June 2009

Chorus

June 1, 2009 17:58

My wife sings in the Houston Symphony Chorus. They frequently make a summer tour. For cost and other reasons a number of members may not be able to tour so the chorus recruits summer substitutes to bring the choir to performing strength. For various reasons they give spouses and partners of members a slight preference.

Thus handicapped (or better yet advantaged), I auditioned on Saturday and was accepted for summer substitute membership. They graciously omit the sight reading requirement for summer substitutes. I vocalized demonstrating a meagre 2 octave range. (I actually have a useless half octave at the bottom of my range but I couldn't make the vocal transition readily so we stopped before I could demonstrate it. ) I sang two verses of a hymn and the director said nice to meet you and I left, certain that he had no use for me. I was a bit surprised to open my e-mail that night. But then what can you say about a chorus that will take me as a "member"? (Just joking Dr. H!)

The first rehearsal for Mendelssohn's uncut Elijah was the following evening.  I have never sung in anything but a church choir previously and it was a treat to sing with a large group of singers who had resonance and could (generally) read very well. One can easily go along for the ride when so many are headed down the same road. 

I found that with a fairly secure harmonic framework I can read adequately. I made a fair share of mistakes but nothing outrageous. My rhythm is fine but finding chromatic pitches presented some occasional difficulties. I find myself reading with my fingers pressing down on imaginary strings-- a fourth sounds like 2 on one string and one on the next etc. 

Its interesting that it is Mendelssohn. Last week my teacher/mentor and the cellist in the performance I blogged about recently suggested that we perform Mendelssohn Op 44 No. 2 (e minor) next year. I purchased a recording on iTunes and was blown away by the velocity. This is a piece that will take a lot of mental preparation so that the velocity can be maintained.  Perhaps choral skills can help me study it without the violin in my hands. Hearing what one sees without playing it is a very useful skill. 

We'll see!

ps The chorus performs in Mexico City the first week of July with Orquesta Sinfónica de Mineria directed by Carlos M. Prieto,

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