Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Katie, Francesca, and St. Cecelia

School approaches!

I'm not ready yet, are you?

I've heard from two choir members today:

1. Katie Movelle: Sent me a St. Cecelia card with the note that if we prayed hard to her we would not have another mistake like we had at Christmas at the Alys.

I'm not opposed to any help from the patron saint of music, of course. However, I'm thinking we just need to practice getting our pitch more and never try to sing more than 100 yards away from the conductor again.

2. Francesca. I got a disappointing notification from Francesca that she won't be joining us next semester. I hate that, she's been an incredible choir member for alot of reasons. Besides her musical contribution, Francesca gave us her humor and her 5-point stance.

We will miss her.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

First mention on another blog!

I've been on a search for other choir related blogs and found very few. One that I found, is the Fredosphere, managed by composer-musicians Fred Himebaugh. I emailed Fred and asked some blog-related questions.

Besides giving me excellent answers, Fred was kind enough to mention this UAB Choir blog in a posting on December 28. How nice of him!

He told me about two other choir related blogs, the first of which i had not heard of.

It looks as though we have one of the few choir-blogs out there, but I'm still hoping to find a few more:
VHK's Singing
Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director

Some more of his thoughts:
The most fundamental reason I blog is to promote my compositions, so my blog is a composer's blog as well as a choir director/church musician's blog. When I got started, I hoped to be connected to a network of choir bloggers. Like you, I was surprised to find nothing like that exists. Now, my goal is to be connected to the wider arts blogosphere (what Alex Ross -- with an assist from me -- calls the bløgösphère). I decided to write about a wide range of interests, like sci-fi, weird religious art, zeppelins, and anti-popes. Partly, that's just my personality, and partly it's a marketing strategy, based on the idea that a pure choir blog isn't going to get much traffic (at least one written by me).
I really appreciate his comments and look forward to any other insight he has on this medium. It is possible that we (uab choirs) have one of the first blogs of this typein an emerging medium. It is also possible that the blog world is just a flash in the pan. I have a feeling that it is going to be more significant than that, however.

At any rate, I enjoy this experience of keeping in touch with my choir via the blog.

Does anyone read it? I used to think so, but not according to a recent lack of comments!

Nevertheless, I persevere!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Pocket Blogging

this is a test from my new program ''Pocket Blog."

Im trying to see it I can create posts on the internet by first Creating them in my pocket PC. Will update on the success.,. or not.


Worked very well. Post appeared immediately.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas with Choirs

One of the best things about Christmas time is the great choir programs on television.

(Hey, this IS a choir blog, you know . . . )

I'm about to watch "Christmas at Baylor," a program I recorded last night (I think) on my Digital Video Recorder. The DVR is really cool . . . we've used it alot more than we thought we would. Most of our "recorded TV" programs are things like Seseme Street (for obvious reasons), Nigella Bites (one of Leigh's favorites), and Seinfeld.

Anyway, if you get a chance, these are the Christmas choir programs I've noticed and/or recorded:

Christmas at Baylor
A Belmont Christmas
Christmas with the Mormon Tabarnacle Choir
Christmas with Chanticleer
St. Olaf Christmas Festival
Sing We Now of Christmas: A Festival of Carols
Carols from King's

They are all very good. I caught some of the King's College special last night on the Jordan's HDTV and it was fantastic. HDTV is something I've never really experienced before and I loved it. When the price of this technology drops more I definitely want to invest. The picture was just incredible.

My favorite of the programs is probably the Chanticleer one . . I've not seen all of them yet. I saw the Chanticleer one live either last year or the year before. Some great music there and those guys are top notch performers.

Merry Christmas, choir. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What a life

You've got to hand it to Francesca. Her posts are bizarre and hilarious. The most recent beginning:

"I slept on my left side last night just to change things up."

For more fascinating insights, go here.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Triplet pictures

I don't know if you guys are ever interested in viewing pictures of my girls, but here are some recent ones on my "family blog."

Leigh and I were wondering if any of you could come up with a creative name for a blog that centers around the triplets.

Something a little cute and referencing our 3 angels.

One thought:

"Heaven on Earth" (and it is, most of the time)
Three's Company?
"Trouble comes in three's?"

You get the idea. Any takers?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

You never know . . .

I found this picture today of my former choir-mate, Shepherd Smith. You might know Shep and you might not--but he is now one of the anchors for Fox News, and hosts a show called the FOX Report w/Shepherd Smith.

When this picture was taken, Shepherd was running late for the return bus trip back to Oxford.

I'm always a bit amazed that I know a guy that is seen by millions of people every night. He was a great guy and a fine bass. He used to be the "holder of the pitch pipe" and always did a good job.

You never know what the person sitting next to you in choir might become.

Knowing what I do about the incredible people we have in choir---I expect tremendous things.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Blog Benefits Choir?

Ok, group. I need input.

I'm preparing a presentation entitled "Simplifying the Conductor's Lifestyle: Making Technology Work for You" to give at the National ACDA Convention and I'm going to spend a portion of the presentation on this blog. I want you to help me brainstorm it's benefits to us this semester. I'll start and you add your own.

1. Gives conductor a way to give feedback to the choir and elicit responses from its members. I thought that concert and performance reviews were important to us this semester. Whether it was congratulating ourselves on a job well done or a way of finding out what went wrong.

2. Builds community--I've gotten to know several of you much better by reading your comments and visiting your own personal blogs. I think that most of you started your own blog after reading this one, except for Francesca, who will soon be writing or doing radio for a living.

3. Rehash rehearsals and frame them in a proper context. Examining what went right or what went wrong in the rehearsal after one has had time to reflect.

4. Communicating praise from others: sharing emails with the choir and others in a public forum.

5. Informational: posting links to possible dress options for the girls, explaining where to get passports, directions to performances.

6. Sometimes, just to share. Some posts have nothing to do with choir. Posts about things to visit in Birmingham, radio shows, funny stories or pictures.

7. Motivational: my efforts to get you excited about long term goals, i.e. France Competition.

8. Gives choir members a meaningful way to interact with the conductor outside of class and away from the bustle of the rehearsal.

9. Online journaling provides a way to document and reference past thoughts and feelings--aspects of the year that will pass from memory without it.

10. Keep in touch with past members. Nick reads this often!

Found this paragraph online:
The range of uses for Weblogs among other educators is wide. Hundreds of librarians have realized their power in communicating information about resources and in starting conversations about books and literacy. Students use Weblogs as digital portfolios or just digital filing cabinets, where they store their work. Teachers use blogs as classroom portals, where they archive handouts, post homework assignments, and field questions virtually. Clubs and activities, sports teams, and parent groups use Weblogs to post scores, meeting minutes, and links to relevant issues and topics. In other words, a Weblog is a dynamic, flexible tool that's easy to use whether you're creating with it or simply viewing the result.

Ok . . . that is a good start.

Can you help?

A Marvelous Madrigal Dinner

It must have been spectacular!
I'm hearing rave reviews from both students and faculty. Congratulations to Chamber Singers and Dr. Jeff Reynolds for bringing honor and glory to the music department and her choirs! Thanks to them for working a bit harder than the rest of us . . . rehearsing during exams, through sickness and other end-of-the-semester ills to put on a fantastic show. We are all very proud of you!

Advice for Students in my Next Class


Can you tell that I'm enjoying inserting images in my blog?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ham Day

By the way, this is my third post in the same day. See below for new entries . . .

Ahh . . . the competition


The stage has now been set for our May 2005 competition. We have received our official acceptance into the Florilege Vocal de Tours competition and have been approved to compete in categories I and IV.

It is impressive enough to just be accepted into the competition--the festival is known all over the world. Take note of its mention in these worldwide links:

Taipei: an article that talks about the Batavia Madrigal Singers from Indonesia which won three awards.

Turkey: trumpets the achievements of the Bilkent Youth Choir, which received runner-up position at the 33rd Florilege Vocal de Tours, "one of the most important choir competitions in the world" hosted between May 28-31 in Tours, France, out of 20 choirs from 18 countries.

Germany: discusses their performance and award from their 1995 appearance at the competition.

USA: The USC Chamber Choir won the grand prize in 2002. Their website entry describes the competition as a
a "prestigious international choral competition. " The group is conducted by William Dehning, a very well known choral conductor in the USA. He lists his groups grand prize victory as one of his major achievements in his biography, which can be seen here.

Sometimes choirs just mention the fact that they competed at the competition (without winning), such as the Concert Choir from Mansfield University.

By the way, do you like their picture? Here is a larger version from their site: interesting choir picture Perhaps we can find a way to do something like that with our group if you like it.

My point in all this:

To achieve things in life, you have to place yourself in the right place at the right time.

Without risk, there is no reward.

We are stepping out into the international choral scene in May. Get ready to put forward your best effort--of your life.

Christmas for Musicians

At my house, we listen to music whenever we are doing something with the girls, especially at feeding time. My father-only feeding time is the morning meal, commonly known as breakfast. (At this point, I feel as though I am slipping into Franceska-type blog language . . . but I digress).

Anyway, we are listening to some FM station that plays Christmas music all the time. Today they had a testimonial type segment that featured some woman talking about how she looks forward to the holiday times "when things slow down . . . . "

I guess that is true for most people, but the statement was a bit shocking for me. Nearly all of my time is spent with musicians and we think of December as a time of immense stress because of the increased performing opportunities/obbligations. When that is coupled with exams and additional church services, life does indeed seem difficult.

After each performance, I typically have these thoughts:
1. whew, I'm glad that is over.
2. wow, my office is a mess.

and then this one:
Is this what life is like for all those people without music as a driving force in their lives?

I've got to admit, life without concerts and continuous performing pressure is sometimes appealing, like a cold and delicious diet mountain dew on a very hot day.

But after awhile, it just looks boring.

Viva la musica!

Update: Christmas for Musicians, part 2

I told you it was stressful.

Conductor kills self inside Crystal Cathedral

Pray for God's blessings to this man's family and friends during this time of sadness.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A Glorious Gloria and A Couple of Bad Starts

It was a great concert.

Even though we didn't sing to our potential with our three solo works. My quick review:

Sing We Now: Rehearsed the least, came off the best.
Ave Maria: Bad start, but the work never really came together in rehearsal either. It had moments of beauty at times but I don't think we arrived at the place we needed to be with it.
Have Yourself: Another bad start--similar thoughts about not finding the piece in rehearsal before performing it.

Lessons from the concert:
1. Passing the Pitch is a crucial part of our preparation. We will take more time from this point forward.
2. The work we put into the Gloria paid off in huge dividends. There were outstanding moments and the REX was magical and fulfilling.
3. I wasn't too surprised at our performance--the time we put into the Gloria and when we rehearsed it each day ate into our energy and normal preparation. We've had an extremely active semester that has included more singing than I've done since arriving at UAB. Overall the semester has been a huge success.

We will recover from a not-our-best performance on Saturday.
  • We will remember that we must prepare for every success and experience it first in the rehearsal before we can expect it in performance.
  • We will remember that the things that prohibited us from arriving at 1:00 ready to sing also contributed to our effort during the concert.
  • We will remember that great performances aren't a given, even from talented and hard-working students.
A few other thoughts:

1. Mortimer Jordan was simply outstanding, especially on the Whitacre. They proved that execution and confidence and risk and talent can result in something quite remarkable. The students from there were just incredible . . . but remember, the credit goes to their teacher for the superb preparation. And not just for that performance, but for the last six years. All of the UAB students that are MJ graduates are rightly proud of their school.

2. All of the high schools did an incredible job. Amanda Klimko's Hewitt-Trussville choir and Ken Berg's JCCHS Honors Chorus along with the previously mentioned MJ gave us an extremely strong showing for UAB's Christmas at the Alys. I was proud of every choir's contribution and glad that I had invited these groups.

I'm sure I'll blog more later . . . but that is the quick review. Any comments from others?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Who else?

I thought I might round up a few other hidden choir bloggers out there.

It seems that Delia has one here. And with pictures! BTW, Delia, I love black licorice. Or I used to before lowcarb days.

And Charles, well, it seems he had an idea for one with a catchy title: Meditations on a Young Man's Life. But when I clicked the link . . . nothing. Or maybe the meditations are just very private.

I've heard that Erin has one but I've not seen it. Any others?

Update: "Blog" is the number one word of the year. And we were there.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Tis the semester . . . . to blog . . .

My good friends from the next state over (the ones who voted for Kerry) tell me that they check out my blog from time to time, so I guess it is time to reveal the UAB choir member blogs I follow on a more-frequently-than I admit it basis:

Francesca: Always hilarious, sometimes revealing. F.R. wins the award for most frequent poster, at least from the ones i follow. I am beginning to believe that F.R. has a future in humorous writing if she chooses to follow the path . . . perhaps directing her own movie about her takes on life. I'd pay to see it. I even checked out her sister's blog.

I read more J.S. words than i ever hear her say. She is a close second in posting frequency. November 22 frightened me.

Clay: Also fairly frequent poster. I seem to know alot about some girl named Stephanie that I've never met. I sometimes wonder if Clay will have to delete this blog if he and Stephanie ever break up. To read his words, this one is forever. My advice: make few life entrenching decisions or committments before age 25. Or 30.

Katie: Has blog, does not post much. It looks like she does it about every 21 days, so I'm expecting another on or around December 15. Katie graces us more with her comments to blogville than with actual posts. Thanks, Katie.

Chris: Another one that I learn more about from what he writes than what I hear him speak.

Zach: Has sermon, will preach. Amen.

Sarah: Infrequent poster, always something interesting to say. I'm still trying to draw connections between the AndyGriffith-hardcorechristian-SituationalEthics-MillerHighLife-BoiledCookies post.

Nick: Well . . . he isn't a student here anymore but it seems Nick is still here.

That's all the choir blogs that I know about. Can anyone supply me with others that I'm missing?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Late Nite Trials, Tribulations, and Resolutions

Here is a new abbreviation for you: CIO.

It stands for Crying It Out and it is a strategy(??) parents use to teach their children how to sleep through the night. After making sure that the children aren't in any particular pain or terror, the parents let the children cry until they become exhausted and fall asleep.

It isn't fun. For Parents of Multiples, it is a bit more difficult for obvious reasons . . . the child who can't sleep and must CIO wakes up the child who can sleep and it snowballs into multiple CIO experiences. Claire and Caroline are both quite skilled at CIO while Catherine somehow finds it within herself to sleep through it all. I can't decide whether I am more impressed with Claire, who can scream very loudly without growing weary of the exercise or with Catherine, who is oblivious to it all.

Leigh and I do our best to get through the night. To comfort myself, I read a little about the CIO method and found this article. The main point: A mental health expert warns that fashionable advice to ignore your child's tears may cause lifelong harm.


On to the triplet website, where I found our precise situation duplicated here. At least I found a bit of comfort there, in spite of what the study with brain scans tells me about the damage I'm doing to my daughters.

So what does this have to do with choir?

Good question . . . the thing is, even after the girls went to sleep I was still awake running over the today's rehearsal in my head. What started so well had a few tense momentsm (well, one) that i had trouble figuring out .

There is a danger in the "open exchange" rehearsal style that I use and we/I found it today. It isn't worth dwelling on or rehashing and it really wasn't that big of a deal in the end. I spoke with the people I needed to speak and we arrived at a mutual understanding of the factors that played into the moment.

The bottom line: Choir rehearsals are collaborative works where humans exhibit natural emotions and frustrations in the process of making something worthwhile (creating art). The proper response from any momentary frustration or conflict is to gain wisdom and knowledge from the experience and to move forward with grace, knowledge, and a redefined purpose.

And, now, a poetic link: we are the music makers of the world.

Monday, November 08, 2004

How and Where to Get a US Passport

Choir--the ones going to France this summer (and it isn't too late for the rest of you!),

WHO: those going to France.

WHAT: a passport-necessary travel document to leave our blessed USA. This link takes you to a website that gives an overview about how to get a US Passport and this site directs you to places that really spell it all out.

WHEN: although we don't leave until May 18, we need to get things together now. A passportis absolutely necessary to go to France!

WHERE: By clicking here, you can find a passport acceptance facility. It isn't hard, but you need to act soon!

Dr. McCoy speaks about us to others

One of my former students is doing his doctoral work with Dr. McCoy.

I got this email from him today:

Dr. Copeland,

Hey there, just had a meeting with Dr. McCoy and he mentioned that heard a number of groups from Al. this weekend - he said with great enthusiasm that your group was by far the best, and he was very impressed with your work. I am not sure if he mentioned this to you - but I thought that I would pass that along. It's good to know!

It'd be great to see you in L.A. and catch up.

Congratulations and continued success to you,


Isn't that nice to hear?

Email from Dr. McCoy

I thought you'd be interested to see this excerpt about you in an email to me from Dr. McCoy:

Your choir sings with beauty of tone, richness of color, rhythmic clarity and an understanding of the issues of communcation. I was very taken with them! You are doing dynamite work with the choir.

I hope to see you in LA.

Jerry McCoy

Dr. Jerry McCoy
Director of Choral Studies
College of Music
University of North Texas

Saturday, November 06, 2004

links to pictures!

pics of you for you: (links to my uab website)

Large 1.8 meg
Fairly large

did anyone get pictures from our last concert?

College Choir Festival


Here are some observations, insights and other pieces of information about our performance yesterday in no particular order.

Overall: I thought we did a great job on all three pieces yesterday.
Breaking it down: Alleluia.
Somehow, we went higher (sharp) on Alleluia right at the very beginning. Erin says she gave the right pitch and I believe her. Perhaps it was just a perception problem on my part, but i thought we were a half step sharp all the way through. At first i was petrified--but then i realized you were singing it perfectly even though it was higher than usual. Bottom line: you compensated like a champion.

Breaking it down: Salmo.
FABULOUS. Our most difficult piece performed extremely well. You followed me in every way and i thought we made some great music. I think this is the work we are performing the best right now.

Breaking it down: Whole World.
Great job. Great pitch, great energy. We might be a little fast on part of it according to a couple of comments i received, but that is more my problem than yours. We'll evaluate and figure it out later.

Comments from Dr. Jerry McCoy. In case you couldn't tell, Dr. McCoy was incredibly impressed with what you were doing and who you were. He frequently commented on the high difficulty level of the music we were singing--i sent him a copy of Salmo yesterday evening at his request. His remarks to us were different from the remarks he gave most other choirs, in my opinion. We'll dissect those in our next rehearsal and decide their validity to what we do next.

Right after our performance, he asked me if i had ever submitted anything to the Regional ACDA conventions and wondered if i was interested in performing at a convention. And the truth is, it is my major goal this year and next--we will submit a recording and application in April and hope for an inviation to the Southern Regional Convention for 2006. His question really made my day--i think it was validation that we are performing at a very high level.

He also told me that i was a lucky young man to have a choir like you at an age like mine. As I've told you many times, I'm reminded of my good fortune daily . . . and I'm humbled to get to work with a students like you.

Other comments:
Several people gave great compliments. Paul McGahie, who was complimentary of our performance last year, told me that we sounded like a "professional choir." I really appreciate that--we college choir directors are a pretty competitive bunch and i really appreciate that accolade. Several students from other schools spoke to me with words like "awesome" and other high-praise words of your generation.

I look forward to hearing the comments that you received from others and what you thought about the performance. Please post . . . and tell your choir friends to post!

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Magical Day

Wow. What a tremendous rehearsal yesterday (last Wednesday). Im not exactly sure why everything worked the way that it did, but the end result was fantastic.

Here is what I remember:

What I did: I spent several hours the previous day listening to our recording. I knew exactly where the trouble spots were and I typed my notes out to you so that you could make comments in your music and know precisely what I wanted to fix.

What you did:

1. People listened!
On Salmo, the blend was superb as people listened more dosely than ever before to exact pitch. We finally personified the definition of blend: exact same note, exact same pitch and exact same volume.

2. The McNeil effect:
We witnessed a spectacular transformation in Jonathan McNeil's tone and Volume yesterday. I've heard Jonathan sing like thct before in opera. Yesterday, he gave us the benefit of that training and expertise.

And then- all the men modeled his sound and the overall tonewas just incredible. And it just got better- the rest of the choir picked up the idea and 47 people made enough small adjustments to what they were already doing that a radical new creation emerged from what was already quite good.

And it all went back to one person- Jonathan Mc Neil. Yesterday, he gave a little more effort/volume than usual and the Choir was transformed.

Will you be that person in our next rehearsal?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Zach and the Wise Man

Remember that brief discussion about the wise man loving reproof . . . or reproach? Well, I've not been able to determine whether Zach was right with his "reproach" comment or me with my "reproof" thought . . . but here is a link that discusses the essence of proverbs, the wise man, and one who appreciates instruction and correction.

I've not been able to find what i thought i was quoting . . . so i must have made it all up in some sort of mind jumble. I think I had the essence of the truth correct: the wise person loves to be corrected because it increases their knowledge.

So . . . take that thought with you today and I'll give you more choir corrections tomorrow.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Random Thoughts

Great rehearsal last week, choirs, and I'm looking forward to Sunday at Mountain Brook Baptist Church. Remember, practice driving there--those roads in MB are quirky.

Radio show free download. Would you like to listen/download the wierd show I listen to at night? They are having a free MP3 download event this weekend. Topics include: 9-11 Enigmas, UFOs, Aliens & Underground Bases; Near Death Accounts; End Times Visions; and Investigating Skull & Bones.

Fall Concert: Since we are only doing one long set, I'm going to eliminate "I Have Had Singing" from the concert, even though we have it memorized. I'll give you a copy of the program next week. Chamber Singers will begin, followed by Women's Chorale, followed by Concert Choir.

Family Success: My sister-in-law just called and they are tailgating next to the Manning's at Ole Miss this weekend. She says they are all there--Archie, Peyton, Eli and the rest. Amy (Leigh's sister) has had a great week. She found out yesterday that she won a 2005 GMC Envoy. She's a drug rep for Abbott Laboratories and this was a national promotional for the person that sells the most drugs . . . we're very proud of her. Congratulations, Amy!

OK, that's it. It seems my blog to the choir occasionally explores family and other completely unrelated matters. I guess it is because you are an important group of people to me. Blessings to all!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Proud Father and More

All of you know about my girls, Catherine, Caroline, and Claire.

I just posted a recent picture of them on my website in case you'd like to see it. I'm incredibly proud of these girls. Tonight's victory was that we all climbed down the steps without falling.

Claire, technically the youngest and definitely the fattest, is the best climber. She's the one in the lower part of the picture. Catherine is her identical twin sister and she is doing OK with descending the stairs. Caroline was the slowest in getting down the stairs by herself. She was doing OK a couple of weeks ago in the descending mode before a nasty collision with Catherine who was on her way "up" the stairs.

Did you know that we multiple parents have online support groups? On this website, you can find fascinating discussions about White Cloud (walmart brand) diapers, new triplet moms, and even discussions about avoiding perverts who seek pictures of women with large pregnant bellies.

I think the neatest thing that i have seen in the past several days is this picture of the Hayes sextuplets. The six children - three boys and three girls - weighed a total of 24 pounds and 14 ounces, a world record for the heaviest set of sextuplets. All i can say is: wow.

And you thought this blog was just about choir?

Tag Change

Following up on Charles' suggestion, the tag line to our "blog" now reads:

"the best singers performing the greatest music of all time"

It used to be:

"the best singers in Alabama performing the greatest music of all time"

Charles' first suggestion was:

"the best singer of all time (charles henry) and the best singers in Alabama performing the greatest music of all time"

Thanks, Charles, for letting me slightly modify your first suggestion.

of course, that last part was a joke . . .

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Pictures, Promotions, Posters and a Press Release

To those who might be interested, we've got a press release out on the UAB webpage for our concert on October 24. It's got one picture from one of our performances in the Alys Stephens Center and two from the brief concert we did for the UAB Alumni. Pretty cool, huh?

I especially like this picture. I think I will print it somewhere and use it for other promotional purposes this year.

It is time to start TALKING UP our concert on Sunday, October 24. On Tuesday, I will have posters ready for you to distribute across town. I'd like you to put them in your dorms, churches, high schools, etc. I would love 1500 people to attend our concert on Sunday. Is it possible? I don't know . . . it's up to us to get the word out!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Trips, Choir, and Friendships


First, thanks for a great three rehearsals last week. We are doing well and progressing towards our goal.

As most of you know, Leigh and I went on a weekend trip to Louisville with our friends Joey and Jennifer. Louisville is a great place to visit and an even better place to live. Here are a couple of highlights:
Anyway, my point in telling you about the trip is this:

Joey and Jennifer and Leigh and myself were all once members of the choir at Ole Miss. Joey and I were in the choir together for only one semester. We became friends in Louisville and had the common Ole Miss choir bond between us all.

College choir can be a very special part of your life, if you haven't figured that out yet. You will definitely meet many great people in your college choir--especially our college choir. If you stay in it long enough, you may get a chance to visit some of the most famous cities of the world and sing in the world's greatest cathedrals. You might even meet the person you will marry and have children with in choir. I did . . . and so did Joey and Jennifer. So watch out--it can happen.

Anyway, the Wilkinson's had great things to say about you in the rehearsal they observed on Thursday. Thanks for your great attention and great singing.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Not THAT Advanced in Age . . .

A senior citizen?

I felt the need to blog my response to that one . . as i look at my computer clock right now, i note that it is 11:43 p.m.

And I'm still awake. I've been reading news stories like this one, like this one, and even like this one.

There is some choir news, if any of you are reading this before our performance tomorrow. The administrative superpowers have allowed us one other song besides the Alma Mater tomorrow, so we are doing "See What the End Is Going to Be." Now . . . that could be the new title for the Karai "Alleluia," (after our first performance of the piece) but i'm talking about the spiritual by
Ron Staheli.

As long as i'm responding to previous comments, i'd like to thank Keith Kendrick about the "to whom much is given" compliment. I've found a couple of interesting websites on the phrase, this one discussing the bible version and this one from the speech by J.F. Kennedy.

Wow . . . now it is after midnight and my radio show is about to come on. It seems that tonight they are talking about some guy named Jonathan Goldman (his website: healingsounds), an authority on sound healing, will explain how certain sounds influence physical, mental and spiritual dimensions.

I don't really get into the healing mumbo jumbo aspect of the show. I like the quasi-science things like this and UFO things. Listen to the radio show sometime . . . occasionally crazy and occasionally thought-provoking. Have i identified myself as a nut yet?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Great Beginnings

"That was one great example of the many great things you will find here at UAB." That's what our university president, Carol Garrison, said about our choir. (at least, that is pretty close to what i heard her say--my memory isn't what it could be)

Do you catch the significance in that? Before this morning, I had never met our president and she had never heard the UAB Concert Choir. In a short 10-minute, 3-song span of time, we "became" one of the great things about UAB in the eyes of the administration.

Now, the people involved in and around our music department already knew that good things were happening in all of our areas. We've known it for some time! Today was an important step in making it real to many other people.

Now . . . a short review from your director about Saturday:

1. Overall . . . fantastic energy, diction and tone. Faces were OK not great . . . we will be working on that for the entire year. Our faces will get better every day (or else I might pull a Menterro on one of you).
2. Pitch fell early in "Praise to the Lord." Leigh (my beautiful wife and outstanding musician-singer) thinks that the women sag a bit in their descending lines of the opening verse. I thought that it happened when sopranos ascend to the word "creation." Both may be correct.
3. Nuance on "Nobody Knows" excellent. You followed me very well and i felt complete freedom to hold, crescendo, emphasize, de-emphasize . . . basically, to do what i wanted to do. Memorizing music gives the conductor that freedom.
4. See What the End is Going to Be . . a very good ending work. Great job. It will get better as we go along. There is a way to make the last page even more exciting and we'll get to that very soon.

The best thing: our performance was musical, exciting, and procured a good image for us.

The worst thing: FAR TOO MANY STUDENTS WERE LATE FOR THE 9:00 REHEARSAL. Believe this: I will not tolerate people being late. It is not who we are and not who we want to be.

And finally . . . the most important thing . . . Remember that we are on the first steps of a long journey. Our next steps will tell us where that journey will end.

Wasn't that poetic? See you Tuesday.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Friday Concert Thoughts . . .

I thought our concert today was excellent and you are to be commended for a tremendous effort. Alabama's teachers were incredibly complimentary of you and it is significant that they rewarded you with a standing ovation. Unless I am mistaken, it was the "immediate" kind of standing ovation and not the kind where people half-heartedly stand to their feet because someone else did.

A few thoughts:

Alleluja: obviously, something happened at the end that noone expected. It's not happened before and we'll fix it before tomorrow!

Ave maris stella: beautiful and haunting. One teacher described it as "angelic" and I agreed.

Praise to the Lord: great. dynamics excellent. diction outstanding.

Nobody Knows: Megan Wicks (Vestavia HS) noted that you had emotion/soul on that one. I thought so too. Nearly everyone commented on Lindsey's beautiful voice. Remind me that we need to be softer on the end of her solo.

See What the End is Going to Be: Everyone loved this one and most thought it was our strongest piece. I thought that we had great dynamics on this one and good diction.

THE GOOD NEWS: Everything gets better after the first concert.
THE BAD NEWS: There is no bad news. So, that's good news, right?

Two more dress pictures

Here are two more dress possibilities.

Possible Dress Picture #1 and Possible Dress Picture #2


Thursday, September 09, 2004

I meant what i said . .

We are much further along than we were at this time last year and we are well on course to accomplish great things. Congratulations on your work so far!

I spoke with Dr. Reynolds today about new dresses for women and we will be moving that direction very soon. The plan is for UAB to get out of the dress business and have the women purchase their own outfit and sell it (eventually). The great part about that is that we get to wear something new, different and (hopefully) better. The thing we need to remember is that the dresses must look good on all body types--not just the models wearing the dresses. I'm sure we'll be looking here for dresses:
and some girls have already indicated an interest in dresses like this one:

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Time Change, Europe, and Good2Great


Good rehearsal yesterday.

Special thanks to Erin, Delia, and Sarah for helping with the outfits.

Some information for you:

Time change: The performance on Saturday, September 11 will begin at 10:00 a.m. and not 9:00 a.m. as previously scheduled. Let's plan on gathering at 9:00 on Saturday morning in the choir room.

Europe trip: I hope to have brochures and information about our planned trip to France next Tuesday, September 14. Get ready!

Remember these determining factors concerning whether we will be an average choir, a very good choir, or a great choir:

1. are you watching me? Scively?
2. are you listening to the instructions/changes/interpretation that i give you in rehearsal and CHANGING WHAT YOU ARE DOING? Sopranos, remember the feeling of meter in Karai Alleluia! It isn't a good use of time if we stop to change something, work it out and practice it, and then the change isn't instituted in the next run through!
3. Look at your music outside of class!

That's it . . . see you in class.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

UAB choirs

I hope I remember to mention this to you on Tuesday. If you haven't seen the Birmingham Botanical Gardens yet, you need to.

Here is their website:

Take time to visit the place. It is beautiful and relaxing and highly recommended.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Greetings, choir (or whoever reads this)

And welcome to my first attempt at "blogging."

I've got several goals for this blog . . . .
  1. My primary intent is to thoroughly reference some of the things that I talk about in rehearsal. I don't like to take alot of our precious rehearsal time to chase rabbits and tell stories even though a certain amount of that is important.
  2. With the "comments" section, you can talk back to me (and discuss with others, of course) about the subjects I bring up.
  3. I hope to use the vast online resources as well as my own webpage to help all of us learn more and reference information to make our music more meaningful to us.
So . . enjoy . . . and give me comments if you wish!