Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sixth Rehearsal

Our sixth rehearsal was HOT! Even though we turned the air conditioning on an hour ahead, it never was working enough to cool us off. Singing warms you up anyway, and with the ineffective AC, we were all singing and sweating, fanning ourselves with our scores when not singing!

We started practicing the Bach in the order that will sing it, that means inserting the interpolations where they belong. We got through 4 choruses and 3 interpolations, even under less than ideal conditions. We hope that by the next rehearsal the AC will work better or the heat wave will be over!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Fifth Rehearsal that was

After the chaos of last week, the Pass Chorale met for our fifth rehearsal. After lots of chatter about our mishaps, Ernest invited everyone to the Dragonfly Gala. Then we opened our music to the first movement of the Bach Magnificat. Yes, we did remember it, and even with our reduced forces (many away), it sounded good. We started practicing the music in its proper order, which means putting the Christmas Interpolations in the piece where we’ll sing them. In the score they are all in an appendix. Two of the interpolations are in German. We spent some time going over the words with help from Bass, Monty, who knows German well.

We ended our rehearsal on Fecit Potenciam, “he has shown strength with his arm.” It’s a difficult movement, but we kept at it until all parts could sing it at the same time. We actually went over time and didn’t have time for any of the anthems.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fifth Rehearsal that wasn't

It all started when our car broke down at a restaurant where we were having a pre-rehearsal treat. We had planned to go from there to the church to open things up, turn on the AC so it would be cool when the rehearsal started. Luckily the restaurant was near the church, so Ernest scaled 2 fences and went to open the church. There was a sign on the door - "Keys changed, call deacon." Turns out this was just the beginning of our problems. We called the deacon, got the answering machine.

In the meantime, we called AAA to deal with our car. Ernest was supposed to be at City Council to receive a proclamation from the City of Banning congratulating him on his honorary doctorate and recognizing his contributions to the community. I had to stay with the car while neighbor Pat took Ernest to the meeting. Meanwhile, we had to notify Chorale members not to come since we couldn't get into the church. My cell phone battery was low so I called Vice President, Steve who came down to the restaurant, got our roster and went back home to make the calls.

The AAA folks arrived and worked on the car. They couldn't solve the problem, it was after hours for the car dealer so we couldn't get help from them, so we decided to leave the car there and deal with it in the morning. When our neighbor and Ernest got back from the ceremony we went by the church to leave a sign on the door in case any chorale member showed up.

After that we could relax a bit. It was good that we can call on neighbor Pat and VP Steve to help us out of this dilemma. On to the next rehearsal. We would rather be singing Bach!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fourth Rehearsal

We started on the third choral movement, Fechit Potenciam (He has shown strength with his arm). Alto Charlene requested that we start work on this difficult movement. Not only are there lots of runs and lots of words, but the choir only sings the same words at the same time near the very end. We struggled, but we managed to get through it. It made us feel good to go back to the first movement (Magnificat – My soul magnifies the Lord) and sing it straight through. It sounded good.

We also practiced the second choral movement (Omnes generations – All Generations) and got through it with just a few stops and starts. We are definitely making progress. We went over the first Interpolation (Vom Himmel Hoch – From Heaven he came) and again practiced the German and Bach’s wonderful chorale arrangement of this hymn.

At the end of each rehearsal we practice the shorter anthems. We concentrated on Mary’s Boy Child, a spiritual arranged by Jester Hairston. It has lots of syncopated rhythms, and is lots of fun to sing. Both Ernest and I remember Jester Hairston, a wonderful musician who visited high schools all over the country. He made it to both Banning High and Glendale High where we both got to sing while he directed and introduced us to his music. It seems that he had the goal of saving and sharing this music. For both of us, the day he visited was an unforgettable experience. We never forgot his warmth and enthusiasm for music. He made us all love it too. Saving and sharing is also the goal of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, which aims to save and share the languages, music, histories and cultures of southern California Indians. For further information, check out their website.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Third Rehearsal

Tenor Charlie came back to us for our third rehearsal. During the summer people travel and some are always missing. We were all glad to have him back!

We got through all of the first movement of the Bach and it actually sounded like music! It isn’t perfect yet, but its definitely progress. We started the second choral movement and made progress on that too.

We began work on one of the Interpolations. Bach added these to the Magnificat text for performances at Christmas. The first one is based on Martin Luther hymn Von Himmel hoch (He came from Heaven). It is in German so we get to sing yet another language. The first and second sopranos sing together on this movement, the only time this happens. It also is the easiest soprano part in the entire piece. We sing the melody very slowly and the altos, tenors, and bases sing more difficult, moving parts.

Ernest announced that the Banning City Council will present him with a proclamation congratulating him on his honorary doctorate on July 14. We would have to start our rehearsal late that night since this is on a Tuesday. The Chorale immediately wanted to go and sing! This should be lots of fun.

At the end of the rehearsal we went over a beautiful carol, “How Far is it to Bethlehem” arranged by Stan Pethel. It tells the story of shepherd children who travel far to see the baby Jesus in the manger. It is so wonderful to rehearse this music. We get to actually perform it only once, but it is during the rehearsals that we get to know it well and develop a real understanding and love for it.