Musical not-really-weekend - The Lyorn's Den
Tue Jan. 6th, 2009
09:09 pm - Musical not-really-weekend
The last four days I was at a choir seminar in the insanely baroque Abbey (now a centre for all kind of music seminars) in Ochsenhausen near Tübingen.
We went there with our choir's conductor and six singers from the ensemble (usually we're ten in the ensemble and 30 in the choir, but with six we had all voices represented) and felt a little nervous because there were all kind of Big Name people (who I didn't know anyway), and we wondered if we weren't a tiny bit out of our league -- especially after we asked a guy who many of the others dreaded for being sarcastic and Very Important to listen to us singing one of his compositions and give us concrit.
I found that occasionally it's lucky that I'm shy, because I'm afraid anyway and well-practised at ignoring it, so I didn't quite share the mounting feelings of horror.
It was cold, cold, cold and getting colder all the time, then it started snowing, and the immense, badly insulated building was draughty and except for the small practise rooms always not-quite comfortable. First evening I was dressed for nice spring days, and after listening to Voices In Time in the (beautiful, baroque and draughty) concert hall, then retiring to beer and wine and more music in a stone cellar, and after that not getting hot water from the shower and having too few blankets on the bed, I felt horrible the next day and slept a lot. Other than that I went to an impro workshop, and a choir workshop where we did two pop/rock pieces in a-capella: "Save Tonight" from Eagle-eye Cherry, and Bon Jovi's "It's my life". Fortunately the soprano in both was easily within my frozen and not-quite-recovered-from-a-cold range.
In the evening there was open singing, where Jens Johansen did his arrangement of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" with all the 130 singers present. It's very easy to sing, off-the-sheet stuff with it's basic C-F-G-a-F ("the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift"), with an E thrown in for good measure, but the sound and the dynamic of the piece always knocks my socks off. (Otherwise, I prefer the version sung by Cohen to all cover versions, not least because I'll always take a bass-baritone over the higher male voices.)
I went to bed early, turned on the heating and got extra blankets, so I was OK the next day. We did more practise on "Save Tonight", and with the ensemble finished our hasty and intensive preparation for the coaching session. Which went very well, the guy was nice and helpful and we didn't make total asses out of ourselves. After that, the other two sopranos from the ensemble and I wanted to sit in on an open master class held by a very cute Swedish voice trainer with unlimited energy, only no one but us was there, so we got a private lesson in different techniques more appropriate to jazz and rock singing than our mostly classical training. Of course it's hard to take much from a one-shot like this, but at least it gave me some ideas what is out there. Also, great fun, and I got high from hyperventilating. Later I tried to get some SAT or SAB arrangements on pop, rock or folk songs from the library, but with little success -- there is not much for these voice combinations, and what there was other people had already snatched.
After dinner was a closing concert from all different project groups, which was open to the public. By then I was a little fed up with all this incredibly well-performed choir music and would have given a lot for a nice singalong with some guitars and a hand drum. I let myself talked into going to that party cellar again, where I drank water because I was out of small change for the vending machines, and disliked, as expected, the noise and the physical closeness, but there was more singing and another impro session, so it was fun, too.
All in all, I could have done with more singing -- I didn't take the class in voice percussion, because I know I'm very bad at it, and had time to kill which I would rather have spent making music -- and less cold, but all in all, despite all the whining I do above, it was great fun.
I even got a certificate that I could use on my tax return if I were a music teacher or something like that.
And I will never leave my winter shoes at home for a January event just because it's indoors and I have to bring "nice" clothes.
In completely different news, the LJ PTB are causing widespread panic again. If anything should happen, you'll find me on insanejournal with the same username: here.