Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Halfway Point

Greetings readers!

Pro Coro is on the hunt for a new artistic director and we're at the rehearsal halfway point with Michael Zaugg. When Zaugg introduced himself at the first rehearsal, he likened his brief rehearsal period with us to the social scenario of speed dating. We were there to get to know him, he was there to get to know us... and who knows, maybe marriage is in our future? While that initial proposition felt a bit premature, I'm all for keeping options open. I appreciated his accurate comparison and for calling the rehearsal process out on exactly what it is... a potentially awkward situation. He did break the ice nicely by shocking us with the fact that he knew everybody's name when he wowed us with his naming skills. A conductor who did his homework---impressive.

During the first rehearsal, I felt apprehensive to say the least. Mostly because there was an unexpected shift in the number of voices on certain parts. Thus, my neighbor and I did some last minute division of lines to cover a missing part which resulted in some sightreading. There have also been some moments of: "wow, I'm the only one on my part..." which is a mental thought that has been resurfacing for me over the past few rehearsals. Overall, not a problem but definitely an unexpected variable. During most of the rehearsals I think Pro Coro has been trying to get a read on what Zaugg's style is like. Should we sing more or less? What kind of sound does he like? Is that a glimmer of satisfaction or disgust in his eyes in response to how we sang that line? Oh no, do you think he even likes us?!?! Ah, the initially self-conscious thoughts in any budding relationship. 

All I know so far is that while Zaugg doesn't always facially express what he is thinking all the time, he is extremely articulate and will verbally express and vocally demonstrate exactly what he wants. He also has a pair of very finely tuned ears so he is able to identify people by name when he hears an incongruency in the choral sound. Terrifying in a way, but since it is delivered with the intent of musical betterment, it makes the rehearsal process much more efficient. Clearly, it is a signal that we're getting more comfortable working together. As a result, today I could hear Pro Coro's sound opening up during rehearsal.

The repertoire for Sunday's concert all revolves around different "paths of wonder," whether it is ascension into a heavenly realm or a pilgrimage to a sacred land. All I can say about the music is that I'm a huge fan of the overall repertoire sound. "Die Erste Elegie" by Rautavaara starts with a lovely pulsating melodic dissonance, "Auringon Noustessa" by Kuula indulges my passion for the Finnish language (which stems from my love for Finnish a capella group, Rajaton) so I'm enjoying rolling my r's and moving through the individual vowels in my diphthongs.  There are also some soaringly gorgeous solos in Boulanger's "Soir Sur La Plaine" amongst the chromatic choral lines. Furthermore, there is a choral setting of "Lux Aeterna" by Elgar with vocal lines mimicking the tensile strength of string instruments and Whitacre's "Lux Aurumque." The latter is a a piece I've wanted to perform since I've heard the first virtual choir (although I did not participate in the first virtual choir, I made up for it by submitting videos for the second virtual choir performance of "Sleep" a process which I documented in a series of blog posts). The most dense work of the program is Talbot's "Santiago" movement which is a part of the larger "Path of Miracles" set. All I can say about this piece is that I've been waiting a long time to sing something like this. It is epic. Also on the program are pieces by Ɓukaszewski, Gabrieli, Bach, and Brahms.

Pro Coro's concert with Zaugg is on November 20, 2011 @ 2:30 pm at McDougall United Church. You can find more information on tickets at this link.

Until next time, take care readers!

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