silverflight8: watercolour wash with white paper stars (stars in the sky)
macro shot of my music, titled 'FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY - Lobgesang - Hymn of Praise, op. 52, Symphony Cantata' and orchestration written in German - Soli SST, Chorale SSAATB, 2 flutes 2 oboes etc

Had a concert Saturday, performing Mendelssohn's Lobgesang. We were paired with another choir (larger than us), and an excellent symphony orchestra. Altogether I would guess there were at least two hundred people on stage - rather cozy and quite warm on stage, but the sound was absolutely tremendous and tremendously exciting to sing in. And Mendelssohn is a very rewarding sort of composer to sing in large choruses with, especially in a piece like this: a "hymn of praise", written to commemorate the western invention of printing - I think on one of the major anniversaries of it?

We were conducted by the conductor of the symphony orchestra (the choirs share a conductor, so there were just two conductors running around). The conductor was sort of funny and acerbic with it, the kind that really tries to get a lot out of you. I'm not sure what he's like when it's all being put together, but he kept exhorting us to get out of the music and watch the conductor. (One of the most common refrains of conductors I've known).

The parts got a bit jogged around by our choral conductor. He asked the alto 2s to help the tenors when they had to sing by themselves to open a movement, and in some parts asked the entire soprano section to sing alto to lend more power to the middle section - this, at least, is very rare. The last movement in rehearsal we basically didn't have a soprano line; those were being worked on by the other choir, who would cover for us there.

I like this rendition on youtube. There are more if you search "Mendelssohn Lobgesang" though I only have timestamps for this particular one.

Lots and lots of talk about the piece, including time-stamps for specific parts )
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SO to start with The Creation (Die Schöpfung): it is currently my favourite.

I really like Haydn in the first place. I played some of his sonatas (I also really like sonatas, though it took me awhile to warm up to them--I liked the drama of Romantic composers when I was younger) and I'd studied parts of The Creation as part of music history. And of course there are some really famous pieces by him it's hard to miss--the Surprise symphony!

Hadyn makes me smile because he's totally playing tricks on the audience and the performers, laughing a little bit behind the scenes. In many ways, the music is quite symmetrical and classical. There are a lot of choral entries which feature each voice part singing the same melody, just one measure offset; he repeats measures in the classical structure; his sonatas follow the usual introduction-development-recapitulation; his melodies and harmonies are very tonal. But he loves springing little surprises onto you. Just as you think you have learned the part and that it will repeat for a second phrase, it suddenly isn't the same; it's been subtly tweaked just enough to produce a different sound. That part you thought would repeat four times is actually two repeats and three variations, joke's on you, sight-reader! (If you're not sure which one is the Surprise symphony, it's the one that starts out very quiet and then has the orchestra blast a shock chord to wake you up. It's so great. A+ would recommend.)

about The Creation and word painting )

My favourite parts are of course the choral ones, because I'm most familiar with them. I think if I tried to write about all 34 movements (of which we omitted a few), this would be way too long, and in fact it's already very long. I have included the music in youtube videos--there are three vids, and I didn't want to embed each all over the place so I've just provided start times for the pieces.

First Movement )

Second Movement )

We broke for intermission at this point, mostly for the benefit of the conductor and the orchestra; the choir got to sit (thank you) and really only did commentary. We weren't entirely holding up the show, this time!

Third Movement )

tl;dr: I was really excited to sing the Creation when I found out in September, and now that I have, I love the whole piece like burning. LOVE.
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I've talked about choir a couple times already, but I haven't really talked about the music yet, which is because it usually takes me about 2,000 words every time. Here goes!

This season was the French composers concert: Duruflé, Fauré, Poulenc, and Gounod.

Includes youtube clips under the cut )

1 Around 1:44 in the third clip.
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I forgot to talk about choir!

We have two (2) pieces this season!

They're two full masses, that's why there's only two: one by Haydn, one by Beethoven. (At this point, why not just go for a mass by Mozart, sez I, to round out the collection? But I don't make these choices and I suppose that'd make our one-hour concert too long.)

At any rate, the alto section has become the Fake Soprano section. Palestrina was quite low last term - we sang G below middle C frequently - but here the altos are frequently singing around the C above middle C, up to E, and so on. Personally, this is my "sounds escape with little (volume) control" range, which is uncomfortable and also why I'm an alto in the first place. The sopranos, meanwhile, are practically stuck on the high F and G these days. (We were singing and the music made a dip to B-flat below middle C and I thought: "oh man that's low grk" since we'd been stuck in the higher registers for so long - normally B-flat is dead easy.) Also, whomever arranged this score did not do a very good job, because occasionally I'll turn the page and there is this massive jump that was totally unexpected next.

But it's great! There's so much variety contained in the masses, and I am deeply amused that there are parts in 6/8 - part of the Benedictus, even, I think. (The often-repetitive nature - by design - of Classical pieces means that the same motifs show up in multiple movements, so I can never...quite keep track.) I mean, you don't expect swingy 6/8 in masses! But there it is, in full "hosanna in excelsis deo".


We are doing both masses in Germanic Latin. The Germanic bit is because of our conductor, and I don't know why. In the second week of this, he said: "I've had attempted mutinies from choirs before [over the pronounciation]" which is kind of amusing, but I get why. So far, we are just replacing things like "coeli" with /tsø.li/, /ts/ with everything I thought was supposed to be /tʃ/ (dona nobis pacem became /pɑ.tsem/ which was confusing because everyone tried to sing it the conventional, Italian-style way), and also vowel replacements. Like "kyrie" with /ø/ instead of /i/ which makes me grumpy because it's harder to sing (farther back in the mouth plus lip rounding!) and also kyrie is not Latin anyway. And "qui" became /kv/ instead of /kw/ or just /k/. Also, all the esses are being turned into z (/s/ -> /z/) which makes us all sound like we're putting on awful German accents.

*appeals to [ profile] schwa* Does German voice /s/ word intially? Or intervocalically, at least? Also, do you actually use /kv/? That's always pinged me as "terribad accent", but IDEK anymore. Technically there is a German bass, but he is tall and physics-y instead of linguistic-y and I can't ask.

Mostly I'm pleased, though. I had to learn about masses-set-to-music in music history when I was studying piano, and had to memorize things like the order of movements (Kyrie-Gloria-Credo-Sanctus-Benedictus-Agnus Dei) and it's fun to actually get to sing through them all. Plus one is a missa brevis, so we are often singing different texts over top of each other, and it's fun to puzzle out the Latin. When the conductor is working with another section I try to figure out what the words mean and whether I've seen any of the daughter words that have budded off from them.
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I've listened to it about three times over the last week, and my opinion keeps changing. At first it was "we sound terrible!" but I generally get more fond of music. The more I hear it the more I like it (this is subject to a certain limit, I mean, and now I want to draw a graph.)

First, something is definitely up with "Zadok the Priest"; I'm not sure why there is so much alto? Perhaps it's where the microphone thingy was placed. It's strange, because the other pieces don't seem to have the same problem. We went a bit slow, I thought, and weren't as crisp on the 'rejoices' as we could have been. The first part was still epic as in memory.

Definitely had some confusion there on "Sicut cervus". Everyone's moving appropriately, and adding expression! Just not together.

I am very, very pleased at one piece though. "Exsultate Deo" was the one where I was afraid that I could hear my own voice (HORRORS) but the sopranos scale up (literally) to 'blowing out speakers high' so fast that the alto 1s are barely audible. YES. EXCELLENT.

I stand by my assertion that we have an amazing pianist, because AMAZING. I want to be her.
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Today was the choir concert. A mix of old and new, as the title suggested, and nothing particularly heavy for the summer season.

tl;dr: no one fainted or flubbed badly. Success! (I think we're getting a CD, but that's not going to be out for a long time. I've included links to youtube versions that are close) )
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I am here, I am still alive, and I am still typing.

There has been more calligraphy done in the last week then I have done for many a month. And I feel at last that my writing is moving back to a more formal style; I think it is the influence of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susannah Clarke), which I am reading at the moment. The way I talk in real life just feels too stark - too bare, too open, too bold, if that makes sense - for it to transfer aright into writing.

I keep thinking I ought to make an entry, except all that is interesting to say is personal, and if you ever ask one of my friends, I think they will say that I am a really private person. When things happen, I vanish into a book and avoid people. I would rather shut down and say nothing - observe - than anything else then, and it isn't uncomfortable, to stop talking. I tend to vanish off the internets as far as me posting goes, not so much commenting/responding to others, when I am overwhelmed with life, when there's something massive going on in real life, or when all of the exciting things are too laden with detail for me to be publishable online. (I am one of those kids who were told to never put information online; it came as a huge shock that people did this on Facebook! oh my goodness.)

But! The choir has released the CD, and I am listening to it - we sound better than I expected we would! And far better than initial impressions. I still think that we are not quite good enough to do studio recordings, though; though they sound quite nice, I can hear all the flaws (I feel like I'm hearing my voice, very very loudly, but I'm sure that's just paranoia - I think?) and we sound better in the live concerts, where the recording equipment is less able to detect every nuance. Alas, Listen to the Lambs's soprano part is no better than I expected :( At least the altos sound good, and that's what's important ;)

The other things is that release 80 is out and there is, ah, fallout.
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Random link dump, because I was browsing through a community :P

Frank in a whole bunch of incarnations. Also includes the one with SA's logo, but it looks more like he's been shot or something o.O

I had no idea this existed. :D :D

Other things that may or may not be of interest to you:
1. a water main burst on one of the main roads in the city the other day. It looked like the river burst its banks. I was impressed.

2. It's melting it's melting! Spring is coming! (When the sun comes out the world feels beautifully optimistic, it's golden and warm and oh glory! It's partly cloudy today. The clouds have this way of quashing that optimism.)

3. The ground is blushing green.

4. I would like to have a voice like this. (although they do have the choir back them up, which helps enormously with power and all).
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Bee)
Oddly formatted requests sound like poetry
especially the garbled ones
composed in a cranky email editor
fed through an internet translator and back
the meaning struggling through the words--

It's been snowing gloriously for the last few days. I think there was freezing-rain on Thursday, so everything - tree branches, grass blades poking through the snow, the fence - acquired the most exquisite spikes of ice. Then it snowed, and is snowing, and the street looks picturesque. The wind has made one side of the trees white and green, and blown the snow off the other side :P

*political noises* Non-confidence vote re national budget is forcing an election. Maybe this time we can get a majority government; it's been three minority governments in a row and it would be nice to get things done quicker. *crosses fingers*

I've been listening to the soundtrack from Tangled and I am in love with Donna Murphy's voice. Warning: it is by an emotionally manipulative mother trying to control Rapunzel - but so dramatic, powerful and perfect for the scene.

By sheer force of repetition (a lot of requests are filed from Russian-speakers), I recognize "Thank you" by sight - Спасибо. вопросы - problem. Attempts to learn the alphabet have been vaguely in the not-success-and-not-failure range - I never realized quite how much easier it was to learn something like French, for example; the (almost) shared alphabet is an enormous help.

And note to anyone on LiveJournal using attempting to use Internet Explorer 9 and the Rich Text Editor - it's currently quite broken (anything requiring the grey pop-up window - poll creator, adding links, etc), it's been reported to developers, and in the meantime try the HTML editor.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Bee)
I went to a sing-along version of Handel's Messiah yesterday, and it was spectacular.

Some of the program was cut out, but the program ran for two-and-a-half hours, with something like a fifteen minute break. Singers - mostly university students, who had auditioned for the roles - sang the recitatives and arias and duets. For the first time I really understood what my theory teacher had said about ornamentation: the arias were heavily, heavily ornamented (and so long that they had to sneak in breaths) and incredibly intricate - very Baroque. The first bass made it sound almost like chanting, but in his defense, I suppose it was quite low. I liked the other singers, though; they handled the long phrases and huge space (it was a church) well. The first violinist was excellent, too; when it was just the solo violin coming in on a dead silence, it worked and didn't seem clunky.

The lady behind me was kind enough to lend me (and my friend) a copy of the score. [To the unknown lady: <3] I followed most of the score that way, and it was lucky I had it, too, since most of the pieces I knew by heart were sung by soloists anyway. There was a predictably better soprano section in the choruses than alto, even though there were two high school choirs who'd come out to sing. Highest soprano pitch: B natural just below high C. The people behind me went into the whistle register for that one, I think.

The spectacular part of it, though, were the choruses, especially the Hallelujah Chorus. Almost everyone knew it, and in a church that big - three balconies, seating on the ground floor, at least three or four hundred people - with such a high ceiling, the sound soared and of course, the Hallelujah Chorus is the peak of the whole oratorio. It was stunning. It was like being in a sea of sound, bigger than a normal choir would be and simply glorious.
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I have finally, finally, finally found aida cloth. That is sold just as itself. Without the premade packages with more embroidery floss than I could ever use. *bounces* It's absurd how happy this makes me. This means--oh my God, I've been looking up patterns all day. Some of them look terribly old-fashioned, but there's other beautiful ones...

In other news, choir has started again (yay!) and we're doing some of Palestrina's music. Forget all the other pieces--I can't wait. It's like music history and choir are colliding! (They should, but they don't often enough.)
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Irrelevant thought of the day: I wish whoever'd come up with the Happy Birthday song had chosen a less acrobatic song. I'm talking about the octave leap on the third Happy Birthday (and not that there's not build-up; first there's a perfect fourth jump, and then a perfect fifth jump, and then oh my God there's a whole octave!) Most people manage to miss the note entirely. Not to mention the minor sixth that appears later.


Jul. 19th, 2010 08:24 pm
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
1. The other day, one of our friends moved to the States, and they gave us their two budgies, since they couldn't bring them and we had a budgie, too. This is Ray. (Sadly, my skills with a camera do not produce photos like this).
     He used to be very scared of everyone (still is), but after a party in which we left the cage door open and let little boys play with him, he's become very aggressive, and he bites.
     Enter two new birds, Mango and Pearl, who like to bicker, too. It's turned into a three-bird circus show, with fights erupting once in awhile over who gets what perch (Ray is very jealous) and because I like to anthropomorphize, it looks almost as though they're giving each other attitude (and then sometimes falling asleep right after). Never mind Mango's perhaps twice as big as Ray. They squabble all the time, and the house sounds like the outdoors with all the chirping.

2. I love it when random numbers are perfect squares. Did you know the squares of 100 and 75 added together is a perfect square? (It's part of the 3-4-5 triangle [multiply each by 25], but as I didn't realize at first).

3. The weather is out of whack here. This is the fourth thunderstorm in July, I think--rain is usually in June (flooding, more like, for the people by the river). Last week the thunderstorm gifted us with golf ball sized hail.

4. I wish that the concept of significant figures wasn't invented. Okay, not really. But it's a pain.

5. The nice thing about pop songs is that they're frequently in a very small range. Singing songs in West Side Story (I mean, "Tonight") is an exercise in trying both extremes of your range. (Unless, of course, you've got an incredible four-octave range, which means I am very jealous.) Also, I think I am mangling the pronunciation in the Erlkönig.

6. My resolve to write a post each day is slowly weakening, but I assure you, the last two days I didn't say anything was partly because I wanted anyone visiting my journal to see the entry about the little sparkly trout who deteriorated into a stinky mess. (This silence was also because I was lazy.)

7. I finished re-reading (it's been a few years now) Lucrezia Borgia, by John Faunce. Even a cursory Wikipedia search has turned up information that runs completely counter to what Faunce claims, but I really enjoyed this book. I'm sure it's due in part to nostalgia, but I genuinely liked Lucrezia (the elder; there are two Lucrezia Borgias). After reading this, I realize I understand far more references, but I still with I'd had a classical education. In fact, while the post-Medieval Western-Europe themes and politics are very interesting, so are the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, which this book refers to. I like the way Faunce shows the Pope's court, which, at the time, was extremely corrupt. What stuck with me the first time I read this (in a pool of summer sunshine at camp) was the gold. Cesare Borgia (or as he prefers, Cæsar) loved gold, and these quick allusions make me think of gold dust whenever I think of this book.
Review is being written.
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I really only know one of his songs, and it's always so fun to sing: We are the World. The original's singers--you can see by their singing, by their faces, that the intensity isn't faked.


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