11 February 2014

Sunday brim-full o' musick

[ 9 Feb ]

As reported after the fact:

Dear L-,

Good morning! I think the extra outlay of energies this weekend past - the semi-nervous anticipation and preparation for the radio interview, a little undercurrent concern for the Alleluia in D (we kept wanting to sing C# in the m.32ff passage in e minor, and this disinclination of pitch was apt to throw the rest of the choir in doubt . . . and then we had seeming trouble going from G at the cadence of that long period, to the F# which begins the final section), the modest efforts to make sure that the bell ringers' parts for Divinum mysterium were properly marked, and then: on my way to the interview, I got lost! Michael had of course given me the address, so I knew that I had that info . . . I also had a link to directions in Google Maps, so I did not think to take note of the address, as I counted on it being there in the Google Maps directions.

However that may be: Michael had suggested that I arrive at half past two; and the directions in Google Maps informed me that the drive would take 37 minutes, so I left home at ten minutes of two. The drive was smooth and the directions served me perfectly well getting to Nashua; but at the last, Google Maps turned me off onto a dead-end street, and told me my destination, a half-constructed residence in a condominium development, was on my left.

Well, I have Michael's cell number, so I rang; but he couldn't pick up (must have been busy with pre-show prep, himself). And I was now in the hills of southern New Hampshire, and my Droid was not responding with its wonted rapidity. I was somewhere in Nashua, not where I needed to be, the clock read 2:33 - and I needed to be at a mic at 3:00.

I roll back down the hill to the main-ish road, and look around. Mercifully, I spy a Police Station. I make my way thither, and stop the car in the parking lot of the Station; I try ringing again, try to coax Google to search for me on my Droid - nothing in both cases. I step inside.

A very nice lady comes up to the reception window and asks if she might help me. "I do hope so; I'm lost. I'm trying to find a radio station where I am to be the guest for an interview, but Google maps somehow sent me into a development site."

Yes, she remarked, there used to be a radio station up on that hill, but they've moved (and I think they may have rearranged their call letters in the process of the move). Anyway, this sainted lady steps back to her desk, and returns to me two minutes later with a phone number and an address - and I do recognize the address as that which Michael had given me earlier, 159 Main Street. I thank her warmly (she had printed out hard copy of directions for me). Given the actual street address, I knew Google Maps could be relied upon.

At the last, I walked into the studio at 2:57, which was (for us now-a-go-go composers) plenty of time . . . I shed my coat, drew my pad with notes out of my MFA sack, and sat down to my microphone.

As I was saying, though - oh! And the Alleluia in D, had gone well, though imperfectly. In the pre-service rehearsal we went over the "difficult" passage several times, slowly. I don't know why we were failing to hear that C-natural, nor why that sliver of doubt threw other singers into pitch disarray. But there was, apparently, no time to fix it permanently.

During the service, I gave them the D from the piano. I started to conduct them, and right off we generated a pitch cloud, in the spirit of Ligeti. Half of us were singing at half-tempo; and I quickly judged that there was no simple recovery, apart from just starting over. I stopped them. One of my sopranos cheerfully asked, "Would you like to start over?" I smiled so that they should understand it isn't the end of the world, and said, "Oh, I thought I might." One of the many things I am grateful for in this choir, is the overall good nature; we're all friends.

Started afresh, the piece went really quite well. As is so often the case, we performers are alive to each of the problems which need to be addressed; but the performance rolled on without seriously losing its step, and the overall result was that the choir projected the music well. A few parishioners complimented the choir on a beautiful anthem.

And now, yes! I must wrap up that baritone saxophone . . . .

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