They kept walking, stumbling every so often because they were focusing so hard on singing Jason Mraz’s song, “I’m yours” [link here]. And I thought, as I listened to the soft voices and the jumpy ukelele strumming, that this could only happen at the corner of Church and Graveyard. The fading light made the moment magically timeless.

School is out, the kids are out strumming musical instruments… and summer has begun on a gentle note. (We ignore the gritty things that have happened in the neighborhood and the horrors of the evening news for now.)

Bonus video for a Jason Mraz song that I’ve heard on the radio a lot lately, “I Won’t Give Up“, with absolutely stunning photography.

Quite a bit of rain, hail, and high winds

… and we ended up having a dress rehearsal by candlelight, because the church lost power. It is somewhat magical to be in a darkened room, with faint light coming from the windows, watching the shadowy form of the director (who is squinting at a page of sheet music faintly lit by a flashlight). One really does listen for the piano cues.

One of the songs we’re singing is “In the Morning, Joy“. Another is a rendition of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem, “Afternoon on a Hill”. Lovely stuff, and it’s amazing how much of our program we have memorized.

Songs that benefit from orchestral treatments

Much of Tears for Fears sounds truly wonderful in full-blown orchestral performance. Check out Mad World . Lush, memorable, and really uses the chorus to great effect.

Here’s the same song in 1982.

The second I would love for zipping around in my car, getting to work in the morning. Somehow, early 80s synthesizer music is really wonderful for commuting. Well, that and Bonnie Tyler or Pat Benetar’s Love is a Battlefield (I’ll get you started… “we are young…”).

Music videos and a fascination with the past

Whether it’s a fascination with French filmography: Smashing Pumpkins

Or green-fairy induced monomania/Victorian mourning with an unpleasant singer who was possibly told to overact: Nine Inch Nails

People in wigs and crushed velvet: Annie Lenox (Hugh Laurie and John Malkovich)

Incomprehensible Cold War camp when you go west with the Pet Shop Boys

A lovely video that might be from Martina McBride or not… called “For These Times” (starring NYC). I mostly posted this because I want to visit it again.

Enjoy the timewarp.*

*Courtesy of my desire not to look at the news and obsess more about earthquakes and not being able to feel like I’m making a difference. BTW: If you’re interested in helping, check credible nonprofits out there, okay? There’s Doctor’s Without Borders, Red Cross (although I feel weird about texting something on my phone to donate), and other places that have a track record of helping others.

New song artists and creativity in video

Yes, people say that Video is dead. And that might be true if you just went by what MTV spoonfeeds cable viewers. However, in visits outside of the US, during bouts of insomnia, I’ve watched a lot of video shows. Yes it’s a waste of time, but sometimes you see something charming that introduces you to an artist with a good voice.

  • Marit Larsen, from Norway, has a video for If a Song Could Get Me You that is charming (and hey — it’s kind of Project Spectrum appropriate too)
  • The video for the song Chasing Pavements is creepy but one of the best examples of shadow dancing I’ve seen in a long time. The singer, Adele, has an amazing voice.
  • And I still need to remember to go to the record store and pick up some Duffy.

Hoping to finish one of my latest projects (or at least one sock) so I can photograph something in the sun sometime. But for now, links to other people’s creativity will have to suffice.