Great SSATBB Rehearsal Today

Today’s rehearsal with the SSATBB ensemble went GREAT today.  I think one of the reason that made it great was a new practice we started a few weeks ago.  When I was in Chicago for ACDA I talked with a member of musica intima, a wonderful twelve-voice Canadian ensemble, about their practice for dividing responsibility of rehearsal and repertoire.  She talked about how each member of the ensemble basically is in charge of a piece and is responsible for rehearsing and polishing it.  I don’t remember her name, but she seemed like a really awesome person.

Anyway, We have six pieces we’re working on, so we had each person take responsibility for a piece and planned rehearsals accordingly.  It’s worked great!  It seems now that everyone is in charge and sharing responsibility.  Rehearsals are much more efficient and smooth now than ever.  It’s working great.  We’re planning on a performance in April around the second reading day with another local choir.  More info to come later.

Another Great SSATBB Rehearsal

Yesterday, we had a great rehearsal.  We started to smooth out some ladies parts in “i will wade out” and then picked up “Hosanna to the Son of David” by Thomas Weelkes.  It’s short but it’s hard. This was the most thrilling part because we learned the whole thing and ran through it twice from beginning to end.  Wow!  So thrilling to be able to do this.  Now, granted, our Alto had this piece memorized already and I’ve learned quite a bit already, but to have all six of us really getting this thing down was just awesome.

We’ve still got quite a bit to learn and polish before we start performing, but it’s coming along soooooooooooo well!  Yay!  Now, here’s a video of “Hosanna to the Son of David” performed masterfully by the BYU Singers:

SSATBB Rehearsal and “In Paradisum”

Today we had our second rehearsal for the SSATBB ensemble I mentioned earlier (still no name, but we’ve gotten quite a few humorous suggestions).  We had a great time and worked on parts of “Haec Dies,” by Byrd, “i will wade out” by Whitacre, “Evening Wind,” by Redford and “Abendlied,” by Rheinberger.  It’s coming together really wonderfully.  Our biggest challenge right now is sight reading.  It’s so much easier to sight read when you’re in the middle of a section all working just as hard as you are.  It’s so much harder when you’re the only one on the part.  We’re still working on that.

In other news, my “In Paradisum,” is going to be premiered next month in our combined concert with guest conductor Philip Copeland.  It was going to be premiered at our Winter Choirfest (the one that was supposed to be at the Provo Tabernacle before it burned down).  Professor Hall decided that it would be better for the premiere of the piece to be done in a better space and with more rehearsal.  I can understand that, but I’m impatient and I want to hear my piece NOW!  What can you do though?

P.S.  BYU Singers will be giving a FREE mini-concert in Museum of Art on campus tomorrow (Friday) at 6 PM.  You should come, I’m conducting a piece!

My New Ensemble

Over the last few years or so I’ve been involved with a number of singing groups.  In addition to BYU Singers and BYU Concert Choir, I’ve also had the opportunity to found the Wasatch Chamber Singers and conduct Sforzando (a non-audition service choir).  I’ve had a great time with all of these groups and learned quite a bit from each of them.

A few years ago, while studying a great deal of Renaissance and Baroque music I noticed a certain voicing that seemed to be a little more common place than today.  I first noticed it when listening to excerpts from Historia di Jepthe by Carissimi.  In that work, the choir is divided six ways: SSATBB.  I marveled at the color this voicing has.  I noticed it again in the soloist parts for “Saul, Was Verfolgst Du Mich” by Schütz.  In BYU Singers we learned “Un soir de neige,” by Poulenc that did the exact same thing (Poulenc actually marks it “SSATBB soli or choir”), and “Evening Wind” by J.A.C. Redford.  I’ve found a few more pieces since then that are written in this style that I think offer a distinct timbre to choral music.

About a year or so ago, I got the idea of creating an ensemble based around singing this sort of music: an ensemble of only six people in this voicing.  I realize that the King’s Singers is a group with six singers, but they’re Ct,Ct,T,Bar,Bar,B.  I wanted to offer something similar but in a different vein.  After all this time waiting and mulling about I finally got together with five other singers this last Saturday and tried it out.  It worked amazingly well.

We’ve got some great literature to sing and a long way to go still, but we finally have weekly rehearsals and a shared vision of what we can be.  It’s very exciting.  I’ll post more soon.

P.S.  We still need a name.  Any ideas?