Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mastering “Modern Masters”

Last night CONCORA, the all-professional choir in which I sing, had its first of five rehearsals for our upcoming “Modern Masters” program. You can review the repertoire list, and read some of my program notes and other material for this concert, here: (Details on the concert date, venue, and tickets are at the bottom of this post.)

At last night’s three-hour rehearsal, we worked through about a third of the repertoire. We have our second rehearsal this afternoon, during which I expect we’ll get through the rest of the program. (That’s really remarkable. Not many choral ensembles can work at that level!) We’ll have two more regular rehearsals, then a dress rehearsal in the concert venue (South Church, New Britain), before our concert on February 10.

CONCORA’s roster of vocal artists numbers around 55, but we don’t all sing in every concert. For each program, Maestro Coffey assigns the number of singers – usually 24-32 or thereabouts – that will best support the repertoire and venue. With a large roster of talented singers of all voice types, he can create a palette of sound that’s just right for every program. A few lucky CONCORA singers perform in all the concerts every year, but most of us sing in just one, two, or three.

Because the ensemble that’s assembled for each concert is unique, the first rehearsal for each concert project can be a challenge, as we work together to get to know the voices around us and find a unified sound. Last night, that blend and common purpose seemed to emerge more slowly than usual, but I can sense that it is coming. The repertoire for this program – Britten, Rorem, and other “modern masters” – requires command of a wide range of vocal style, from child-like clear tones to full-throated rich sounds. (I’m at the child-like end of that continuum.) During our second run through Britten’s Hymn to Saint Cecilia, the ensemble began to approach the cool-water clarity of tone that seems most appropriate for that particular text and for Britten’s ethereal setting.
Read my program note for Britten’s Hymn to Saint Cecilia here:
and read about a favorite performance memory here:
I love singing with CONCORA, for every reason you can think of: superb artistic leadership, the highest artistic and musical standards, consistently excellent repertoire, a long tradition of distinguished and dignified concert-making, and fine musicians with whom to bring the music alive.

I’m looking forward with much pleasure to this afternoon’s rehearsal. 
Read more about the delights of rehearsing with CONCORA:
CONCORA presents “Modern Masters”
Monday, February 11, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
South Church, 90 Main St., New Britain, 06051
CONCORA celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten and the 90th birthday of Ned Rorem with a concert featuring works of these two musical masters of choral composition. Features Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia and selections from Rorem’s Seven Motets for the Church Year. Masterful works from other composers such as Eric Whitacre and John Rutter add to the celebration.
General admission $25, students $10.
(860) 293-0567

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