Day twenty-three

Today we had two performances, wow. It was a tiring but exciting day.

In the morning we had our Mixed Chamber Choir section, which has a maximum of 30 people in it. Our choir has 35, but we found out that it’s a maximum of 30 people per song, not a total of 30, so we were able to switch some voices around. We sang my favourite piece, Dixit Dominus (if you’ve seen us sing, it’s the one where we split into three choirs), Surrexit Dominus, the Stanhope Ave Verum Corpus (ie. the atonal one. Not so pretty as the Drury, but very clever), and Slangpolska Efter Byss-Kalle.

This performance was at the Christchurch cathedral, where the sound echoed out over the stone floors. I don’t know what it sounded like from the audience’s perspective, but I think it must have worked. The location seemed to really suit most of our repertoire.

One of the major benefits of sitting out of the middle two chamber choir songs was that I could hear how some of the more complicated pieces were pulling together and the bits that felt wrong to sing actually sounded really good.

We had lunch at the Duke Centre afterwards, then rushed off to the Masonic Hall, where our afternoon performance was. For this section, Musica Contemporanea, we sang Shore, Gloria, Lament and Biegga Luohte.

I tells ya, the relief after finishing all of our sections was great. Once there were no more performances in front of us we were totally able to relax and even though there are still events for us to attend, we’ve done all the high-pressure stuff. Yaay!

We had to rush to get changed and have dinner, then we went off to the awards ceremony for yesterday’s category, Music of Religions. The place we were in was kinda like a stadium, but with a roof. Oh, and it was right next to a baseball stadium where there was a game going on, so we had to push through a crowd of people with red shirts on who were going to cheer their team on. In our blue shirts we really stood out from the crowd, so it was easy to follow through.

The announcements were so dramatic. With such-and-such number of points, a choir! With another amount of points slightly higher, another choir! We waited with bated breath as our category was read through, and finally we were announced with a silver medal! 75.45 points – not bad for my first go! That’s like a Distinction in Uni – woo!

Considering that last year we were in the open competition and this year was our first in the champions competition, it’s stunning to believe we’ve managed to achieve this much! What a leap – newbies to old-timers, practically.

The next awards are being announced tomorrow – not long now!


6 Responses to “Day twenty-three”

  1. 1 tom davison
    July 15, 2012 at 18:54

    A silver in the bag! – amongst the champs!!
    from light to bright, like halogen lamps;
    like a well-oiled machine you slide up a gear,
    gaining extra points to pull you clear.

    you’re functioning now in overdrive
    with no time to waste, no pointless jive;
    you’ve powered your way to the final round
    leaving others behind, in awe of your sound.

    we wait expectantly for your last results,
    we’re sure they’ll make you proud;
    whatever they are you’ve all done your best,
    and your praises will be sung out loud.

    Battle of the choirs was a watershed,
    broadening the choir’s ambitions.
    It now can claim to be a world’s best choir
    thanks to its breadth of traditions.

    Well done guys 🙂
    See you soon.

  2. 2 Judi walker
    July 15, 2012 at 19:41

    Awesome news. Well done everyone.

  3. 3 tom davison
    July 15, 2012 at 20:24

    Now that the pressure’s off, here’s some light reading for the flight home:-)

    Each voice part sings in a different range, and each one has a very different personality. You may ask, “Why should singing different notes make people act differently?”, and indeed this is a mysterious question and has not been adequately studied, especially since scientists who study musicians tend to be musicians themselves and have all the peculiar complexes that go with being tenors, french horn players, timpanists, or whatever. However, this is beside the point; the fact remains that the four voice parts can be easily distinguished, and I will now explain how.

    THE SOPRANOS are the ones who sing the highest, and because of this they think they rule the world. They have longer hair, fancier jewelry, and swishier skirts than anyone else, and they consider themselves insulted if they are not allowed to go at least to a high F in every movement of any given piece. When they reach the high notes, they hold them for at least half again as long as the composer and/or conductor requires, and then complain that their throats are killing them and that the composer and conductor are sadists. Sopranos have varied attitudes toward the other sections of the chorus, though they consider all of them inferior. Altos are to sopranos rather like second violins to first violins – nice to harmonize with, but not really necessary. All sopranos have a secret feeling that the altos could drop out and the piece would sound essentially the same, and they don’t understand why anybody would sing in that range in the first place – it’s so boring. Tenors, on the other hand, can be very nice to have around; besides their flirtation possibilities (it is a well-known fact that sopranos never flirt with basses), sopranos like to sing duets with tenors because all the tenors are doing is working very hard to sing in a low-to-medium soprano range, while the sopranos are up there in the stratosphere showing off. To sopranos, basses are the scum of the earth – they sing too damn loud, are useless to tune to because they’re down in that low, low range – and there has to be something wrong with anyone who sings in the F clef, anyway.

    THE ALTOS are the salt of the earth – in their opinion, at least. Altos are unassuming people, who would wear jeans to concerts if they were allowed to. Altos are in a unique position in the chorus in that they are unable to complain about having to sing either very high or very low, and they know that all the other sections think their parts are pitifully easy. But the altos know otherwise. They know that while the sopranos are screeching away on a high A, they are being forced to sing elaborate passages full of sharps and flats and tricks of rhythm, and nobody is noticing because the sopranos are singing too loud (and the basses usually are too). Altos get a deep, secret pleasure out of conspiring together to tune the sopranos flat. Altos have an innate distrust of tenors, because the tenors sing in almost the same range and think they sound better. They like the basses, and enjoy singing duets with them – the basses just sound like a rumble anyway, and it’s the only time the altos can really be heard. Altos’ other complaint is that there are always too many of them and so they never get to sing really loud.

    THE TENORS are spoiled. That’s all there is to it. For one thing, there are never enough of them, and choir directors would rather sell their souls than let a halfway decent tenor quit, while they’re always ready to unload a few altos at half price. And then, for some reason, the few tenors there are are always really good – it’s one of those annoying facts of life.. So it’s no wonder that tenors always get swollen heads – after all, who else can make sopranos swoon? The one thing that can make tenors insecure is the accusation (usually by the basses) that anyone singing that high couldn’t possibly be a real man.. In their usual perverse fashion, the tenors never acknowledge this, but just complain louder about the composer being a sadist and making them sing so damn high. Tenors have a love-hate relationship with the conductor, too, because the conductor is always telling them to sing louder because there are so few of them. No conductor in recorded history has ever asked for less tenor in a forte passage. Tenors feel threatened in some way by all the other sections – the sopranos because they can hit those incredibly high notes; the altos because they have no trouble singing the notes the tenors kill themselves for; and the basses because, although they can’t sing anything above an E, they sing it loud enough to drown the tenors out. Of course, the tenors would rather die than admit any of this. It is a little-known fact that tenors move their eyebrows more than anyone else while singing.

    THE BASSES sing the lowest of anybody. This basically explains everything. They are stolid, dependable people, and have more facial hair than anybody else. The basses feel perpetually unappreciated, but they have a deep conviction that they are actually the most important part (a view endorsed by musicologists, but certainly not by sopranos or tenors), despite the fact that they have the most boring part of anybody and often sing the same note (or in endless fifths) for an entire page. They compensate for this by singing as loudly as they can get away with – most basses are tuba players at heart. Basses are the only section that can regularly complain about how low their part is, and they make horrible faces when trying to hit very low notes. Basses are charitable people, but their charity does not extend so far as tenors, whom they consider effete poseurs. Basses hate tuning the tenors more than almost anything else. Basses like altos – except when they have duets and the altos get the good part. As for the sopranos, they are simply in an alternative universe which the basses don’t understand at all. They can’t imagine why anybody would ever want to sing that high and sound that bad when they make mistakes. When a bass makes a mistake, the other three parts will cover him, and he can continue on his merry way, knowing that sometime, somehow, he will end up at the root of the chord.

    Author unknown.

    • July 16, 2012 at 04:43

      Haha, that’s great 😀 As I’m reading this I’m wearing jeans and feeling as though I fit the alto criteria almost perfectly. Thanks for all your help back home – it’ll be great to get back into regular practice, hey?

    • 5 Annie
      July 16, 2012 at 05:04

      I’ve lost it with laughter!

    • 6 Lesley
      July 16, 2012 at 05:07

      That is excellent, Tom!! There are a few of us sitting in Cincinnati airport waiting for our flights and having a great old laugh – because it is all sssoooo true!!! Very clever stuff! Lesley (one of the jean-wearing altos)

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