Saturday, June 13, 2009


Hello my dear readers!

For those of your who regularly check this blog for posts... I am sorry! I am going through bit of a choral drought after finishing my recording sessions with Belle Canto. As my conductor and the recording engineer brace themselves for the immense task that lies ahead in choosing and perfecting our recorded tracks... I am off to explore new countries! Well, most of them will be new :)

I will be leaving on Monday for Paris and from here I go to Helsinki, Madrid, Lisbon, Geneva and London. However, if I had the choice to be a chorister anywhere in the world... I would definitely choose Helsinki. So many great folk songs and full-bodied singing. Also, my favorite A Capella group, Rajaton, is from Helsinki so that doesn't hurt either :)

I am not sure if I will be able to catch any choir concerts while I am away. I was looking for something to attend but I'm hoping that I can stumble across something unique and musical on my trip and I will report back here.

Until next time, take care and enjoy the warm weather!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Confirmed Thoughts

One of the most exciting things about blogging is the type of people it connects me to and last week was no exception. After reading my thoughts about the HK Bach Choir, Anne, a prior HK Bach Choir Chorister, graciously sent me an e-mail detailing her experiences with the choir, which I found extremely enlightening.

In a previous post, I stated how there are always amazing singers waiting to be discovered and trained; however, the HK Bach Choir conductor, Jerome Hoberman, was not harnessing the raw potential of his group. Anne stated that there are many good singers within the group but Hoberman's focus was on commissioning local Chinese composers, working with Western music, rather than focusing his energy on developing the vocal skills of his singers. It was nice to hear my thoughts were confirmed since it is easy for me to state what I think is the problem. However, for an actual HK Bach chorister to confirm my thoughts gives me confidence that what I was hearing was due to conductor negligence. This is Hoberman's major downfall since it is such a waste that the HK Bach Choir is not living up to its full potential! This just shows how crucial it is to have a conductor with a focused vision for the choir and the singers within it. While I do appreciate the fact that Hoberman was looking to support local Chinese composers, it should not come at the expense of his singers. I understand that a conductor cannot do everything... but when you look around the concert auditorium... and notice that nobody is attending concerts due to poor singing and unexciting repertoire... it is clearly time for a change!

Rather than continuing to ignore the dwindling interest in choral music it is time to revolutionize the way choral music is presented! Add movement (a.k.a Choralography)! Resurrect popular Classical songs! Just find new and exciting ways to make choral music more accessible! Singing unfamiliar Berlioz songs is no way to foster Choral love within audience members!

As I have said before, there is no excuse for singing poorly, but it certainly does not help when singers are not provided with the tools and vision to succeed.

I feel for you HK Bach choristers.... oh, I do.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Recording Torture

These past few recording sessions with Belle Canto have left me feeling extremely murderous. It is mostly due to the fact that I want to strangle all bus drivers, motorcyclists, and drivers with loud mufflers that drive by McDougall United Church from 7-10 pm. Of course, I have nothing against the bus drivers, since I do support eco-friendly transport forms... but I wish buses didn't have to hiss and beep every time they stopped... our recording sessions would have gone so much smoother if they could just quietly purr past the church.

It felt like it was hard to get a clean take of anything since there was always some sort of noise pollution that littered our tracks. It is just so frustrating having no control over environmental noise! It is hard enough to have our pieces in pristine recording condition but now we have to deal with all this ambient sound which makes everything that much harder.

Other than the frustrating traffic sounds in the background, I was reminded how stressful recording sessions are. Mind you, these recording sessions are nowhere near as intense as the ones for CBC (since all those tracks must be sung cleanly in one take) since we can afford to edit and piece together a clean final track this time. However, from taking electromusic, where I had to record my own material, I do not envy the recording engineers job. There are so many tracks to listen to and you have to be listening at all times to check for balance and to find out precisely which spot in the music we would have to re-record because of a loud muffler. I'm just glad that I am not doing it. Cleaning up spots where people cough and seamlessly merging two different sections with different vocal textures is nothing short of an art.

Furthermore, as much as I love the fact that you can preserve the sound of a group of people with recording... singing in a recording session is nothing like singing in front of a live audience. I find that musical nuances and sensitivity is lost during a recording session since you are always thinking so hard about technicality that you loose that ability to sing freely. Or maybe that is something I have just been running into since I instantly become tense when our recording track begins. Suddenly, I have to think of when I am going to turn my page so it doesn't crackle and I wonder if a bus will drive by during an exposed entry.

At any rate, I am glad there is only one more recording session left and soon Belle Canto will have a new c.d. and I will finally be on it!