Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Quiet of Summer


Greetings readers,

Summer is a quiet time for me as a chorister. While my more musically devoted friends are spending the time touring with their choirs and attending summer music programs, I am back at home finishing my thesis. All is fine and well since I know I have a busy choral season ahead of me as Pro Coro is auditioning three new artistic directors with consecutive concerts in the Fall months and Belle Canto will be back in rehearsals.

Until that time, however, I have very little musical choral inspiration these days. The Chamber Choir I was previously in has returned from the Wales Eisteddfod with some shiny new trophies and we also heard news that Belle Canto won the Equal Voices Women's Choir category at the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs. I feel a bit of disconnected with the latter trophy since this competition has manifested itself into different forms over the past few years. It used to be hosted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Choral Concert program and making it into the final round would require a live-radio sing-off with the competing choir. We would be singing in Edmonton and our rival choir would be singing in Toronto. That was awesome. No second takes and live-to-air broadcast. However, that is no longer the case. Now you just need to submit one recording and it you make it through the semi-finals your recording gets forwarded to the finals round committee. It does save the choir some work though since we no longer need to assemble for a final round in the middle of May. I just think the win doesn't seem as satisfying when we're not competing live.

That is all the choir updates I have for now. I am thoroughly looking forward to the Symphony Under the Sky Music Festival that will be happening at the start of September and will definitely be attending some shows. I'll write more preview posts once that arrives!

Until next time, enjoy the summer!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Congratulations CCC!

 Photo Credit: Llangollen Website

Hello readers,

I must say a huge amount of congratulations to the choir of my teenage years: The Cantilon Chamber Choir for winning first place in the Youth Choir category at the Llangollen Music Eisteddfod in Wales this year! I saw that they also managed to snag second place for the Female Choirs category as well. Very nicely done.

How far technology has come since the years that I performed in this very same festival. All there was in 2003 was a slowly updated website with photos that linked to an expensive photo purchase site. Not very exciting. I was impressed with the social media presence of the festival. Also, they have all the video media from the festival streaming on their website! It's is great for people like me who can't attend the festival but who want to hear what's going on. It's a bit of deja vu watching their performances since I've sung most of the pieces and have worn that very same uniform on that stage. There was one point when they were singing "Hosanna" in the Senior Children's Choir category and it was like I was on the stage with them. I could breathe the humid air, smell the sweet scent from the fresh flowers that lined the stage, and see the haze of the audience underneath the amphitheater tent stage lights. Although I do not recognize many of the faces there, it's comforting and exciting to see the new generation of the choirs' singers.

It also appears that the "Choir of the World" award goes to the Adventist University of the Philippines. I listened to their Choir of the World competition piece. Typical sacred Latin text set to music. It's very nicely done but I would have loved to have heard something with a bit more musical character. It felt like a safe choice. Listening to choirs at an international festival is the time to get inspired by wonderful choral pieces and have a chance to hear things I haven't heard before. I wasn't particularly moved by their choice in repertoire. Take a listen and tell me what you think.

Also, you can bet that I'm going to be combing through the video archives listening to the other choirs. If I find anything that sparks my attention, I'll be sure to post it here. If you find something that is interesting feel free to post it in the comments below!

If you need a recommendation for what to listen to first, I would suggest the winning Cantilon Chamber Choir Youth Choir Class :)

Until next time, take care readers!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Playing the Part

What's one step towards becoming a legitimate artist?

For me... it's composing a biography. I've always attributed biographies to people who have credentials. A section where an artist can list their schooling, accomplishments, hopes, dreams etc. in an eloquent and informative paragraph.

What about for somebody who doesn't see themselves as having credentials?

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from Pro Coro stating that they were looking to compile biographies and headshots. First thing that went through my mind?

"Oh, no. People will discover what a complete professional chorister fraud I am."

I do not have a PhD in choral conducting, a Masters in Voice performance, or even a Bachelors in Fine Arts. Frankly, I'm just a Science student who has a very passionate interest in choral music. But maybe that's a good thing? Maybe an amateur choir singer reading my biography on the Pro Coro website can come to realize that, hey, you just need a passion and willingness to learn in order to do something to love and you don't need international training to accomplish that. Of course, it's great to have the musical training to provide an excellent background, but I came to the realization that it's not the only factor. And that I also shouldn't be ashamed of my musical background since it has gotten me this far. Perhaps I was too quick to write myself off as a total fraud?

I went to the first thing I had available for biography help, a "Singspiration 2011" brochure lying next to my laptop. Inside were five lovely music biographies of guest conductors at this camp. I perused them all. I refrained from being jealous of their content and looked solely at their structure. Using this scaffold, I composed my first biography draft. They all seemed to have the following components: where the artist came from, what they have done, their educational credentials and the places they received them, awards, what they're up to now, and how in-demand they are. Since I didn't have the information to fill out all these sections, I had to substitute with things that I have done. I sent my draft to some friends, and after incorporating their edits and embellishments, I settled on this edition. For the purpose of this blog post, I have used my internet alias "misssable". Feel free to peruse it for yourself :)

misssable is an avid chorister who was raised within the local Edmonton choir community. During her formative musical years, misssable participated in large number of groups ranging from the Schola Cantorum Junior, Intermediate, and Youth Choirs to the Cantilon Chamber Choir. While in university, misssable was a member of both the University of Alberta Madrigal Singers and the Belle Canto Women's Ensemble. Over the years, misssable has participated in a variety of choral music festivals, both at the local and national level.  Highlighted festival experiences include her appearances at the Edmonton Kiwanis and Podium Music Conference, as well as in the CBC Choral Competition for Amateur Choirs. She has also toured extensively to various international festivals, including The National Eisteddfod of Wales, the Béla Bartók Choir Competition, and the Cork International Choral Festival. misssable possesses a Bachelor of Science degree and is currently completing a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology, both from the University of Alberta. In addition to being an active member of both Belle Canto and Pro Coro Canada, misssable demonstrates her passion for the art of choral music as the author of the popular "Choirgirl" blog.  She is thrilled to be sharing her love of choral music with the Pro Coro community again this season.
Until next time, take care readers!