Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Virtual Choir Completion!


I have finished all 4 video entries to Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir! I'm so excited I was able to get them all done in time. Originally, I was only going to do one (soprano 2) video but then I decided I should make the most of my new microphone.

I filmed my Alto 1 entry on Christmas Day... because I didn't really have anything better to do in the afternoon before Christmas dinner. I also practiced the S1 and A2 part but my voice was tired from all the singing already so I couldn't record the other two videos.

Today I started with the A2 video to get it out of the way since my voice does a funny thing in that when I am too warmed up... I can't sing below a middle C. Not the most convenient thing, I know. It took 3 or 4 tries to get a good take and one of my best takes was ruined because my Dad started hammering nails into the door downstairs and that penetrated all the way into my track. After a sigh of exasperation and some silent fist shaking I just reminded myself that the thing about recording is that there is no perfect take. Well, for me at least. Just good enough and the next track I got was good enough for me to post. I only recorded the soprano 1 track three times and the second one was best so I scrapped the other two. The most tricky thing was just learning the notes between the video filming. Most of the notes were the same but there are some tricky ones that only differ by a note or two so you can't go on autopilot.

However, it is finished! The new deadline is January 10, 2011 so you still have time if you haven't entered yet. Think about it, I was able to film two videos in just one afternoon. Look through the music, sing along with another virtual choir entry, and just go for it. This is no longer the time for procrastination since the deadline is creeping up. I have a feeling the project is looking more for mere numbers than impeccable quality if that makes you feel better. Check out my previous post for all the instructions! Now, we just need to wait until the Spring to see what the Virtual Choir looks like assembled!

Take care and hope you are having a wonderful holiday season!

You don't have to watch them since they're kinda boring to listen to on their own but, if you have time to kill, you can line up the four videos (using the beep at the beginning) and you can hear me sing for you a 4-part choir :)

Soprano 2

Alto 1

Alto 2

Soprano 1

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Greetings readers!

After a few weeks of Christmas music choral frenzy for me, everything culminated in a free noon hour carol-o-thon at the Winspear Centre to raise money for the Edmonton Christmas Bureau, which is a charity that provides meals for families during Christmas. Afterwards, we were extended an invitation to participate in a flash mob by the Edmonton Opera. They wanted us to sing the Hallelujah chorus over in the City Centre Mall. Random, I know.

Most of the singers headed over to the mall, and upon arriving, I immediately noticed media cameras perched all around the mall square and surrounding balconies. The Hallelujah chorus began playing over the intercom speakers at precisely 1:15 pm. In all truthfulness, it was not a real flash mob. I think of a flash mob when one person starts singing, then two, then three, then everybody involved. They should also be doing something ordinary... not just standing around. For our flash mob some people were using music and we were all clumped around the base of the Christmas tree not trying very hard to look incognito. There were camera crews weaving their way through the chorus and a few of my friends got some lovely singing close-ups. I think my favorite was when a man, who was clearly not a part of the mob, was going up the escalators and singing along with us as he ascended in his pinstripe business suit. Clearly, he was just on his lunch break since the rest of us were wearing our winter coats having just walked from the Winspear Centre.

It was a lovely way to bring some random Christmas joy to fellow shoppers :) Here are two videos from the afternoon:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cheesy Christmas

You know what Christmas wouldn't be the same without?

Cheesy Christmas music.

Maybe I'm becoming a somewhat jaded chorister from singing too many mass choir pieces but I've developed a knack for recognizing cheesy songs that are inserted into a musical program for the specific purpose of melting an audiences' heart. Don't get me wrong, I love a good cheesy choral piece as the next chorister, but there are some that just make me sing with a perma-grin because their ulterior motives are not so subtle.

A piece that Pro Coro is singing with the Edmonton Youth Choir is called "Night of Silence" by Daniel Kantor and it has the components for all good cheesy choral music. Lyrics that are trying a bit too hard to be deep, a gentle melodic piano line, and an unexpected fusion of melodies. It's the choral composer's equivalent of a mash-up. There is one part in "Night of Silence" where the soprano's and altos are singing:

Spirit among us, shine like the star,
Your light that guides shepherds and kings from afar

Alright, that's harmless enough, but it's paired with the tenors and baritones singing:

Silent Night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright

It's so bad but so good at the same time :) I can hear the men in the choir really going for it with hyperexpressive diction and Il-Divo"esque" melodic flare. It keeps our rehearsals interesting and entertaining! Thanks guys!

You can get a taste for the song below:

The First 255 Voices

You know what is cool?

I'm Virtual Choir Entry #176.

That is all :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sing We Nowell

'Tis the season of Christmas concerts!

I have so many musical commitments going on that I can barely keep up with attending them all let alone blogging about them! I feel like I'm running from one rehearsal, to another dress rehearsal, to a carolling gig, and then back to another rehearsal, before doing it all over again the next day.

Today I started my day off with 3.5h dress rehearsal for our "Sing We Nowell" concert that is happening tomorrow at Winspear Centre. It was a relatively stress-free dress rehearsal. The carols are the same ones we have done in previous years and most of the tedious details were in the pacing and symmetry of the candlelight procession. It's not my favorite thing to run through but it's a necessary evil. The candlelight procession completes my Christmas. The rippling acoustic waves that are generated by the angelic processing voices entering the auditorium is goosebump-inducing.

If you are free Sunday, December 5 at 2:30 pm. Come to the Winspear Centre for some Christmas music goodness!
Click here for more details.

Here is a taste of "The Holly and the Ivy" from today's rehearsal. Please excuse my amateur video skills.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Start to the Christmas Season

Wow, I had a fantastic time at Michael Kaeshammer's concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) with opening artist, Jill Barber. It was like being transferred to another time. A time when singers sang into rectangular metallic microphones, where dresses were more crinoline than fabric, and getting dressed up to go to a dance was a ritualistic coming-of-age event. O.k, so I can't confess that I've lived those those golden times, but my stereotypical images are heavily influenced by the 1955 scenes from Back to the Future. And from what I can tell? It was one classy era.

I definitely felt classy listening to the warm and smoky tones of Barber's voice. Not only is she gorgeous to listen to and watch with her expressive face and arms, but her sweetheart halter dress did not disappoint my fashion expectations of her. She opened with a new song, "Mischevious Moon," which is the name of her new album to be due out in the Spring. She also made her way through audience favorites such as "Chances" and "Never Quit Loving You." During the performance, she detailed a heartwarming story about girl meets boy, girl meets another boy, girl meets man, girl becomes woman, and man and woman marry. Heart wrenching past histories and happy endings seem to inspire love songs. She introduced her final song, "Oh My My," with a story about how the tune came to be. She woke up singing it in a dream. Barber was also eager to receive audience participation to echo her choruses, and although the audience gave a good try, it wasn't anything compared to what I heard Folk Fest crowds belting out from the hillside. Her short opening set list was over to soon for my liking but hopefully I will have the chance to see her again soon. Maybe the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra will bring her back for another joint concert? A girl can hope.

Of course, the headliner of the evening was Kaeshammer and I can definitely see why. He is a pianist, vocalist, and conductor all-in-one that happens to have fantastic showmanship skills as well. He radiates energy on stage and, frankly, sometimes I don't know how he managed to stay seated on the piano bench. At any moment in the program he could be found simultaneously playing the grand piano with one hand, with another hand on the electric keyboard behind him, tapping his left foot to the beat and bending his right ear to his right shoulder to signal the downbeat to his band members.

Kaeshammer succeeded in making the expansive Winspear Centre feel like an intimate nightclub that happened to have excellent acoustics. He did some lovely orchestral arrangements of "Mary's Boy Child," "Merry Christmas Baby," "Marshmallow World," and "I'll be Home for Christmas" with the ESO in addition to his toe-tappingly catchy solo pieces such as "Lovelight." The ESO definitely was more of a back-up band since his own personal band was at the forefront, both physically and musically. However, it's not everyday I hear such orchestral richness backing up a boogie woogie musical act so it was quite a treat.

Another amazing point in the program? Definitely when Kaeshammer had a little musical face-off with his drummer where they tried to surpass each other in tempo and musical technicality.

Overall, a fantastic way to start December and the Christmas season!

Take care and stay warm readers!