Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Timberliner Outfits

The Rose City Timberliners are looking at adding another outfit to their performing costumes.

Currently, the chorus wears a white long sleeve cotton shirt, khaki slacks and black belt and shoes from Company Casuals catalog for 28$. The logo (not shown here) is red with green lettering. This same shirt is available in short sleeve and many other colors.

While the group is easy-going, they want to look uniform and put-together as performers. Unavoidably though, such groups look like a bowling team or a restaurant staff.

For summer, though, the idea is another more comfortable shirt, short sleeves, square cut bottom wearable outside the pants. Each singer wearing a "Hawaiian" style shirt of any print they chose was discussed, but not generally liked. Casuals sells "camp shirts" in white and celery and other colors. Our logo is already on file with them, so there is no new set-up fee for embroidering this onto the shirts.

One suggested we try a "deep rose" color shirt. Color is not available in camp style at Casuals, but another supplier offers it for a new logo fee. Casuals does offer the deep red in a knit sport shirt that might fit the bill for $18.00. This style also has white, ivory and celery and other colors.

The membership will look at these options and decide what, if any, to add to the uniform requirements.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This from Stephen Zopfi, Conductor and Director of Portland Symphonic Choir, September 23, 2009, while preparing to sing Brahm's "Ein Deutches Requiem"

Let us take as a given that pronunciation for singing is different than pronunciation for speech. (Hence, specialized diction classes for singing)

Let us also take as given that what works for solo singing doesn't always work for choral situations (Hence, we adjust choral pronunciation to find what works for a particular choir in a particular musical situation)

Add to that pronunciation can be modified depending on where a particular note sits in the voice, what sequence of vowels and consonants come before and after, where it occurs in the musical line, and even what musical effect is needed.

Then mix in the fact that no two native speakers of most languages agree on the pronunciation of anything.

Then stir.

Well, you can see that it is a difficult situation. IPA symbols can be tremendously helpful but even with IPA, there is a limit to what they can offer. Like musical notation, IPA can point you in the right direction but no notational system can ever capture the nuance and endless gradations of speech.

Therefore, we do the best we can. We establish a standard and train the best we can. We do our best to listen and to adjust. We practice. For those of you who have had singers diction, have sung the work many times before, or who are native speakers - hang in there. We have a new choir with new adjustments, new standards, new interpretation, new things to listen for, to discover.

In choral singing, performing "as one" is more important than performing "right". Ideally, we can achieve both, but art is in the details.

About Choral Masterworks

This from Stephen Zopfi, Conductor and Director of Portland Symphonic Choir, September 23, 2009, while preparing to sing Brahm's "Ein Deutches Requiem"

Dear Folks,

There is something different about singing a choral masterwork than singing any other repertoire. They feed us on spiritually while reminding us what it is to be human. They are a three course meal of vegetables, protein, carbohydrates, dairy, and so on rather than the fast food of much of what passes for choral music. They are tremendously challenging vocally, musically, physically, emotionally, artistically, and intellectually. It is tremendously satisfying and nourishing on a very human level to sing a masterwork. Not to say I don't like my carbohydrates. I am a fool for chocolate covered mini-donuts and certain arrangements of popular songs. However, it is the Masterworks that feed and sustain us on a very deep level.

Another characteristic of Masterworks is that they have depth. The more you look at one, the more you discover. Was Brahms writing unrequited love music for Clara Schumann, or was it spiritual solace for her on the death of her husband, Robert? I have changed my mind repeatedly about markings. Lately, I have been thinking that the end of the 2nd mvt. has an obvious dramatic spot at m. 336 that benefits greatly from a rallentando. But an immediate return to tempo at m. 333 seems a bit mechanical. All of these ideas can be debated endlessly but that is what makes this masterworks so fascinating:

They have something more to reveal to us each time we perform them.

That might even be the test of masterworks in any genre... they have more to reveal.

Masterpiece (or chef d'Ĺ“uvre): a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career; a work of outstanding creativity, skill and workmanship.