Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Choral Opportunity

Greetings readers!

Now that many of my fellow Belle Canto choristers are back in Canada, and Amy B. finished up the last of her guest blogger posts, it is time for this blog to be transferred back to my choral-centric ways. I can't say that I've been too busy with choir for the past while. While Belle Canto was in Italy, I was constantly checking my Facebook for photo and status updates from the choir. Even though I wasn't there... I really felt like I was there. When I would see photos of the whole choir performing I could see the spot where I would be standing and the sites I would have seen had I been with them. However, I don't feel too sorry about myself since I am actually headed to Italy in August! Just because I can't participate in the competition doesn't mean I can't tour the country on my own. This time next week I will be in Rome!

I suppose it is time to give you all an update what I have been up to during the time my choir was away. Yes, I was busy with all my school and clinic commitments but I have also had an ongoing project from the end of April. If some of you may remember a recording project I took on at the end of April, which I blogged about in this post, I can now report what those recordings were actually for. I was actually auditioning to be on the substitute list for the professional adult choir here in Edmonton: Pro Coro.

Shocking, I know!

For my fellow choristers reading this entry---do not fear! I am not leaving Belle Canto. I just thought it was time that I tried something new. It was rather impulsive decision. I was just randomly on their website while I was taking a break from studying for my Motor Speech Disorders final, and their sidebar message had me hooked:

They were still going to consider audio submissions for singers to be placed on the substitute list! I thought this was the perfect opportunity! I knew that I wouldn't have the time to be a full-time member, since I'm still in a full-time Master's program, but I thought that being on the substitute list would provide me a chance to sing with them without being tied down for the whole season. Most of the choristers in Pro Coro are professional musicians or they are voice students studying at the University. A little bit out of my comfort zone but I'm used to being the odd one out when it comes to performing in these groups.

My audio submissions were considered and I received a message back saying that there was a possibility that I would be considered for the substitute list. That was nice of them to let me know! Then a few weeks ago I received and e-mail from the assistant conductor, telling me that they were interested in hearing me live to assess my musical and sight-reading skills. I was worried. It has been years since I've done a live audition (we don't re-audition the same choristers every year in Belle Canto to save time). It was also one of those times where I wish I would have taken an aural skills class in University. I knew sight-reading would be tricky for me because I'm actually not the best sightreader. In choir, after the first run-through of a piece, we hardly ever sightread just for the fun of it so I rarely practice sightreading. Learning notes quickly in a choir is one thing but what about musical group sensitivity? How can that be assessed while in an audition situation? Sometimes I feel like you're tested like a soloist in a choir audition. However, I also realized that if I want to get into more professional groups, I was going to have to learn how to go through a professional audition process in order to get into them. It's high time I stopped complaining and did something about it.

On the day of the audition, I went warmed up, dressed well, and ready to get beat-down by the sightreading passages. It was actually a pretty calm experience. I had trouble getting a good breath at some times so my breath support did not fuel me as long as I would have liked for some of the long aria passages. However, chord and interval singing, range testing etc. went smoothly. The sight-reading started easy and got progressively more complicated. By the end I had no idea what the line was supposed to sound like. It looked at the notes and they were all just random intervals all over the staff. I tried my best and moved on.

Another interesting part was when I was asked to sing a "whole tone scale". I tried to grasp at the residual theory knowledge from my childhood and realized I was thinking of a "whole tone" but that was not necessarily a "whole tone scale." I looked at my auditioner puzzled. I knew that feigning understanding would not serve me well so I confessed I was not familiar with that term. He played the scale for me a few more times. It sounded strange. Definitely something I had not sung before. He played it one more time and asked me to try it. I butchered it. Then he explained to me the 4th note was a tritone and to try again and I got it spot-on. Hopefully, I was able to learn it quickly enough to convince him that I'm not a complete musical dud.

The whole audition didn't last for very long, and before I knew it, I was being escorted out the door. He told me he would run my audition results and recordings pass the principal conductor, Richard Sparks, and that they would get back to me. Overall, I was just glad for the opportunity to step out of my musical box.

Anyway, a few days after I received a message from Mr. Sparks. They would like me to sing at the first concert of their season on October 3, 2010. I heartily consented!

Sometimes, when you've been in a choir for too long, you no longer feel challenged and start wondering if you're actually any good because you don't feel like you're actually getting any better. I took this audition process to see how I compared to other choristers in the city and it seems like I'm good enough to at least fill in! Hey, that works for me! I'm excited for this opportunity and to see what new things I can learn throughout the process. Stay tuned in September as I definitely will have thoughts in relation to the rehearsal process.

Until next time, take care readers!


Avocational Singer said...

I was so glad to read your post tonight. I have been thinking of auditioning for a higher level choir but have been worried about sight reading and whole tone scales etc... I just came from a choir festival where I was singing with a lot of high level singers and the experience was exhilarating and left me wanting more. Hearing how you made it through your audition process successfully makes me a little braver to go out and try.

misssable said...

Avocational Singer-I strongly recommend that you auditioning for the higher level choir. I think what I realized is that the worst they could say is no and I would be alright if that was the case. If people never took risks then there wouldn't be any change. I highly recommend you try out! I'm cheering for you from this end :) Sometimes all you need is a little support and persuasion. My persuasion was when some twitter followers told me to go for it when I wasn't sure. Also, being in a higher level choir does wonders for your singing. You learn so much faster since it's like to learn through musical osmosis when you are the presence of others :)

Heidi said...

Hey Sable - congrats! Have a bit of jealousy going too...SATB! Pro Coro! Yay for you.

misssable said...

Thanks Heidi! My heart still lies with Belle Canto :)