Sun Festival Carols

The next substantial work we are preparing for performance is Jenny McLeod‘s collection of Sun Festival Carols. These were written for a Sun Festival (does anyone remember this?) in Wellington in 1983. The carols are:

  1. Vulcan
  2. Ochre
  3. Azure
  4. Henna
  5. Gentian
  6. Indigo I
  7. Jade
  8. Indigo II

From this description of the Sun Festival, it appears that there were originally 7 songs, with Indigos I and II possibly later separated.

Capital Choir learned Indigo II many years back (it starts “Light of lights beholden”). The rest are new to most of us.

The choir is working from a copy of all 8 songs from SOUNZ. However on sites like YouTube the songs are best found under their individual titles. Here to whet your appetites is a performance of Vulcan by Euphony, Kristin School in the Big Sing 2011 final:


 

 

 

Advertisements

Puccini Mass: the concert announcement

puccini-concert-2017-v2Capital Choir and Wainuiomata Choir, under the direction of Sue Robinson, will perform Puccini’s Messa (often called Messa di Gloria) and Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine at a pair of concerts later this month. The concerts will be at 7:30 pm on Saturday 26 August at the Little Theatre, Queens Drive, Lower Hutt, and at 3:00 pm Sunday 27 August, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hill Street, Wellington. (I’m pretty sure that each choir will perform a piece of its own, too, but don’t quote me on that.) It’s going to be good!

Tickets are $25, concession $20, with a koha suggested for children 16 years and under.

Mid-year break

Yesterday evening’s rehearsal was the last of term 2. The first regular rehearsal in term 3 is on  Tuesday 25 July. In  the meantime, we can look forward to the sectional rehearsals for the Puccini Mass with Wainuiomata Choir on Saturday 15 July at Central Baptist Church. The programme is:

  • 10:30 to 12:00: Men only
  • 12:00 to 13:00: Lunch (bring your own or buy it at one of many shops in the area).
  • 13:00 to 15:00: Men and women

Parking across the road in Wilson Parking is available at their normal weekend rate: $6 for 12 hours (pay & display). There is also parking available in Gilmer Terrace at the top of Boulcott Street—both Wilson & Tournament parks at a day rate of $3 or $4. Note that parking on the surrounding street is free on the weekend but there will probably be few vacant spaces and it is limited to 2 hours.

Wainuiomata Choir will continue to rehearse on Thursdays (7:15 pm at 106 Main Rd, Wainuiomata). Capital Choir members are welcome to join in.

The other pieces we are rehearsing at the moment are Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine and (this is a secret) World from Shaky Places. Here’s a link to rehearsal files for Cantique:

http://www.choralia.net/fr04mp3/

Rehearsal files for World are available on the Shaky Places page:

https://capitalchoir.wordpress.com/rehearsal-files/

 

Puccini Mass: the concerts

In August Capital Choir will join with the Wainuiomata Choir to perform Puccini’s Mass in not one, but two, concerts in one glorious weekend:

More information  will follow.

For choristers from both choirs there will be combined rehearsals in the preceding week on the evening for each choir:

  • Tuesday 22 August, Sacred Heart Cathedral, time to be confirmed, but probably the usual time of 7.15pm
  • Thursday 24 August, Little Theatre, time to be confirmed, but probably the usual time of 7.15pm

In the meantime, members of each choir are welcome to join the other’s rehearsals, or so I understand. These are at:

  • Tuesday evening, 7:15 pm, Capital Choir at Central Baptist Church, 46 Boulcott St, Wellington 6011
  • Thursday evening, 7:15 pm, Wainuiomata Choir at Union Church Hall, 106 Main Rd, Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt 5014.

Capital Choir has joined with other choirs in the past and in my opinion it’s invariably been a very enjoyable experience.

Term 2 begins

woolwich-arsenalCapital Choir’s term 2 begins this evening with a rehearsal at Central Baptist Church. Since this is the first Tuesday of the month, we will be upstairs in the auditorium. We will get back into the Puccini Mass and will also reprise the Donizetti Requiem for those attending the May Workshop this weekend. It’s time to get back to work!

Choral learning files

When I’m learning a choral piece, I really need to learn the notes of my part before I can start to understand its relationship with the others. (And that is why I am not a musical director. That, and my temperament, and my shaky sense of pitch, and…) So I am a great fan of choral learning files.

My go-to site used to be Cyberbass. Here is the Cyberbass page for the Puccini Mass:

I can’t find the Fauré Cantique on Cyberbass.

Cyberbass uses a file format called MIDI, but these days the files cannot be downloaded, instead they are played from the web page via a browser plug-in. This works well enough with most browsers on most PCs; I don’t know about mobile devices. There’s a separate file for each choral part, plus one that combines all four. There doesn’t seem to be any accompaniment, still you should be able to follow the music with the aid of a score.

The site I have tended to use recently is Choralia. This site uses a technology called Virtual Singer (VS), as the choral parts are “sung” by synthesised voices. This sounds quite weird at first, but is surprisingly helpful (but don’t take it as a guide to vocal nuance or expression). Choralia offers the VS files themselves, but it’s much easier to deal with the MP3 audio files. Here are links to the Puccini Mass and the Fauré Cantique:

I prefer the “Voice with Metronome, Organ” option. You can (probably) play these by clicking on them in your browser, otherwise you can download them (yes, this is a bit tedious for the 12 movements of the Mass) and play them on any media player. I like to listen to them on my MP3 player at the gym.

Puccini Messa di Gloria

Well, I guess the word is out: Capital Choir will perform Puccini’s Messa di Gloria later this year. The Wikipedia page has the information that the usual title is a misnomer, as it is a full Mass and not a true Messa di Gloria, which would contain only the Kyrie and Gloria. That’s fascinating, to someone with pedantic leanings like me. It was written when Giacomo Puccini was in his early 20s, as his graduation exercise from the Istituto Musicale Pacini. In this respect it has parallels with another piece we will perform, Gabriel Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine, which was written by the composer at 19 for a composition competition at the École Niedermeyer de Paris. (He won.) Both are remarkable pieces for such young composers.

I encountered the Puccini Messa for the first time at choir rehearsal this week, having unavoidably missed a few weeks. I still don’t know what to make of it. So I scanned YouTube for a few performances, as you do, and found several that didn’t really convince me. But I think I like this one: