Posts Tagged 'singing'

Trying to be very quiet

There’s taping going on in the next room. The chorus has gone virtual, which means we’ve all been doing our best. I taped earlier, and I think my tape may get the response, “Oh, dear. She tried.” So many blooper reels. So many times the pretty little horses had coats muddled, or words didn’t come out correctly (spoonerisms…. so many!).

The cats really don’t care about keeping quiet, or what other sounds might ruin a taping. One cat has been quacking and growling outside of the makeshift studio door, climbing up on a hall table to experiment with the door handle. I managed to be quiet, and not hum my part along. I’ve sent away my part, and hopefully it was good enough that the mixer can do magic and make it work with the others.

The funniest blooper reel (besides the one where I warble as sirens respond to a fire call and someone starts to wood chip a stump), was when I realized I had sung the wrong word, said “fudging hell,” and turned off the tape. Apparently working in childcare and in a museum did some good.


Last night, we watched footage online from concerts of choruses that were going to be at our summer’s big singing event.

I should be packing for the event – getting my outfit from the cleaners and checking my boarding details, except it’s all been canceled. Mercifully, the timing of the pandemic means all the singers aren’t converging in one place for our convention. I love singing. I love what singing does: making me feel 3-dimensional and almost a part of the elements. As an alto, I get the best of singing worlds: sometimes a rumble that supports the sopranos, and sometimes a trill that sneaks above the top line.

It’s all canceled, and postponed to a distant date. Hopefully my nonprofit chorus can bear the stress of NOT singing for the safety of everyone.

For now, seeing all those familiar faces is bittersweet. And I think about my own chorus and wonder, to quote an old song “When will I see you again?” Link to The Three Degrees. This singing group’s look and Philly sound was iconic when I was a kid.

So, I wonder, and wish. Online meetings, phone conversations and letters only go so far.

Away and Back Again

July 4th, then a trip to Denver for a huge singing conference… And it’s August already. Not sure how all that time got lost — but subbing for other people’s vacations at work, dealing with my own workload = a lot less time for introspection, writing for myself, or just painting and sketching.

The trip to Denver was lovely, and part of the time was spent with friends up in the mountains. We missed a lot of the heatwave on the East coast of the US, although the past 2 weeks now that we’re back have been a bit of a struggle with all the rain, thunderstorms, and 100 degrees one day outside.

Pictures should show up eventually on the sidebar. I might write about what it was like to sing in a music hall with my chorus, in a space that seats 3,000 (couldn’t see the audience for the blinding lights, and so no jitters). But mostly, I feel incredibly rewarded that I got to go to GALA, represent my region and chorus, explore a new place, and hear some fabulous groups. You guys: you have to see the Seattle Gay Men’s Chorus sometime; if Mano a Mano ever comes back to the States from Cuba, see if you can score some tickets… they have an album you can download from iTunes on that link; the Gay Men’s Chorus of LA was fab; and the youth LGBT choruses — still thrilled by all their talent and optimism. I wouldn’t have had the guts to sing in front of such a large group. This video [YouTube Link] from Dreams of Hope out in Pittsburgh was shown, and should be seen outside of our region and the US. It really talks about the issues of kids who don’t fit into heteronormative society.

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.

One concert down, one to go

Our encore performance in Baltimore is on Tuesday, at 7. Last night’s concert felt magical for the singers. There’s just nothing like being in the middle of an orchestra or a choir, and feeling like you’re in a tidal pool of music. When everyone breathes at the same time, hits the notes in the right beat — it’s amazing. And, since we sing in a mixed chorus, with basses, sopranos, and tenors next to me, I really got to enjoy the other parts of the music instead of a wall of alto notes. This morning I slept in after the excitement of Saturday’s concert. This afternoon I’ve been baking for the reception, and checking which things need to go to the cleaner’s tomorrow to be ready for Tuesday.

The Lauridsen piece, Sure on this Shining Night, is beautiful, and fits so well into the winter season. It’s interesting to hear different choruses perform it, partly because our chorus is so much smaller. Different direction also changes the nuances, of course. So do different nights — every performance is unique. Tickets are still available, so if you’re in Baltimore, please consider buying a ticket and attending.

Time to spiff up the tuxedo

It’s another concert night, so it’s time to spiff up the tuxedo, make sure I know where the bow tie is, and bake cookies for the reception. Our concert will include: music by Morten Lauridsen, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Caroling, Caroling.* I may choose the Joy of Cooking peanut butter cookie recipe and substitute Nutella. I suppose I should put a warning note on it that it contains hazelnuts, in case someone has a nut allergy. Link to a preview of the concert (practice session) is here.

If you’re out of town, and can’t come to the concert, hopefully the links provided will help make your season a little bit brighter. It’s going to be a lovely concert. Hopefully only rain will be a problem –> no snow this year (fingers crossed).

So, anyone else have the Christmas concert jitters? Or are all of your concerts later in December, so you still have time to prep?

* Music links are to other choruses. The Morten Lauridsen piece is done by Conspirare in Texas. Their version is truly inspirational, and I’ve been listening to it a lot. I might have to get their CD. ‘Twas the Night recording was done by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians. Caroling, Caroling was sung by Utah Chamber Artists.

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.

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.