Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tech Week : Hartford Chorale Prepares RVW's Hodie

This morning, it hit me that The Hartford Chorale, in which D and I sing, has actually entered “tech week” ― the intense period of days prior to a concert series. Our Monday night rehearsal was with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in their rehearsal space (instead of our usual piano rehearsal in our space), and on Wednesday we have our final, or “dress” rehearsal, at The Bushnell. Our performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. (I rehearse with a different group on Tuesday, so I’ll be singing every night this week.)

So why did this “hit me” this morning?
It’s not that I wasn’t aware of our schedule, or that I haven’t learned the music properly. I think that I’ve been in so much of a fog this fall that I have remained curiously detached, artistically, from much of the music with which I’ve been involved. I just haven’t connected with it, in the way that increases my anticipation for the usual intense pleasures of tech week rehearsals and performances.

Normally, I’d be deep into research, reading, and explorations, especially for a major work like Vaughan Williams’ Hodie, the anchor piece on this concert. (The other selections on the program are Glinka’s ecstatic overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla and Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 1 from The Nutcracker; the entire program is conducted by Richard Coffey, Music Director of The Hartford Chorale.)

It occurs to me that I am doing a lot less singing this fall than usual. I feel less like a chorister than usual. That may explain my sense of detachment.


Last night during the Chorale’s rehearsal with the orchestra, I finally heard the entire piece from start to finish, in context, with both choirs (Chorale and the Connecticut Children’s Chorus), the vocal soloists, and the fine orchestra. I always enjoy Vaughan Williams’ orchestration, especially his use of the winds. I love my seat right next to the percussion section; it’s a visceral experience (in the best way) to experience the percussion with my entire body.

Hearing the entire work with the orchestra woke me up a little to the beauties of this music. It is good music, well-crafted and satisfying to sing, though it feels more instrumental than vocal to me in its conception.

Mr. Coffey conducted with his usual clarity and with purposeful gestures, making this most difficult score seem clear and easy. I missed two entrances (came in early twice), but this was due to the vestigial migraine that has plagued me for two weeks; it makes it difficult for me to see clearly and to concentrate my attention. Vocally and musically, the Hodie is a piece of cake. Maybe that was an issue, also – I haven't really been challenged by this music. But I love the poetry – beautiful British poetry. Perhaps I’ll post a bit of it here in during the week.

What an odd post.

Anyway, it’s going to be a fine concert. Come hear it.


You can read all my posts about this music here:

More of my essays on the life of a chorister, and more about choral rehearsals and choral music, may be found here: http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/Chorister


Hartford Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series
with Richard Coffey, guest conductor
Stephanie Gilbert, soprano; Eric Barry, tenor; Eric Downs, bass-baritone
Hartford Symphony Orchestra
Hartford Chorale - Richard Coffey, music director
Connecticut Children’s Chorus - Stuart Younse, artistic director
Thursday, December 1, 2011 • 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 2, 2011 • 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 3, 2011 • 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 4, 2011 • 3:00 p.m.
Belding Theater, The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Hartford

Mikhail Glinka: Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 1 from The Nutcracker, Op. 71
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Hodie

Ticket Information
Tickets range in price from $35.50-$70.50.
Student tickets are $10
On Saturday, December 3, $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under.
To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit http://www.hartfordsymphony.org/

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