Monday, January 31, 2005
Awesome to have Eric Whitacre visit our blog, isn't it? Again, thanks to Delia for stepping out and inviting him to read our thoughts about his piece.
NOW . . . .
This week another important person will visit you, and this time in the rehearsal hall. I have no doubt that you will be on your best behavior and that you will learn much. I regret that I will not be with you to learn from Dr. Jordan. I look forward to hear what he concentrated on during his time with you . . . it will make us all better musicians.
I have always believed that it is the person in front of the choir that makes the greatest difference in a choir's accomplishment, sound, and musicality. Dr. J is the one that taught me this . . . I think you will see what I mean.
So, I'm off to LA early in the morning. I'll be presenting a session entitled "Simplifying the Conductor's Lifestyle: Making Technology Work for You."
You can read or see the presentation here. I've also got a links page to information I reference in the presentation. Enjoy!
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Updated: It's true, composer Eric Whitacre has responded to one of our posts (see lux below).
From Mr. Whitacre:
Hey gang,Major KUDOS to Delia.
First off, let me begin by saying that you are by far the hippest choir I've ever seen. The blog is genius, and to read the way that all of you have connected through it is inspiring and heartwarming.
Delia wrote to me to let me know that you were performing my "Lux", and I just wanted to drop a note aand tell you all thank you. Thank you for bringing such obvious passion and artistry to the music, and thank you for giving so bravely of your souls.
She had asked me to talk about why I had written the piece, and I'm afraid that I don't have an answer. Everytime I try and put my process into words, it breaks down and becomes something else. All I can tell you is that the music SOUNDS to me exactly the way I FEEL.
Warm regards to all of you, and again, many thanks for singing Lux. And if the Carnegie thing doesn't work out(bravo, Maestro!), I'd like to personally invite you all to come and sing some of my music and the Mozart Requiem with me at my festival in China in summer 2006. You are EXACTLY the sort of souls with whom I would love to make music.
Cheers, and word up,
and . . . uh . . . word up. (translation needed for the approaching age 40 conductor)
Delia's email that prompted the Whitacre visit:
Dear Mr. Whitacre,
My name is Delia Charest and I am a senior at the
Universityof Alabamaat . Our choir at UAB loves you and your amazing music. Last year we performed “Water Night” and this semester we are working on “Lux Aurumque.” We will be performing and competing with this awing song this May at the Florilège Vocal de Tours, in Birmingham . Our choir is a very close group who share what they feel about the music; one of the ways we do this is through our Blog. The last post that our director Dr. Philip Copeland made contained a lot of these feelings, especially about “Lux Aurumque”. I invite you to read these interpretations, and to feel comfortable to respond with your ideas at the time you were writing “Lux Aurumque.” I know that the choir and I would be extremely interested in knowing what such an amazing composer’s thoughts are on his wonderful piece of music. Thank you for everything that you to contribute to our wonderful world of music, I know that the uab concert choir will continue to perform your music for as long as you graciously give it to the world. Tours, France
With deep respect,
Delia M Charest
Saturday, January 29, 2005
It was an interesting experience and I understand what he was trying to do for us. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the right image can communicate much to a group trying to create a common interpretation for a piece of music.
I believe he would be very impressed with the students in our choir who have blogged out their impressions of Whitacre's Lux Aurumque. (the picture is Mr. Whitacre)
We have some very impressive young men and women in our choir:
1. Charles has given us:
As we sang this song, I started to form a mental image, as happens with me during most of our songs that we work on. However, none have ever been this vivid that I recall. The piercing high notes, heavy, thick, full chords and the beautiful Latin language all intertwined to present to me a perfect scene: Heaven at Night. I know we all think of Heaven probably as a beautiful sunlit place with shimmering floors and towering ivory ceilings, but what about when it's nighttime? Many people think night is even more beautiful than day here on Earth, so wouldn't you imagine that night in Heaven would be that much better? Can't you see and feel the warm darkness enveloping you in safety and sleep when you listen to that song? This song describes this scene so well to me, that it makes me think, if I could spend one night in heaven, it would be worth a thousand lifetimes. Even myself, who is sometimes afraid of the quiet darkness, when I listen to this song, it makes me feel as though everyone is either sitting reflectively or lying in their beds, and God and his angels are walking around, checking with everyone, just peeking in. It's everyone's alone time of reflection in heaven at this time of night, and the angels are singing their lullabies. Believe it or not, I got this image of this song, and felt and sensed all of these things, before I even read the translation of the words, something to the effect of, "Light, pure and heavy as pure gold, and the angels sing to the newborn baby," that's all I can remember of it. But maybe it could give you something to think about when we work on this piece next time. Until next time, just think, it's nighttime in heaven sometime.2. Sarah has given us:
A single, pulsating ray of light descends3. Clay has given us:
growing slowly, steadily brighter.
at the apex of the beam the angel host appear
the light is so bright,
the shepherds avert their eyes
the host encompass the sky from horizon to horizon
and the rapturous light imbues the earth
Suddenly the angel song hushes, so soft it is barely audible,
in reverent awe of its Lord.
So this is a Christmas song that is describing what the angels were doing when Christ was born. The image I get is, in part, the same image I got when I sang a different song by Whitacre named "Water Night". The text for "Water Night" is from the spanish poet Octavio Paz and depicts both darkness and depth. Lux makes me think of the same setting as I did in water night. Darkness. Deepness. Quiet. There is one difference. A single angel amidst all the darkness singing his song to the newborn Christ. This song, Lux, is this angels song. One angels song. If one angel can sing this beautifully by himself, think of how much greater it is going to be when we are all singing praises together in heaven! The light, pure, warm and heavy as gold, is the angel. I see the light from the angel piercing the darkness and warming the newborn babe. Reassuring Him that everything is going to be ok. I think Christ would need this reassurance. After all, He came into this world in a manger and left the world nailed to a cross.4. Erin has given us:
the greatest song in the world right now has got to be Lux Arumque by Eric Whitacre. When we sang it today, wow, I got chills. I picture a scene sortof like A Midsummer Night's Dream. There's a full moon; pure moonlight shining down into a forrest with a waterfall and the sound of crickets chirping. Then, out of the darkness of the trees comes one tiny gold light, floating, like a tiny angel. Man, I wish I could describe it better. It's so vivid in my mind. And that's just on the first page or two. I haven't figured out my picture for the rest of the piece but, I think I have a good start. I can't wait to sing it again tomorrow!Fantastic and moving images, choir. Dr. Dickson would be proud.
Friday, January 28, 2005
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- Philip Copeland
- Leigh Copeland
- Dale Reynolds
- John Ray
- Kat Ray
- John Williams
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Work to be performed: Solemn Vespers (Mozart)
Date of Performance: Tuesday, May 9
Residency: May 6 - May 10
And . . . it isn't just college choirs: Church Choirs, High School, College, Community will be invited. If you have ideas, continue to turn them in.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
It is time to share the secret I alluded to a couple of weeks ago.
Earlier this month, I received a letter from MidAmerica productions asking me to guest conduct in Carnegie Hall in Spring 2006. I could not believe it! And of course, I want to take my choir with me . . . do you want to go?
It is quite an opportunity, to be sure and I'm going to do my best to make it happen.
The reason for the incredible offer: they've heard about the great singing you've been doing for the past couple of years. And that is the truth.
MidAmerica had a gentleman working for them that used to be the Director of Choral Activities at Troy State University. He's now back in Alabama at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church (his name is Dr. Terre Johnson). Terre has been keeping up with the choral scene in Alabama and heard that we were doing exciting things at UAB--thus, the invitation to me.
I've spoken with Dr. Reynolds about it and he is all for the idea. If possible, we'll unite several choirs around Alabama and present the work at the Alys Stephens Center in Spring 2006 and then take everyone up to New York for a few days of fun and fabulous experiences.
For the concert to happen, 175 singers are needed. I would hope that about 50 or more could come from UAB. If you've got ideas about choirs and programs to investigate/encourage, let me know.
Carnegie Hall, like singing in Notre Dame Cathedral, is an incredible opportunity as well as a very high honor for all involved. Let me know what you think!
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Check it out:
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: Orbiting: "Philip Copeland, doing the same to the life of a university choral conductor (with sub-links to many members of the University of Alabama at Birmingham chorus). All contribute to the great work of Demystification. Blogging can show composers, singers, and critics as living, thinking beings, alert to the flow of twenty-first-century culture, not as the anachronistic antisocial freaks we actually are."
How 'bout that? I've been contributing to the great work of Demystification and I didn't even know it. Good Lord, no wonder I've been so tired lately.
Also mentioned was a young soprano, Anne Carolyn Bird, who is trying to make it in New York. She's got a blog that is pretty interesting . . . some facinating reads for you if you have a moment to look. I especially enjoyed "The Average Audition."
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Some historical points to ponder:
1. construction started in 1163, it was not completed until roughly 180 years later in about 1345. That makes the place 660 years old.
2. Crusaders prayed there before leaving on their holy wars, and polyphonic music developed in the cathedral.
3. Napoléon crowned himself emperor there.
4. A UAB choir will sing a thirty minute concert there on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 at 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
I found that there are more than a few famous ISFP's:
Dan Rather, news anchor
Dan Quayle, U.S. Vice President, 1988-1992
Michael Jackson, performer
Interesting array of sites if you remember what your Myers-Briggs was. I'm an ENTP, and described here.
Dr. Reynolds will be leading the combined choir for the next two rehearsals in preparation for Monday's King David. I know you will give him your best and I thank you ahead of time for the effort.
We'll return to normal rehearsal schedule next week and I'm already looking forward to it.
I think the sectional rehearsals have done a world of good and I anticipate breaking down into them more often as we continue this semester.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Diction practice recordings for the French and Latvian pieces are online:
1. Un Hemisphere (Thanks to Dr. Mosteller)
2. Redz Kur (Thanks to Aaron May)
3. Mate Saule (Thanks to Aaron May)
A couple of notes on this:
1. Please show your appreciation to Dr. Mosteller. He didn't have to help us and I, for one, am extremely grateful.
2. Same goes for Aaron May (appreciation-wise), a current student here at UAB. Why don't you send Aaron a quick email and show your appreciation? firstname.lastname@example.org
We are very appreciative to these two people.
The other important note on this: It is up to YOU to get to this diction. We are only as good as the time that you put into this!
Monday, January 17, 2005
In my happiest year as an instructor at the University of Mississippi, the choir sang a song arranged by Ray Liebau called "If I Can Help Somebody." The words were from a hymn quoted in one of the last speeches Martin Luther King ever gave.
We honor the great Martin Luther King today. Below is a portion of the speech he gave that night, with the hymn quoted in its context. There is a link to an Ole Miss recording of the arrangement, but it is rather large, so be forwarned.
If I Can Help Somebody (source of the sermon)
The words of Dr. King:
Every now and then I guess we all think realistically (Yes, sir) about that day when we will be victimized with what is life's final common denominator—that something that we call death. We all think about it. And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don't think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, "What is it that I would want said?" And I leave the word to you this morning.
If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)
I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)
I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)
I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)
And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)
I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)
I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that's all I want to say.
If I can help somebody as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,
If I can show somebody he's traveling wrong,
Then my living will not be in vain.
If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,
If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought,
If I can spread the message as the master taught,
Then my living will not be in vain.
Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, (Yes) not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Selig sind die Toten: Very good work this week. Know from last year.
Ave Maria (Vytautas Miškinis): will most likely change for another piece
See What the End is Going to Be: Learned last semester
Alleluia: Learned last semester, will begin work again soon. (LEARN IT, new folks)
Der Tanz: Easy, will not be hard to learn.
Un hémisphère dans une chevelure: Notes are OK, recording French tomorrow with Dr. Mostellar.
He’s Got the Whole World: Learned last semester, worked with girls on Thursday.
Clap Your Hands: might change, but learned last semester
Salmo XLII: Learned last semester, will work in sectionals next week
Organ Fugue: we'll change this one for another work.
Richte mich, Gott: Great work on this one. Memory must begin soon.
Mate Saule: Some light work done on this one, but learned it last semester and Aaron May (Latvian language guy) comes to record tomorrow
Redz, kur jaja div' bajari: Good work on this one, and will record Latvian tomorrow.
Daniel Daniel Servant Of The Lord: We did this one last year. Jonathan McNeil has confirmed that he is going on the trip, so we will do it again. I picked this one with Jonathan in mind for the solo . . . just to let you know.
Talked with a guy about our Spring 2006 possibility again. Exciting.
I found the BIO of the choir from California in the most recent edition of the Choral Journal. (Page 54)
Here are some salient points:
The CSU Northridge Singers are the advanced choral ensemble at California State University. Composed primarily of auditioned undergraduate vocal arts majors, the Northridge Singers have performed at national and regional ACDA Conventions and Regional MENC conferences.
They won the 2003 International Eistedfodd "Choir of the World" competition in Lllangollen, Wales.
Other credits of note include performances or recordings with artists Wynton Marsalis, Russell Watson, Barbara Streisand, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl Orchestras, and the Los Angelas Master Chorale.
Their performance at the 2005 ACDA National Convention in Los Angeles will mark the ensemble's second appearance at an ACDA national convention in the last five years.
What does it mean?
It means we aren't in a competition with losers, we are in a competition with winners. People that have accomplished things. Their inclusion into this choral competition raises the bar. And they are just group that we know about. You can bet that there will be some truly outstanding European and Latvian choirs that show up to Tours, France this summer.
Will we raise our current level of performance and effort to make a serious challenge at this competition? Or should we just give up now?
You know what it takes. Do it.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Hope you all "got" what I "meant" today at the beginning of rehearsal: the time to put in the effort is now, when we have enough time ahead of us to perfect and nuance our music.
On May 14, we will want to be as absolutely prepared as we can be. And it isn't just the people that are going to Europe that must work now . . . people that don't go to compete, if they don't work hard, will slow our progress and limit our full potential.
I am excited about this semester. It will be some hard work but all moments in our concerts will be thrilling . . . I'm convinced of it. You need to get excited by it. And you need to listen to your German recording.
Oh, and here is a hint about the other thing i referenced about a Spring 2006 possibility.
Friday, January 07, 2005
The following is a list of guidelines for beginning bloggers developed by George Siemens in December 2002:
1. Start. As stated earlier, blogging is best learned by blogging...and by reading other bloggers. So...start.
2. Know your motivation. Why are you blogging? What do you hope to achieve?
3. Link. The heart of blogging is linking...linking and commenting. Connecting and communicating - the purpose of the Internet.
4. Experiment. Developing a writing style is an evolutionary process. Try different approaches and formats until you find one that fits your message, audience, and personal motivations.
5. Use life and your experiences as your "idea generation" file.
6. Get an opinion. Then express it.
7. Express your personality...let your humour, your perspective on life, and your values shine in your writing.
8. Post regularly. This is important - readers drop off/lose interest with irregular blogs (syndication and aggregators allow blog readers to stay in touch with infrequently updated blogs - more on that in the section "Extending Blogs").
9. Keep writing clear and concise. Avoid jargon...but utilize the unique aspects of the medium (visual, links, sound). Focus on communication (function) before form.
10. Write for a reason, not recognition. Most bloggers have small audiences. Satisfaction is derived from the writing process, not the audience response.
It is possible that you'll be chosen to sing at Notre Dame on Wednesday, May 11. Our concert organizer in France is suggesting that you prepare a 30 minute program in the meantime. If chosen, they'll want to see it immediately. From what I understand, it would not just be participating in a Mass, but a 30 minute program.While it is not a sure thing, I would say that it is looking good.
Here is what I submitted:
Praise to the Lord (arr. Paul Christiansen)
Alleluia (Jósef Karai)
Salmo XLII (Uroš Krek)
Selig sind die Toten (Heinrich Schütz)
Ave Maris Stella (Edvard Grieg)
Richte mich, Gott (Felix Mendelssohn)
See What the End is Going to Be (Ronald Staheli)
Clap Your Hands (Edwin Fissinger)
Daniel Daniel Servant Of The Lord (Undine Moore)
Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen (arr. Norman Luboff)
He’s Got the Whole World (arr. Raymond Liebau)
I'm not sure I ever shared this with you . . . it is the translation to the French piece we are doing by Cosma, courtesy of Lauren Askew on November 11, 2004 (and some English-French translation software):
Let me breathe a long time, the fragrance of your hair, plunge there all my face like a man impaired in the water of a spring and to stir (or agitate) them with my hand like a sweet-smelling hankerchief, to shake memories from the air.
My love travels on the perfume like the love of the other men on the music. In the ocean of your hair i see a port swarming with songs, melancholic, vigorous men of all nations and ships of all forms of cutting. Their fine architectures and complicate on an immense sky or wearies the eternal heat.
In the burning hearth of your hair, I breathe the odor of tobacco, mixed, has opium with sugar. In the night of your hair, I see shining the infinite trpical blues. On the shores of the sleeping bag of your hair, I get drunk on the combined odors of tar, musk and coconut oil.
Let me bite your heavy and black braids a long time. when I bite your elastic and rebellious braids. It seems to me that I eat memories.
I'm sure we'll unpack and clarify this into something coherent.
For now, just get a sense of it.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
There are links to several MP3 files on the MUP 220 page of my website.
My advice: Learn this German quickly. Two of the files are the spoken text and one is sung.
If you want to use a great program to help you learn quickly, download a program I use called WavePad. The program allows you to see the actual sound file and there are features that allow you to rewind quickly and repeat sections as much as you want.
If you are smart, you will be able to figure out how I inserted space (silence) into the original soundfile. If you click here, the file will immediately download. And the best thing about it? It's free.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Quinn is not with us this semester, I'm sorry to say. She sent me a wonderful email, part of which I will excerpt here:
To the choir:
I have enjoyed every minute of concert choir and it will really be a void in my life. I will miss performing as well as all of the wonderful friendships that I've made.To me:
You have been a wonderful teacher and friend. I'll still be around and I hope I can come and sing with you guys some and I'll be at concerts for sure!!!! Thanks so much for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.To us both:
Choir has been a part of my life since the seventh grade, but it wasn't until your concert choir that it all came together and my true love for singing came out. It has been an honor to sing with such a talented group of musicians and have such a great teacher! I will miss each and every person.Classy.
I'm sorry I missed it, it must have been spectactular--as in perfectly awful.
In the comments section of the blog, one person responded about Kelly Clarkson's performance of The Star Spangled Banner:
Just thought you might find that interesting--
Actually, there was a worse performance at this event.
The singing of the National Anthem (I think it was the National Anthem, the words were familiar although I didn't recognize many of the notes) by Kelly (Help, I can't find a note to hold) Clarkson was horrid. It wasn't quite as bad, though, as her "performance" of O Holy Night during a Christmas season show.These idiot judges on American Idol, and such, praise these non-talents as "making the song their own." You don't make the National Anthem or O Holy Night "your own." You perform it with respect for the song, not some other worldly idea that your performance is more important than the song.
For the record, I completely agree with the writer . . . the song is more important than the performance. As musicians, we must make interpretive decisions that enhance the value of the music . . . music is not a vehicle for notoriety . . . it's not about us.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Got this email today--possible church job for interested student.
Dr. Copeland,Contact me if you are interested!
I am the current choir director at Wilson Chapel United Methodist Church in the Roebuck Springs area of Birmingham. I have recently acquired a position as choir director at a church closer to my residence in Vestavia and am assisting Wilson Chapel in acquiring a replacement. Wilson Chapel UMC is a traditional style church with an aging congregation. The choir is a very dedicated 12 person ensemble with very good skills. They need someone who is bright, energetic, and who wants to be there. This is a part time position. If you have any student(s) who may be interested, please forward this to them or contact me back so that I may contact them directly.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
- By the end of 2004 blogs had established themselves as a key part of online culture. Two surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in November established new contours for the blogosphere: 8 million American adults say they have created blogs;
- blog readership jumped 58% in 2004 and now stands at 27% of internet users; 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online; and 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs.
- Still, 62% of internet users do not know what a blog is.
Here is the one that I've had today--it's from this mornings choir anthem for the service at SHPC. I first found the Gilbert Martin (of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross fame) arrangement of Christ of the Upward Way when I arrived at South Highland. I've done the anthem so many times since then that I promised today to put it away for at least one year before I do it again.
Gilbert is an outstanding church choir arranger. He is smart enough to know that the choir needs to go into unison for the climax of the anthem instead of dividing into parts. That way, the choir can balance the organ/accompaniment, which is already increasinging in volume to support the emotion of the moment.
Anyway, it is a tremendous anthem. And the text, well . . . I find it profound and moving.
I provided the test below in case you are curious . . . and I found it here (in case you don't know about this resource, you future church musicians:
Whole choir, unison, warm key of Db major:
Christ of the upward way, my Guide divine,
Where Thou hast set Thy feet, may I place mine;
And move and march wherever Thou hast trod,
Keeping face forward up the hill of God.
Women only, two parts, Eb major:
Give me the heart to hear Thy voice and will,
That without fault or fear I may fulfill
Thy purpose with a glad and holy zest,
Like one who would not bring less than his best.
This verse is deleted in the Martin anthem.
Give me the eye to see each chance to serve,
Then send me strength to rise with steady nerve,
And leap at once with kind and helpful deed,
To the sure succor of a soul in need.
Whole choir, four parts, sung in F minor:
Give me the good stout arm to shield the right,
And wield Thy sword of truth with all my might,
That, in the warfare I must wage for Thee,
More than a victor I may ever be.
Entire choir, unison, G major:
Christ of the upward way, my Guide divine,
Where Thou hast set Thy feet, may I place mine;
And when Thy last call comes, serene and clear,
Calm may my answer be, “Lord, I am here.”
Delia had a question about GMAIL so I'll 'splain it to everyone.
GMAIL is the email service started by Google. In the geek world, gmail accounts are one of the "in" things and most of the hard core geeks have had gmail accounts for a pretty long time. The best thing about them is that they hold an astonishing 1 GIG of information. You can also use the google search functions on your email.
FWIW, I've not deleted anything from my account since getting it in August . . . from Patrick Fussell, brother of Katie.
As a matter of fact, I promised to stop "abusing" Patrick for not singing in choir after he gave me one of his invitations for the GMAIL account.
Anyway, you can find out more about GMAIL accounts by clicking.
And I still have three invitations to give away.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
If any of you guys are interested in a GMAIL account, let me know. I've got three invites to share and I will give them to the first choir members who comment to this post.
Is anyone interested?
Congratulations! You are rewarded for visiting my choir blog . . . UAB choir members only, please.