Monday, May 30, 2005
My mom said Caroline went to sleep first; Claire and Catherine kissed her cheek and patted her head in a loving way before laying down beside her in the position above.
For those who don't know the girls well, they are laying in this order:
Catherine, Claire, and Caroline. They are triplet girls, about to turn two. Catherine and Claire are identical twins and Caroline is their fraternal sister. Chances of this type of birth: 1 in 2 million.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Few students are aware of how special and brief their time in college actually is -- Delia always had a sense of the significance of each experience.
We were a better choir because Delia cared.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
I guess she's right; I've gone into a bit of a brain paralysis following the trip and I'm not quite ready to fully engage in life just yet. My top accomplishments of the past several days involved getting my jeep and van cleaned. And my clothes washed.
I had a great meal experience with Erin and Sarah after the early service yesterday. We rehashed parts of the trip and talked about some of the best moments of the trip. It seems that the universal best memories are, in no particular order:
1. Notre Dame concert experience
2. Outstanding performance in Paris suburb
3. Moment when Ms. Reynolds yelled for the choir to get back upstairs for an encore following the Thursday night performance in the Paris suburb.
4. Second competition set: Selig, Lux, ITYJ
Biggest surprise (according to Erin/Sarah): that we didn't win
I definitely felt that we were the favorites following the first night of the competition. Several judges made comments afterwards that seemed to confirm this suspicion. However, I felt our momentum wane on the second day.
Biggest surprise for me: that we won an interpretation award on Radiosfer and not Spleen. Why Radiosfer surprised me:
1. we changed a French pronunciation 30 minutes before singing for the judges. (OK, maybe it was 120 minutes.
2. major articulation changes two days before the competition
3. a French lady in the Thursday night concert could not tell that we were singing in French on that particular selection
Does it matter now? Nope.
Am I proud of the award? ABSOLUTELY. There were 16 other choirs that could have been awarded that particular prize.
To all those who blog: please keep it up. I'm enjoying reading about your trip reflections.
Friday, May 20, 2005
As you know very well from my constant retelling of the story, college choir gave me direction for my life. It changed me. I got to see the world, and most of the world that I have seen has come from the second tenor section. It is an honor for me to be a similar vehicle for you as you experience some of the things that we have on this trip: France, Notre Dame, concerts, competitions.
I’m not sure if you can always tell or not, but I love being your choir director.
- It is a joy for me to watch you interact with one another
- I love to make you laugh and I thrive in finding humor in our shared situations, rehearsal experiences, and music.
- I love the different insights that we find in the music:
- Life lessons
- Profound juxtapositions
- I love the memory that develops among the group as we experience things together.
It is a privilege to be your leader and a person interested in your life. I highly value the opportunity to give you advice or insight into your life situations or perhaps give you a new perspective on your current way of thinking.
I know that I sometimes frustrate you when I don’t respond the way that you think I should about decisions you have made and are making with your life. Some of my attitudes and opinions come from wisdom and prior life experiences. Sometimes I’m playing the Devil’s Advocate with you and other times I’m just wrong. I love making you think a little deeper about things.
I love our pursuit for excellence in all things musical, textual, and technical.
I’m concluding my fourth year at UAB and I’m astounded at the dramatic change in the level of music making over the past several years. There are many reasons for the rapid progress and much of the credit goes to the hard work of Jeff and Dale Reynolds. Don’t ever forget that.
Before them, Henry Panion led the way. Henry has a remarkable talent for innovation and creation. Much of what we have now was started by him.
Remember, UAB Music started with a music appreciation class.
We could not have considered participation in an international competition a short while ago. We could not have done this tour and competition last year, even though we were good enough to think about it. I must never forget that in August 2003 we had trouble singing “Flower of Beauty” all the way through without falling apart. Four semesters later we were performing a large number of incredibly difficult works in front of a jury of internationally accomplished choral directors—and receiving their highest marks.
As far as we have come in the recent days, we can also see that our future is bright. We entered our first international competition and we very nearly won it. We know that we beat the winning choir in one out of two categories. It will be public knowledge for us, but we will not make the information public.
My first and primary purpose in planning this trip and entering this competition was to show you what it was all about. In that end, I’ve succeeded wildly. It is worth retelling you that I rejected the advice of my mentor and did what I thought was right for this group. He wanted us to delay the entering of a competition like
Was it the best decision? I don’t know, but I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish with you: You now know what it is like to feel the intensity of working to master complicated tasks and then to execute them under the stress of adjudicators, performance situations, and a discriminating audience—all in the midst of jet lag induced fatigue and what some might call substandard living conditions.
The judges thought they were telling me something when they reminded me that I had a “young choir.” They don’t know how young we really are. Out of the thirty-six singers that sang on the
- 3 were added this semester and had to learn everything very quickly
- 10 were first year freshmen
- 15 were in their first year of UAB choir
- 26 were only in their second year of UAB Choir.
These are the students who have been with me longer than two years: Chris Carter, Anthony Concepcion, Delia Charest, Waylon Hinkle, Tara V. Howard, Sarah Labriola, Erin Pair, Lindsey Woolley, Charles Henry. I still don’t know how to categorize Jonathan McNeil!
Two of these students, Erin and Sarah, were with me on my first day of rehearsal at UAB. When we look at each other and talk about the past we share an unspoken amazement at the journey we’ve shared together.
To accomplish what we’ve accomplished, knowing the true facts of our situation, is nothing short of remarkable.
The credit goes to your ability to:
- Learn quickly
- Master complex material
- Perform under stress
My unwavering thanks goes out to:
- The teachers that prepared you
- The teachers that prepared me
- Your parents and family who love and support you
- The UAB support system that works on our behalf
You are a choir of champions. The pain that we experienced by not winning this first competition in NO WAY says that you aren’t a winner. It is only the true champion that hates to lose. Winning too easily raises a question about the validity of the competition.
You are a choir of leaders. You are passionate people and deeply spiritual. I admire who you are . . . but I will not be satisfied with you until we all achieve who we can be. Make no mistake: Most people never realize their potential in life. The majority of students that I have taught always look for the easiest way out.
If I teach you anything through the experiences I give you and the words that I speak, I hope it is this:
- Work hard at what you do, whatever it is that you choose to do.
- Take pleasure in working hard and find the humor that life provides. Pick a profession that allows you to love what you do.
- RISK: Step out of the normal expectations of people around you and try to do something that is truly exceptional. Great reward follows risk. One never regrets an attempt at greatness.
Monday, May 16, 2005
We are happy to report that we tied for the top award in Category 1 and that we received a special award for "Interpretation of a French Composition." The top award of the competition went to the other choir from the USA, the Salt Lake City choir. They were very good and they were the ones we tied with in Category 1.
Like champions, our choir was disappointed that they did not win (as was their director). However, the more we explored the scoring sheets and talked with the jury, the more we realized how close we came to winning the whole thing.
I'm very proud of the group and they are proud of themselves. We are off to see the city and bring a happy conclusion to this outstanding trip!
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Thoughts as they come to me:
- I found out that we were one of two American choirs out of five that were accepted for admittance to the festival. That in itself is an achievement!
- We are receiving glowing accolades from the audience: "very spiritual choir" "there is something in the air about your choir" "magnificent" "diverse program--very well rounded" "your choir looks as though they are enjoying themselves" "Are they professionals?"
- Jerry Jordan, my friend and mentor, tells me that the choir that sings with the most emotion and precision will win. We will try our best to achieve that very ideal today at 2:30 and 4:30. I think that the victory is within our grasp if we sing our best. The students are ready and prepared on the music; we only need to execute what we know to do--and add that extra sparkle and spunk of emotion and energy.
- The choir is experiencing performances and audiences like they've seen before. In last night's performance of LUX, I could actually hear the audience holding their breath as we sang the most intimate moments of the work on the last page. As a conductor, i've been taught to stretch the audience and their emotions to the breaking point . . . . and i tried to do just that last night. There wasn't a sound in the entire auditorium as the sopranos held their note perfectly until the choir (finally) entered beautifully on the last cadence. It was a moment that I will never forget.
- The audience went crazy following our performance of I Thank You Jesus; they clapped and screamed loudly following the last note. The students were ecstatic about their singing and many wept as they hugged one another. Very, very special.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
We have arrived in Tours and will begin the competition later today. The choir is a combination of excited, tired, and nervous. I gave them a "you don't have to be nervous about anything" talk last night and will do my best to motivate them to give their top performance today.
Our accommodations remind me a little of Camp Sumatanga: more like a dorm room than a hotel --- but the college students seem to roll with that punch rather well.
We are most nervous about the dead acoustic on the stage; it will not let us hear what we are used to hearing when we perform or rehearse. The solution is to sing the way you were rehearsed and to follow the director at all times--so I hope that I am able to hear everything I need to hear and make the proper adjustments when needed!
Everyone is happy and already talking about a trip next year overseas: we are really having a wonderful time. Thank you for all the support you give these fine students, it is highly valued by both student and professor.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Thanks for all your comments and I'm glad to say again that everyone is safe, sound, and happy. Occasionally grumpy from a combination of jet lag and late nights, but happy.
We sang a concert at a small catholic church in the Paris suburbs tonight and had a marvelous experience.
First, the choir felt great about their singing and I did too.
Several of the comments I've given them all year are beginning to ring true:
- I have told them the entire year that they would get better every day, especially as the competition neared.
- I told them that the concert audience in Europe would be incredible.
- I accurately described the "chant clap" that the audiences used when they really enjoyed a performance.
At the end of the concert, the choir left the auditorium and headed downstairs into the holding area where we began congratulating each other on our performance. The girls took off their shoes and the guys removed their jackets. About 3 or 4 minutes had passed since our last note.
Suddenly, Ms. Dale Reynolds appeared at the door and said in a loud voice "GET BACK UP THERE, THEY HAVEN'T STOPPED CLAPPING YET-----SING SOMETHING ELSE!!!!"
We were stunned that they were still applauding--it just didn't seem like it could be true.
And . . . well, the truth is, we really didn't have anything else but we had to do something, didn't we?
Hurriedly, we got to the stage, only this time we didn't proceed in an orderly manner. Those that were completely dressed took the stage first and then the rest followed. We performed one of the songs that we sang in the fall semester (See What the End is Going to Be) and followed it with Praise to the Lord. We had run through PTL a couple of times but hadn't touched the first one for at least three months.
Luckily, the choir pulled them off, and quite well I'm proud to say.
It was a great evening and a night to remember.
We're headed to the competition tomorrow. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers!
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
We performed our concert at Notre Dame this morning and the choir did a spectacular job.
It was a moving experience for many of the students; several of them commented to me about how emotional they found the performance. More on that later, perhaps.
As for me, I have been wandering around Paris for the last few hours and just found this internet cafe. And I am having a little trouble typing on an international keyboard!
All is well here; all are happy and safe. As far as I can tell, they are having the time of their lives! Keep us in your prayers!
Some still need our hotel numbers:
May 9, 10, 11, and 12
33, avenue du Docteur Arnold Netter
May 13, 14, and 15
Centre Technique Regional Omnisports (CTRO)
3, rue Jules Ladoumegue
May 16 and 17
Ibis Cambronne – Tour Eiffel
2, rue Cambronne
Monday, May 09, 2005
Friday, May 06, 2005
Here's a list of things to see and do in Paris:
- Tall places to get a nice view of "La Ville Lumière":
1) Eiffel Tower
2) Arc de Triomphe
3) climb up to Sacré-Coeur, on Montmartre--MY BEST MEMORY
4) the bell tower of Notre-Dame
- Lovely churches:
2) la Sainte-Chapelle (located across the street from Notre-Dame, beside the Palais de
- Cool museums:
1) Louvre--Leigh and I spent two days in the Louvre--touring it with a headset that described features of the artwork. Really great.
2) Musée d'Orsay (impressionnistic art)
3) Musée Rodin (sculptures by the sculpteur of "The Thinker", 1/2 collection is arranged
outdoors in gardens, with nice little café for lunch/snack)
- Neat areas to explore:
1) Quartier Latin (on Left Bank - "La Rive Gauche" -- where the university, la Sorbonne, is
located as well as all sorts of young, hip people and cafés and restaurants ... all kinds
2) Starting at the Place de la Concorde, stroll down the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de
Triomphe, and stop at any café along the way.
3) la Place du Tertre, at top of Montmartre, is fun during the day because of artists and
cafés at summit, plus shops along the way.
4) the Bouquinistes (little vendors along the river Seine -- selling old books, posters and
5) flea markets (Marché aux Puces) -- the one at Porte de Clignancourt is big ... on Right
Bank, north of Paris ... kind of near Montmartre
Good things to eat/drink:
1) Breakfast pastries: croissants and pains au chocolat (croissant-type pastry rolled
around a chocolate center)
2) croque-monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich)
3) cheese -- Camembert, Brie, Roquefort (=blue), ... there's hundreds of kinds!!!
4) café au lait / café crème
5) Café or Chocolat Liégeois - an ice cream dessert with coffee-flavored or chocolate
sauce and real whipped cream -- Yum!
7) crèpe (you can find them at sidewalk vendors)
The book I recommended is called "Let's Go: France" or "Let's Go: Paris", published by Yale (or Harvard) University Press.
That's all I can think of at the moment -- Enjoy!!
THANKS FOR SHARING, CHRIS!
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Update:Well, we were on! Only about 20 seconds but we made the news and sounded great. Hey --How long has my hair been gray?
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
The files are in MP3 format but rather large because I gave them a pretty high bitrate. Translation: it will take you a while to download them if you have a slow connection.
1. Deborah Anderson
2. Kristina Banks
3. Kevin Beck
4. Jessie Brown
5. David Berg
6. Chris Carter
7. Delia Charest
8. Anthony Concepcion
9. Lauren Davidson
10. Katie Fussell
11. Holly Sawardecker
12. Wes Edgar
13. Andrew Granlund
14. Meghan Granlund
15. Leah Hains
16. Maggie Hendricks
17. Charles Henry
18. Rachel Hicks
19. Zach Hill
20. Waylon Hinkle
21. Jonathan Hood
22. Tara Howard
23. Carlee Jackson
24. Sarah Labriola
25. Evan Long
26. Jonathan McNeil
27. Katie Movelle
28. Joshua Noland
29. Erin Pair
30. Lincoln Parrott
31. Megan Ramsey
32. Clay Rector
33. Jennifer Scivley
34. Rebekah Smith
35. Patrick Williams
36. Lindsey Woolley
37. John Ray
38. Kat Ray
39. Dale Reynolds
40. Len Williams
41. Philip Copeland
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
My advice: look for it early (today) before you need to find it on Wednesday!
Church of the Ascension is located in Vestavia Hills, one block west of U. S. 31 at 1912 Canyon Road, behind Publix and the Rave Cinema
Note: US 31 is also called Montgomery Hwy on Mapquest and some street signs!
* From the South (Hoover, Pelham, etc.): Come north on I 65 and take the Hoover/Vestavia exit (U. S. 31, aka Montgomery Hwy) and go north. Turn left on Canyon Road (Shell Station on the corner and Publix on your left.) go one block. The parking lot for our educational facility and parish hall will be immediately in front of you.
From the north (Homewood, Birmingham) Go South on US 31 & 280, following the signs for US 31. Go through Homewood, past Brookwood Hospital and into Vestavia. When you reach Vestavia, turn right at the fourth traffic light (Canyon Road, Shell Station on Corner) and go one block. The parking lot for our educational facility and parish hall will be immediately in front of you.
* There is another small parking lot south and west of the church. Continue on Canyon and turn to your right for this lot.