Thursday, 29 June 2017

Choral Chameleon Institute: Day 6

It's the home stretch now, which means everything's kind of ramped up a gear in terms of intensity and drive. Wednesday was a biiiiiiiig day!

Once again, the morning started with the usual Ear Training class, which, I've actually got to say, I'm enjoying as a habit! Much like I will always start my singing practice (as well as my student's lessons and my choir rehearsals) with a tailored warmup or specific exercises, doing these ear training exercises each morning has really got my brain to focus in on the music each day, and much like I warm up my voice, this is warming up my ears.... and in a way, my soul as well. Following that it was time for the really big part of the day to start; another stab at the student conductor pieces with the full choir, followed by another read-through session with the Choral Chameleon Singers, this time with the other half of the choir that didn't read our pieces on Monday. After my somewhat emotional breakdown/breakthrough on Tuesday, I came into the conducting session feeling, in a word, lighter than I did on Monday. Everything about it felt easier, more relaxed, and I felt like I was able to absorb everything that was being said to me properly. On Monday, because I was so anxious and overwhelmed things just couldn't sink in, but having that chat with Vince on Tuesday allowed all of that information to be absorbed, and leave me open to take in more today. There's still a lot of work to do, that's for sure, as Vince's piece he is having me conduct is not easy - but I feel much more up to challenge now!

The composition read-throughs were once again really wonderful. By this point the composers have had another day to work on them, and so at this session we were getting much more completed pieces, and could really begin to hear the full extent of ideas coming from each composer. From my own perspective, I am thrilled to bits with my piece - everything about it is what I hoped it would be, and the choir just bring it to life in such a magical way. Vince (because I believe he's actually trying to break me at this institute) had me, once again, stand in the middle of circle of singers as they sang my piece, and there are moments that are so visceral that I was close to tears - not going to lie, I fully expect I will actually weep like a child when the full choir sing my piece tomorrow #dealwithit
- The only downside of being in two groups is that I've not heard half the pieces yet, but I've gotten to know this particular half quite well. Bryan Lin's piece 'I Miss You', inspired by text messages from (as he puts it) some 'sad exes' of his is both hugely entertaining, and hugely risky, and I actually love the strangely 'digital' sound he's somehow getting out of this choir. Nicholas Weininger's piece has some really great moments in it (which, as you know, I like to call #chordporn), and I'm really enjoying Jared's piece 'Shells', which is conjuring up images of the seaside back in Guernsey beautifully for me. However, Just when I thought I had everything down, Vince throws another task at me, as Tegan and I are responsible for helping to put the program together for the concert on Friday! Safe to say, I'm not stupid, I've let Tegan take the leadership role on this one so I can concentrate on my conducting pieces, and I will take more of an proof-reading/editing role. Know yourself, and know when to take a step back!

Thinking that the day was over, I was about to head home when the opportunity arose to sit-in on an a cappella group's rehearsal. Blackout are a mixed voice a cappella group, who arrange all their own music within the group, and cite themselves as 'semi-professional'. Now, 'semi-professional' can be a really misleading term - I mean, how can one only be 'half' professional right? But all it means is that the standard of the group is that you would expect of a group who's full time profession is singing in an a cappella group, but that some/most of the group have 'real' lives outside of the group that is their main profession. The choir I sing in back home, The Accidentals is another such choir your could consider semi-professional. I was so pleased I turned up to this session, as we were invited to question and comment on the songs they were performing. One thing that is really evident with this group is that they really understand their own group dynamic, and the arranges know how to utilise each of the voices to it's potential. I have to give credit to Brad Booker, who sung the solo in their first arrangement of the evening, a song by Labyrinth. Brad is one of those who is not a professional musician with his day job, and in fact, he is an untrained singer (*untrained in that, he sings because he loves it, and has had minimal if any singing tuition) - seriously, there is HUGE potential with that voice! I was really pleased to be able to give Brad a few quick pointers in technique, and I hope to work with him further in some capacity, because.... daaaaammmmn.....

Here's a little clip of their fabulous work tonight :)

A really awesome end to a full on day of music making - make sure you check out both Choral Chameleon and Blackout from the links below, and just go and support awesome live music in your area or wherever you can! #musicisart #artiswork

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