Friday, October 16, 2009

Cantilon's 10th Annual Dessert Auction

Hello dear readers,

Just here to report that Cantilon's 9th Annual Dessert Auction went very smoothly and that it was a great start to our 10th Anniversary year. In a way I can't believe I have been doing this fundraiser for 9 years! I still remember the first one that was done at a small community club hall out in St. Albert. We have come so far since then. Now our Dessert Auction is held in the lovely Winspear Centre lobby and the whole evening is so smooth and organized.

I am happy to report that Belle Canto's performance of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy went quite well. I have to admit, I was royally screwing up some of the choreography during the practice cram session we were having before we got on stage, but I managed to pull off a smooth performance. Sure, overall we probably weren't that clean but we had fun with it and I think the audience thoroughly enjoyed it. Our Verdi piece also went extremely well I thought and it was so much easier to sing in a supportive acoustic. All the sustained musical lines felt so easy with the glassy and diffusive lobby atmosphere distributing our sound.

I wasn't able to watch the other choirs that evening but I did manage to catch Chamber Choir's performance. I sang with Chamber Choir when it first formed and it was a group that really shaped my skills as a chorister. The musical demands are high and a lot of commitment is required to be in the group since there are two rehearsals a week on top of a busy performance schedule with recording and touring worked into the mix as well. It is always interesting for me to see the blossoming singers. I recognize people from a few years back who were just starting out in the front row with a shy timidness about them and this year they are all standing in the backrow and singing with confidence and purpose. They sang Bach's Wir Eilen Mit Schwachen with wonderful vitality and lovely balance. Frobisher Bay was next and no matter how many times I hear this song or sing this song... I never get tired of it. During their performance I just closed my eyes and enjoyed their fused acoustic waveforms. Their final piece R. Murray Schafer's Raking Song was also an interesting pick since the last time I heard this song was when the St. Mary's Children's Choir performed it when we were on a choir exchange. I remember watching them in awe since it was the first time I saw extensive actions used for a choral piece! This was quite revolutionary for me to watch 7 years ago! However, we soon discovered their secret since they actually have choreography rehearsals for their songs and once they learn the actions, that song is within their permanent performance inventory. Thus, it was lovely to hear it again tonight and to see a bit of movement; however, it was nowhere near as extensive as the first time I saw it. I remember the St. Mary Children's Choir using a heavy raking action as they swung their hands over their shoulders, trying to carry the weight of their imaginary rake as they "beat the ground," and I also remember their fluttering jazz-like hands to simulating the rain coming down from the sky. I couldn't help but videotape a bit of the performance from the song tonight and I have posted it below so enjoy!

Overall, watching tonight's performances was like taking a trip down memory lane for me. There are so many songs that just stick with you as a chorister and it was fun to hear some of them again tonight and revisit all the memories associated with them.

Until next time, take care!

Cantilon's 10th Anniversary Birthday Cake

The Cantilon Chamber Choir

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy!

For the past many years the Cantilon Dessert Auction has been an annual event where our choirs have been able to showcase their talents early into the year as well as providing an opportunity for fundraising. This year is also extra special because it is the 10th Anniversary of Cantilon Choirs. The Dessert Auction is a time to sing lovely and pleasing choral repertoire; however, in my past experiences with my choir, Belle Canto, we have a very different perception of what is lovely and pleasing to sing and what is lovely and pleasing for the audience to hear.

This year we tried to satisfy both our musical taste as well as the musical palette of the audience. We will be singing Verdi's Laudi alla vergine Maria, an epic opera-like chorus piece, as well as Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, made famous by the Andrew Sisters. The Verdi kills me vocally but I do have to admit that it felt a lot better at our last rehearsal. The long sustained lines require vocal stamina I lack. My diaphragm, actually all the muscles of my respiratory mechanism, feels like it has undergone a massive workout everytime we tackle that piece. I am not sure if I stated it explicitly in my previous posts but I am not a soloist. Don't get me wrong, I love singing in choir and I feel like I have worked hard to become a skilled chorister, but I have never felt that my voice works particularly well for solo settings. This is most likely due to low vocal confidence and the lack of any proper training or experience. However, I have come to the terms with the fact that I am not an opera star and that suits me just fine... as long as I still get to sing in choir of course.

The thing I really wanted to blog about though was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy since we have decided to be ambitious early in the year and add movement to our piece! This is very exciting (and somewhat out of the ordinary) for Belle Canto since we usually don't move very much during our performance, unless it is our Broadway Gala fundraiser, but that does not arrive until February. Adding movement to our pieces usually means that our rehearsal slightly resembles a physically challenged gong-show but I am glad to say that rehearsal wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. It's actually a lot of fun to rehearse since we don't mind making fun of ourselves. In the end I think everybody knows that the audience will appreciate our effort and we are guaranteed to entertain them in the process. Also, I think the new t.v. show, Glee, has bitten me with the musical theatre bug so I don't mind shamelessly showcasing myself. Furthermore, we have a whole set of snappy side-steps and oh-look-we're-so-cute poses as we make our way through Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. It should be quite a bit of fun next Friday!

If you are free in Edmonton that night you should come check out the performance! The details are as follows:

FRIDAY October 16, 2009 • 6:00 pm

Dive into decadence at our fall fundraiser. Cantilon pairs fine desserts with fine choral music for an evening sure to satisfy the connoisseur in you. Kindersingers, Primary Choir, Children’s Choir, Chamber Choir, Belle Canto

Winspear Centre for Music, Lobby • 9720-102 Avenue

Tickets • $15
Cantilon Office 780/732-1262