So, Ok, not true, wasn't on the show, however, I am going play Cliff Clavin and give you the skinny on each piece we are singing. So here goes:
Hodie: First thing? Lose the "H", second use singlish on Alleluya and don't yodel that "ya" like a yokel. Third thing? Be light on your voice, be energetic, euphoric even, we are like the heralds announcing to the court that the great Bagaduce has arrived and is about to shock and awe us with it's musical splendour.
Regina: So we should all have the lyrics memorized on this one, we've got one phrase at the beginning and then it's all aleluja's all the time from then on in. So most important: see HODIE above on singing Al le lu ya. If you are unsure how it should sound, listen to recording and imprint it. Other than that, the secret to singing this piece? Be light, fast, bouyant, effervescent, be like Mozart himself, sing as though you are supressing a gigantic giggle. Have fun.
Pilgrim's Hymn: The antithesis of Regina, interestingly, the music is published by Subito Music, and the transition from Regina to Pilgrim is a pretty good example of Subito, from a gigantic giggle to a heartfelt and heartfull prayer. Plus it's acappela, nothing between us and the audience. Most important thing? All eyes on deck--watch Bronwyn. She wants to move this, she wants to pull it here, move it forward faster there, and you won't really find it in the music so watch her as though you are an infant watching your mother's face for cues, you want your mother's love right? And remember on page 5 how she wants us to end "spirit" and come in on "Even" at the same level, MP or she may even be cueing us to less than MP at that point (why we need to watch) so just remember the second verse starts just as quietly as the first verse ended.
O Magnum: Listen Louder Than You Sing. This piece is all about the dissonance and about how the lead line moves in and about amongst all the parts. Listen for when another part is moving and give them the spotlight, even if it just for 3 or 4 notes. For this piece to be as powerful as it can potentially be, a regular atom bomb of acapella singing if executed with excellence, two things must happen. First we need to stay on pitch, particularly the basses. Second, our tone and our vocal lines need to be consistent from beginning to end, any uncovered tones or singlish failures will stick out of our blend like a chunk of carrot left in your veggie smoothie. (Ask Bronwyn about the Waring Blender and the Dale Warland Singers).
Christmas Star: (From the movie Home Alone 2 which was even worse than Home Alone I) Imagine you are a child, maybe twelve or so, imagine it is Christmas, imagine your family has disappeared and you are left to guard the home front all alone for the holidays. Imagine you get lost, imagine you sing this song to the stars as you try to find your way back to your home. OK, I have no idea what actually happens in the second movie, but this works for summoning the mood of this song. Sing it as though you are both a twelve year old, but also an adult who knows how that for all grand ideas about the holidays, they can often be lonely and somewhat sad and the reality of "home" sometimes seems elusive at best. In short, sing this song with a pure, if full heart, and of course use that old Hollywood singlish, like the actors used to use back when talkies first began (they always sounded sort of vaguely British or prep-school toney, think Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, but I digress).
Angel Breathing: I wrote about this in yesterday's blog, so just a brief mention here. The music drives like a galloping stallion, make sure you are in control of the stallion and not the other way around. Also, be like the horse whisperer (or the dog whisperer if you prefer), angry shouting at an animal produces diminishing returns, angry shouting at an audience probably is not something we want to play around with.
Tundra: Your mouth is all rubbery, your jaw slack, your lips loose, practically flapping in the endless wind that blows across the bleak expanse of an upland nordic plateau where patches of gritty snow cling to bare craggy rocks. Ennunciation not an issue here folks, rather your job is to make sure the audience defintely knows when your voice parts note moved. Use the "surge" technique on either side of the step up or down to highlight your movement. Keep your tone covered at all times, otherwise frostbite is possible if you leave your tone sticking out of our blend.
Ave Maris: I've written a good deal on this already. But I would like to ask, what are the most important musical notation in this score? I would argu they are the rests. If you look throughout the piece, but particularly in the first and last thirds of the piece, MacDowell uses rests like crazy and to incredible effect. Whether it is when the Sopranos sing the first note of a phrase and all other sections have a rest and then follow (this dance happens a lot and it is so beautiful, I joyously listen to the sopranos first gesture, and then, like a puppet on their string, I follow a beat later. I would urge you to listen to the music with the score and watch for the rests. A lot of the power of this piece will be derived from clean cutoffs and observing the rest that follows. If we have folks la di dahing along and straying over the cutoff and bleeding into the rest, it could kill the magic. And this piece is super magical. Voice and stings echoing, dancing, pulling. I hope Bronwyn can get the playahs to really pull some incredible power out of their big moments and i hope we can match those moments when our time comes. Anyway, respect the rest!
Nearer MGTT: The more of this you have in your head the better of you will be. There actually only a few lyric lines and lots of repeats so it ain't out of the realm of possibility. Here ennunciation is important, be sharp and precise. And don't forget the little eighth note hop from 7/8 measure to 7/8 measure "DE RI Ge nos Do Mi Ne ad, that will keep us moving forward and give the piece the drive it needs.
Baba Yetu: First, summon your inner "big man and big woman". Ok, next use your mouth and lips with gusto (I urge you to watch one of the you tubes out there in fact here is a link to a Peter Hollens version that my son sent me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17svtURunUk ) Check out how the mouths move, we really want to dig into these words, give them their full power. You gotta lose your "nicesortoftimidwhitemainepersonna" and really dig deep to summon the full power of this piece. Also when we are the backup to the solo, watch Bronwyn's cues for volume, let her have full control of the volume knob so she can turn us down or crank us up. Above all, on this piece in particular, let your heart swell up with the joy of the music, let the audience feel your joy, make them want to stand up and dance in the aisles.....
Well, time to head back to the place where everyone knows my name (the office).
(due to a strike by the Union of Proofreaders, this post has not been proofread, any mistakes are only partially intentional, and any relation to individuals, living or dead, is highly probable. So sue me!)