Choral Observations Essay, Research Paper
Choral Observations 1999
Pro-Musica Choir, October 11
Conductor : peter
Ensemble size: Approximately 20 members
Division of parts : The music structure sounded like it was in four or five parts. There were 7 sopranos, 6 altos, 1 tenor and 4 basses singing on this occasion.
Layout : To the left of the conductor were the sopranos, infront of the conductor was the tenor and behind the tenor were the basses, that just leaves the altos who were to the right. (see fig 1)
Sopranos(7), Tenor(1) Altos(6)
Repertoire : All Creatures Now J. Bennet,
Of All The Birds That I Do Know J. Bartlet,
A Pretty Duck There Was J. Bartlet
Sweet Honey-Sucking Bees J. Wilbye
3 Australian Bush Songs I. Grandage
Rehersal Plan : Firstly Peter instructed the choir to do some stretches to get their whole body warmed up. The next step was warming up the diaphragm with the choir doing a percussive style hiss. To prepare the choir for intonation the choir was asked to hum the ‘na’ consonant on a given pitch and to change the pitch firstly with ascending by a semi-tone and returning to the starting pitch. This exercise was continued in the same manner with other vowel sounds like ‘oo’ and ‘ee’ and also by descending and returning to the original pitch. Finally a simple melody was sung where the choir sung a 5th, 8ve and 9th above or below the melody using the words Anna Maria. The melody was repeated with the tonic ascending stepwise. To encourage the choir to sing the right pitch Peter would raise his arms.
Now that the choir was warmed up Peter started them though the repertoire. All Creatures Now to reflect the light character of this madrigal, Peters used small, bouncing gestures. To keep the choir running through the peice without stopping he would instruct the choir to solve musical problems. To solve intonation problems he would isolate parts and stop the choir on the note or notes that were unclear to the choir. Peter in some places, where the register was high , would use a circular conducting style to enforce singing from the diaphragm. This method solved problems with pitch in these high register sections. To keep the flow going in the peices Peter would ocassionally sing along to clarify the intonations of some sections. When the choir improved and corrected problems Peter congratulated them. This technique of keeping the choir active continued thoughout the rehersal.
It was good to hear descriptions of the pieces e.g. Viver lieto voglio – By explaining what the lyrics actually mean that life must be lived with happiness.
Quell augellinche canta – was about living life through the eyes of a bird. This piece had a nice two part harmonies.
Nice and short sweet harmonies. Though I’d prefer a more jazz orientated vocal harmonies with sometimes the bass singers were a little flat.
Jazz vocal Choir
The choir was well put together. “A child is born” had some fantastic harmonies. “All blues solos were executed well especially the scat solos performed by Justin and Katie singing an excerpt from saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. It was well conducted with a great range in dynamics. “Revelation” was a good gospel song . (no concert program)
Choral Concert – Thursday, November 4th.
First Year Chorus
Director – Graeme
I was listening to the conductor outside before the performance to take risks.
The Tenor and Basses were a little flat at times though this was quickly corrected. The conductor used a very high conducting pattern at his eye level.
He employed a circular pattern in “Faure” to create a free flowing sound. To give some support to the choir he used his left hand around the stomach level. From these techniques he managed to get a nice tone from the choir.
Employed a graceful flowing conducting style. The choir could have used some more volume in which the conductor could have queued. This was done later by Emily by using both hands to encourage her choir for more sound. Maybe the choir was a little shy.
Early Music Vocal Ensemble
Sounds well rehearsed. I would have liked to have seen some rehearsal techniques Peter Roennfeldt employs in rehearsal though I received no reply from my letter. Peter ended some phrases with his right hand while stile comping on the harpsichord with his left hand.
Ave Maria – The zenith of the performances in my eyes. A wonderfully calibrated sound of dynamics and tonal quality. At times I could imagine subtle, wavering curtains of sound that brushed against the ears of the listeners.
Choral group structure:
Female Personnel Female Personnel
Exultate Deo – used a different structure for arranging the choir.
Female Personnel ——-Male Personnel