Nan Herring Shape Note Singing 2015

Herring Shape Note Singing

Saturday was one of those busy days where I needed to be about five people. Between potential paddling trips, Artisphere, Furman graduation, and other local festivals, there were lots of choices. I decided to head over to Furman for the 2015 Nan Herring Shape Note Singing.

The Nan Herring Singing is held each year on “the Saturday before the Second Sunday,” using the parlance of the singing community. This year and last year the date conflicts with Furman Graduation. This was not the case before Furman went on a semester system and graduation was in early June. The last time I came to this singing was in 2008, before the change, and we were able to use Herring Hall, where we rehearse for Chorale. This time, due to conflicts with the Furman Singers needing their home space, we held the singing on the stage of Daniel Recital Hall. Continue reading “Nan Herring Shape Note Singing 2015”

Music for the Soul

Today the Greenville Chorale Chamber Ensemble presents its winter concert at Furman’s Daniel Chapel. The program is entitled “Music for the Soul”, and the music was chosen to be both soothing and uplifting. We start the concert with Gabriel Faure’s Requiem as the major work on the piece. I’ve performed this piece several times, and … Continue reading Music for the Soul

Beethoven’s Ninth Video

Videographer Valdas Katovas recorded our spring concert, a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and Greenville Chorale. This video is the entire fourth movement. You can occasionally see me on the front row of the Chorale, next to the tympani and behind the trombones. Beethoven No 9 from Valdas Kotovas on … Continue reading Beethoven’s Ninth Video

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne

To Joy

Joy, thou beauteous godly lighting,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire drunken we are ent’ring
Heavenly, thy holy home!

Thy enchantments bind together,
What did custom stern divide;
Every man becomes a brother,
Where thy gentle wings abide.

Be embrac’d, ye millions yonder!
Take this kiss throughout the world!
Brothers—o’er the stars unfurl’d
Must reside a loving father.

–Friedrich Schiller, 1786

Last night the Greenville Chorale joined forces with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  The 9th is one of my favorite pieces, and I’ve had the privilege to perform it once before.  Last night’s performance, though was one of the most stirring I’ve ever experienced.

For the Chorale, the piece came together fairly quickly.  Many of us were familiar with the music, but also the chorus doesn’t sing that much in the concert.  We’re only there for the last half of the last movement of the piece – about 20 minutes worth. Bing Vick often let us out of rehearsals early, which was a nice change of pace.

However, that is a VERY challenging 20 minutes.  First there is the range.  The piece is written at the extreme upper vocal range for all parts.  I can’t think of another piece that has the basses singing a high F as many times and as long as this one does.  Then there was the tempo set by Maestro Tchivzhel – fast, then blindingly fast.  We had to squeeze a mouthful of German syllables into such a fast pace that I don’t think any of us got all of the words correct, even in the final performance.  Oh, yeah, they had to be on the right pitches and at the right dynamic, too.  It was a bear. Continue reading “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne”

Sacred Music for a Sacred Space

St George from Choir Loft

Sunday afternoon the Greenville Chorale Chamber Ensemble presented its annual concert at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The concert was entitled “Sacred Music for a Sacred Space” and featured sacred music by contemporary composers. The pairing of music with venue was well-planned, and somewhat modeled the liturgy that might be followed in a traditional service.

Saturday morning we had our dress rehearsal in the cathedral, and I brought along my camera to get a few shots of the interior. I started with exterior shots…

St George Exterior 1

…then moved to the interior to photograph the stunning mosaics above the altar.

St George Interior 1

St George Interior 3

St George Interior 2 Continue reading “Sacred Music for a Sacred Space”

Rapturous Music

I’m falling a bit behind in my blogging. I would claim that it was, indeed, another busy weekend with concerts, birthday parties, family illness, and all the other things that go into keeping a person hopping. Actually, I thought about giving up blogging all together since the world was supposed to end last Saturday, but … Continue reading Rapturous Music

A Carolina Christmas

Last night the Greenville Chorale gave its Carolina Christmas concert at McAlister Auditorium at Furman. We were joined by the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra, and we repeat the concert today at Mud Creek Baptist Church for the Hendersonville audience. (The photo above is from last year’s concert.) We’ve been working on the music since mid-October. The … Continue reading A Carolina Christmas

Multitrack Madness

Sgt Sony

A CappellaBack in 1985 my brother Houston introduced me to Todd Rundgren’s innovative album, A Cappella [sic]. Rundgren used digital sampling to create an album made up only of the human voice. He added distortion and manipulated the sounds to emulate drums and other instruments. Back then this was really impressive, and I was amazed that one human voice could create such music.

Of course, now this is common place. Beat-boxing came in with rap music about the time Rundgren’s album came out. TV shows like Glee have renewed interest in a capella singing, specifically with Do Wop and other popular music that wasn’t originally arranged for voices only. Combine that with technology that can turn just about any computer into a multi-track recording studio, and you have many people turning out their own a capella renditions. Continue reading “Multitrack Madness”

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St. George Ceiling

In case your Cyrillic is rusty, the title of this post is from Psalm 104, “Praise the Lord, O My Soul”, and is one of the pieces that make up part of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil. This weekend we performed the piece with the Greenville Chorale on Sunday afternoon at First Baptist Church.

This was a real challenge. The music itself wasn’t so hard, but there was so much of it. We did in an hour what we normally stretch out over two, when you add in soloists and orchestra. Throw in a layer of very difficult language, and you have a nearly impossible task.

I had done parts of the Vespers before, so I was somewhat familiar with the music. The sixth movement is the “Hail Mary” section, and I had done it several times with both the Latin Ave Maria text and the Russian. Even so, I found myself stumbling over music and text, even in the final performance. Continue reading “??????????-????-???”

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