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?