Last year the Central Otago Singers visited Invercargill and we performed a concert with them which we thoroughly enjoyed. We agreed that this year, A Capella Singers would return the favour and join COS for a concert in Alexandra. And if two choirs are good wouldn’t three be great? Come on down from Dunedin, Star Singers! Oh and let’s add an orchestra for good measure – hello Central Otago Orchestra!
So off I went, car loaded with music, musical instrument and paraphernalia and two fellow choir members (1 alto, 1 soprano) bound for Alexandra. And what a cracker weekend it was, starting with the fabulous sunny warm weather. All 3 choirs and the orchestra piled into the Terrace Hall for a practice on the Saturday afternoon. As anyone who sings in a choir will know, getting one choir on and off stage in a decorous manner can be somewhat vexatious. Try it with three choirs and Brown’s Cows ensues before everyone gets the instructions sorted.
The combined choirs practiced our three numbers for the concert, each conducted by a different conductor. Firstly Handel’s Zadok the Priest followed by The Lord Bless You and Keep You (David Childs) and finally Vaughan-Williams’ Serenade to Music. The last, a real melding of orchestra and choir, was not without its challenges. I was grateful for David’s advice to begin as if we were joining a train moving along a track, both of us going in the same direction.….or something along those lines, I know it had something to do with transport.
Many of us gathered at the Orchard Café that evening for a delicious meal and stimulating musical converation. A great way to get to know the choristers from the other choirs. Some of us (yes alright, me) were keeping an eye on the clock to ensure we were back at the motel in time for the start of the All Black v Wallabies game. Some of us (yes alright, me) were not enthralled at the result and found it a struggle not to offer some useful advice to the referee at a loud volume, in order to preserve our voices for the concert.
Sunday morning was given over to individual choir rehearsals and a general wander around in the glorious sunshine. After changing into our finery we had a quick run-through of the massed items and then the audience started arriving. And arriving and arriving to the extent that more seating had to be added to the hall. We were all thrilled at the turnout, and the ACS members were delighted to catch up with former member Gaynor Bonnar, now resident in Clyde.
The ACS individual items generally went well and the audience certainly enjoyed Loehrer’s ‘I Hold Your Hand in Mine’. It was fun watching their faces as they came to the realisation that yes, the hand of the song title that we were holding and kissing, had parted company with it’s former owner!
I really enjoyed singing with the combined choirs and having different conductors with their individual styles. Hopefully we will get to do it again another time.
Here's some of us basking in the sunshine before the concert
I came across this little gem on musical styles which amused me and thought I would share it.
Five men on the same stage all playing different tunes.
Played exclusively by people who woke up this morning.
Dozen different types of percussion all going at once.
People singing when they should be talking.
People talking when they should be singing.
Discover the other 45 minutes they left out of the TV ad.
Endless songs about shipwrecks in the 19th century.
20 men who take it in turns to stand up plus a drummer.
Approximately half of our choir members are off to Alexandra this coming weekend for our combined concert with choirs from Dunedin and Central Otago. We're looking forward to it and hope there will be a good audience. If you're in the area, the concert is at 2pm in the Terrace Primary School Hall.
Here's a great opportunity for singers to be a part of the Rugby World Cup - audition for one of the choirs to sing the anthems at a ground near you. In the case of singers in the Southland region, that means the opportunity to learn the anthems of Scotland, Argentina and Romania. You don't speak Romanian? No problem, you can download the pronunciation and practice files here, as well as apply on line to audition.
Although rehearsals haven't started yet, we already have some of the music for the Central Otago concert. One of the items is 'Maria' by former choir member Juliet Woller, now resident in Australia, which is a setting of the Ave Maria text.
Preparing for a concert in Spring is always harder than at other times of the year due to inclement weather (it's hard to leave a warm house in the evening when it's cold and rainy outside) and because there are naturally more coughs, colds and other nasties around. However perserverance pays off and the extra effort is always worthwhile.
Our Easter concert was performed yesterday to a small but appreciative audience.
The Concertino women started with the Crux Fidelis followed by Tartini's Stabat Mater. The Stabat Mater had a false which just shows how easily something can wrong if you don't concentrate! Although the work is in 3-part harmony, the first note has the altos and second sopranos sharing an F with the first sopranos on an A. However we were given an F-A-C arpeggio to pitch to and we first sopranos naturally gravitated to the top note - because first sops always have the top note right? Once that was sorted we sailed on through, and made a pretty good job of it, although with the amount of words we traversed, it was hard to not to bury our heads in our music.
The full choir then sang three Easter works, including a piece by an unknown composer 'Do Not Be Afraid' which included a cantor part sung by Malcolm Williams and was very enjoyable to sing. Cellist Wayne Perniskie then played two lovely Romantic pieces.
Following a brief interval the choir with Dr Raymond White at the organ, performed Stainer's Crucifixion. We were very glad to have the organ as earlier in the week there had a been a bit of a panic when smoke was seen issuing from it! However all was well on the day. Clive Thompson and Michael Buick were the tenor and bass soloists respectively and both did a beautiful job. This choir member had to blink back tears after Clive sang with such haunting simplicity the last line 'And he he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost'.
The choir now has a well-earned break before rehearsals start for our Central Otago concert.
For the concert on 17 April 2011 the Concertino group is using the female voices only. The two works to be performed are 'Crux Fidelis' by Kathryn Rose and 'Stabat Mater' by Tartini. Two very different works on the same theme.
Both of these works were sourced from the Choral Public Domain Library, a wonderful resource for choral music.
Rehearsals have started for our Easter concert which features the beautiful work Crucifixion by John Stainer. Here is a video of the reknowned King's College Choir performing 'God So Loved The World'.
Gramphone magazine recently asked an international jury to select the Top 10 choirs in the world. The list dominated by British choirs.
On the Gramphone website there is an article by American composer Eric Whiteacre on why he thinks this is. The article also contains the full list of the Top 10.
The first Kyrie burst forth from the choir and I knew this was going to be a very good rendition of the Coronation Mass. Judging from the audience response at the end, they agreed. The soloists blended beautifully and the choir sang with energy.
Rebecca Ryan again showed why the south is privileged to have her here with an effortless rendition of Mozart's Alleluia (I only heard her breathe once, and I was only 2 steps away!) and together with the choir sang Adam's O Holy Night, soaring above us at 'O night divine'.
The Concertino sang Salve Regina, and we could have done with another practice or two to be honest.
Afterwards, we sadly farwelled from the choir ranks long-serving member Isobel Walsh. Isobel has been a rock for the soprano section and with her perfect pitch, has kept us all in line!
And now we look forward to 2011. Stay tuned for details of concerts to come!
Only one week until our concert on the 28th. The choir has been rehearsing well and will be joined on Monday night by Rebecca Ryan for a run through with all soloists present. The Concertino are enjoying David Childs' 'Salve Regina', which is well-suited to the smaller group.
See you on the 28th, 7pm, First Church!!
I'm a soprano :)