Sunday, April 30, 2006
Dr. Malcolm Portera was in attendance tonight and complemented me on your performance.
Who is he? He's my the chancellor of the UA systems--the person over Carol Garrison in the Alabama systems.
So . . . one never knows where a concert will lead you. Our concert last Sunday gave us the entry into tonight's concert and the boss of the University of Alabama systems was in attendance.
And I was proud.
Type in your starting address.
I drove out there just a moment ago and I have a couple of notes:
1. Watch the turn for Beechwood Road. It's a little tricky. Here's a pic of it:
2. A closeup--note the green bow:
3. The turn into the club is a little tricky--not well marked. Watch for the white wall on your right:
4. This is the building we are singing in. Park to the left of it (in a parking lot).
5. Here is the room. Looks nice!
Thursday, April 27, 2006
1. Getting things done. This is an article in Financial Times about a system of getting all your work done. Older students know that I advocate Steven Covey's philosophy about life and organization (Seven Habits of Highly Successful People); this Getting Things Done is a way of processing the incredible amount of tasks that come to us everyday. Am I perfect at the system? Nope. But I'm more organized than I used to be! I hope to re-read the book soon and get a few better habits over the summer.
2. Was pointed to the Yamipod software today. Currently free, a way of transferring files back and forth from your Ipod without all the ridiculous restrictions.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Monday, April 24, 2006
PEFORMANCE: Sunday night! REQUIRED
I received a phone call today from the meeting planner of Protective Life Insurance Company. The CEO of Protective Life, Mr. Johnny Johns, heard us sing at the Episcopal church on Sunday and wants us to sing a few numbers at his Board of Directors meeting this Sunday at the Mountain Brook Club. (directions below)
For our services, he is a making a very generous contribution towards our European Trip next summer. Isn't that incredibly nice?
Group: UAB Concert Choir
Event: Board Meeting, Protective Life Corporation
Date: Sunday, April 30th
Time: 7:00 p.m. gather (place to be assigned from MBC)
Perform: 7:15 p.m.
Place: Mountain Brook Club,
How to get to Mountain Brook Club.
So, friends, our last concert has not been sung . . . . yet.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
As many of you know, one of my mission's for the UAB choir is to sing at at least one community worship service each semester. The reasoning is several-fold:
1. It is our way of giving to the community in a public way.
2. It is a way for you to experience another worship style.
3. It is a way of showing the community some of the great things we have going on at UAB in the music department.
In recent semesters, we have sung at a variety of places:
Spring 2006 St. Luke's Episcopal
Fall 2005 Canterbury Methodist
Spring 2005 South Highland Presbyterian
Fall 2004 Mountain Brook Baptist
Fall 2003 Trinity Methodist
I hope to schedule a time at a Catholic church in the fall and perhaps a Jewish Synagogue service on a Saturday night.
We have much to give, and much to learn.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Interested in taking it? Here's a sample.
Where you can find more samples.
And, when you are rich successful doctors, please contribute to Dr. Copeland's choral scholarship fund.
Mozart was fabulous. All of the things I mentioned in the pre-rehearsal really came out incredibly well in the performance. My regret: Magnificat cue on 3, basses--My fault! Lindsey was tremendous, as were all of the soloists.
Our set was good, not great. Reasons? I have a couple of ideas, nothing for sure.
Chamber singers had some incredible moments. The music seemed to feature Andrew, at least from what I could hear from sitting behind him, and he sounded fantastic. Best I've heard from the low man.
The big picture: we just completed the final leg of a tremendous year. Messiah, ACDA, Mozart. Up next, Church on Sunday and CARNEGIE HALL on May 9.
President Garrison was in attendance tonight, by the way. I remember the word "spectacular" and "it looked great to have so many people on the stage." It was great to have her there.
Friday, April 21, 2006
You'll note that the men look to be from England . . . doesn't an English accent insure dignity and class?
Although the picture above could have been a photo of me in my office, I assure you it is not. My computer monitor is larger.
Favorite pic here.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Saint Luke's Episcopal Church
3736 Montrose Rd
Birmingham, AL 35213
Click here and Google Maps will help you get there.
Time to arrive: 10:00 a.m.
Service begins: 11:15 a.m.
Exultate Deo (Palestrina)
Irish Blessing (Bernhardt)
Amazing Grace (arr. Sheena Phillips)
Sunday, April 30th
For all those that might owe me a favor!
South Highland Presbyterian Church
Directions to Church
Time to arrive: 10:15 a.m.
Service begins: 11:00 a.m
Music: 1st and 5th movement of Mozart Solemn Vespers.
This morning he pointed me towards a moving article about the power of a recording made in 1938 of Mahler's Farewell Symphony. Highly recommended reading.
He's also recently discussed the failure of music education and what might be done to help the public-at-large find what many (most? some?) of us find when we hear great works of art.
Check Alex's blog out. I keep up with it through bloglines and I still highly recommend that as a way of following the blogging world.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Anyway, something pointed me to a piece by Emmylou Harris: Prayer in Open D (a cowgirl's prayer). I mentioned it in class the other day and got mostly blank faces.
Checkitout . . . only 99 cents on iTunes . . .
The text of the piece is nice, the music better. She has the ability to put real emotion into the way she sings so many of the words. Great nuance . . . and the use of the cello at the end is just incredible . . .
There's a valley of sorrow in my soul
Where every night I hear the thunder roll
Like the sound of a distant gun
Over all the damage I have done
And the shadows filling up this land
Are the ones I built with my own hand
There is no comfort from the cold
Of this valley of sorrow in my soul
There's a river of darkness in my blood
And through every vein I feel the flood
I can find no bridge for me to cross
No way to bring back what is lost
Into the night it soon will sweep
Down where all my grievances I keep
But it won't wash away the years
Or one single hard and bitter tear
And the rock of ages I have known
Is a weariness down in the bone
I use to ride it like a rolling stone
Now just carry it alone
There's a highway risin' from my dreams
Deep in the heart I know it gleams
For I have seen it stretching wide
Clear across to the other side
Beyond the river and the flood
And the valley where for so long I've stood
With the rock of ages in my bones
Someday I know it will lead me home
from Psalm 81:
1 Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
2 Begin the music, strike the tambourine,
play the melodious harp and lyre.
3 Blow the trumpet in the New Moon,
and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast;
Abendlied, Op. 69, no. 3 (Josef Rheinberger) 1839-1901
From Luke 24:29:
Bide with us, for evening shadows darken, and the day will soon be over.
Professor conducts at Carnegie Hall
By Megan Smith
Associate Campus Editor
April 13, 2006
William Powell and a 31-member choir will perform at Carnegie Hall April 22.
William Powell, a University choral teacher, has conducted himself right to the top where all aspiring singers and musicians hope to be: Carnegie Hall.
In 2004, MidAmerica Productions invited Powell to lead a group of students to New York City and conduct a concert in Carnegie Hall.
“It’s got to be probably one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a conductor,” Powell said.
Powell will travel with 31 volunteer singers from the men’s and women’s choruses and the Concert Choir.
The group will leave April 19, perform April 22 and return to Auburn April 23.
The performers will open with Mozart’s “Missabrevis in B-Flat,” which has six movements, and will end with Franz Jospeh Hyden’s “TeDeum.”
The estimated time of the performance is 25 minutes.
As for the pieces selected, Melissa Sconyers, one of the singers attending the trip, said it has taken a lot of time and preparation to learn them well.
“I’m kind of nervous. It’s some pretty difficult music,” Sconyers said.
Powell said he’s been impressed with the amount of time and dedication the volunteers have put into the concert.
“I’m real proud of their work and the progress they’ve made,” Powell said.
Four soloists will contribute to the performance. Powell said they were selected from a talent agency in New York.
Powell said he has been preparing for this concert since last semester and officially began rehearsals Mondays and Wednesdays this spring.
Sconyers said while she’s excited about going to Carnegie Hall, she’s had to watch her spending closely.
“I’m using all the money I saved this summer for the trip, and I’ve lived pretty tight this year,” Sconyers said.
The cost of the trip per person is more than $1,000.
“Their commitment is truly a financial one,” Powell said.
Jeff Loddo, another singer attending, said he was interested in the trip because he’s originally from New York.
“When Dr. Powell said we could go to Carnegie Hall, I jumped on it,” Loddo said.
Loddo said having the opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall is a dream for him.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole life,” Loddo said.
Sconyers said since she has never been to New York, she wants to experience the Big Apple and be able to sing.
“I’ve never been to New York before, but I know being able to actually perform the music itself is unbelievable,” Sconyers said.
Powell said he hopes all the rehearsals and energy put into the concert will show to the audience.
While the process has been stressful and overwhelming at times, Powell said it has all been worth it.
“I am extremely honored to have been invited, and we’re looking forward to going there and doing our best and representing Auburn,” Powell said.
Dicapo's premiere got some extra drama when Allison Keil, the soprano cast in the leading role of Anna Maurrant, ruptured a vocal cord on Friday afternoon. As a result, Mary Ellen Duncan sang and spoke the role from the side of the stage, while Ms. Keil, at the center of the action, pantomimed Mrs. Maurrant's loneliness; her love for her children, Willy and Rose; and her affair with the milkman, Steve Sankey (Richard Gennaro), which leads to their deaths when her husband walks in on them. Oddly enough, this dual casting didn't prove as distracting as one might expect. Ms. Keil has a compelling stage presence, and the poignancy of her enforced silence gave her character an added vulnerability and authority. And Ms. Duncan acquitted herself well.
More about her here.
1. How many years have you been teaching Music? At UAB?
I'm completing my fifth year at UAB and have been employed as a music educator for a total of 10 years.
2. Can you tell me a bit about UAB's various choirs?
There are four choirs at UAB: Concert Choir, Women's Chorale, Chamber Singers, Gospel Choir.
3. Does UAB have a nationally recognized choir program?
We've made huge strides in the last several years; our concert this past February at the Regional Convention of the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) put us on the map. It was the first time any UAB music ensemble has performed on the national stage.
4. UAB will be traveling to New York soon. Do the UAB choirs go on trips often? To competitions?
UAB choirs have traveled to England and performed major works and competed in an international choral competition last summer--the Florilege Vocal de Tours. It was a very exciting event and we were pleased to win the top score in the mixed choirs category and win the Prix du Ministere de la Culture, an award given for best performance of a French composition. As far as our frequency of travel, I'm trying to go on an international trip every two years.
5. How were you selected to conduct in New York?
By word of mouth, really. The UAB Concert Choir sang in Alabama's Collegiate Choral Festival a few years ago and word of our performance reached an Alabama native who worked with a company called MidAmerica Productions. They called last spring and asked if I'd be interested in conducting at Carnegie Hall. Who could turn that down?
6. Did you have any decision on the selection of work to be performed?
I let the New York people pick the work, actually, and I'm glad they did. We decided that we would honor Mozart with the concert since this is the 250th anniversary of his birth.
7. How many UAB students will be attending this trip?
About 40 UAB students are planning on making the trip.
8. If one is interested in joining choir how do you go about becoming involved?
Contact me! (email@example.com) I put the singer through a brief audition. It's easy.
9. Are their scholarships avilable?
Scholarships are available, but not in large supply. That's my number one goal at UAB right now: to find ways to increase the choral scholarships in our department. We are achieving so much--but we could easily be one of the top programs in the nation with scholarship dollars.
10. Is there any other information you'd like to give students about UAB choir, the trip, or anything else?
College choir is a special opportunity; if a person sings, there will never be another chance to sing in a group like choirs at UAB. I hope to take all three groups to Europe next year for an international choral competition. It's a great time to join up!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
It looked really impressive to have the stage full of orchestra and singers--it sounded even better.
There were some really outstanding moments and I think it will be even better on Friday. The main task for our choir--get your heads out of the music. There are a FEW people that are watching me all the time--and it is impressive. All UAB Concert Choir people need to be the leaders in every section. Look over the music, watch me for cues, lead with vigor.
Mozart's Solemn Vespers (K. 339) is a truly great work. The quartet sounds marvelous and Lindsey sounds particularly incredible.
We will, of course, be working on this again today!
Sunday, April 16, 2006
An excerpt, obviously written to women:
A person’s twenties are about definition and getting Mr. Right to notice you while you prove to the world you can take care of yourself. At the beginning, though society allows you vote, you cannot drink and getting into forbidden places through ingenuity becomes sport.
Your twenties are about test driving your emotions, test driving men and defining self. The adjectives used to define Mr. Right at 20 generally include smart, tall, fun, handsome, ambitious, great car . . . At twenty, a year is a very long time and for most women, the person she is at 20 is drastically different the woman she becomes by 30.
By thirty, Mr. Right grows up, puts on a few pounds and has better things to do with his time than drink beer, work out and live just for the moment. Now a woman you realize substance exceeds aesthetics . .The new adjectives now reflect your own maturity and include more concrete ideals such as integrity, a passion for living, principles, goal-oriented, considerate and loving. By thirty, you realize it’s not whether he wants you, it’s whether you want him. At thirty you sometimes forget what year it is because time now goes by so fast.
I couldn't help but think of it at the end of the Hallelujah chorus during the easter service. Have you guys heard it before?
Dr. Gainey was the first to share it with me last Christmas.
Happy easter! Mozart dress rehearsal tomorrow night!
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Easter hunt picture here.
Park picture here.
Claire smiling here.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Their director, Dr. Martha Shaw, is a former student of John Jennings who is the former director of South Highland's music ministry. I took the job after John's retirement a few years ago; his wife Joyce still plays the organ.
Dr. Shaw brought about 30 of her 50-member choir over to Birmingham today to sing a tribute to Dr. Jennings. That's right . . . thirty people gave up a day out of their busy lives to sing a concert for one man. There were others of us in the small audience, but the concert was for a solitary individual.
It is one of the nicest things I have ever seen in my profession.
There is a debt that nearly every conductor owes to her mentor . . . for Dr. Shaw it was John Jennings. My own debt is well known.
The deed speaks as much about Martha Shaw as it does John Jennings. Once, a guy named John made a tremendous impact on a young student in his college choir. Years later, the student acknowledged that experience by honoring her teacher with a concert.
I won't forget it.
I'm sending the choir a note that contains the following message:
Dr. Shaw and Members of the Shorter Chorale . . .
Thank you, thank you, thank you . . . for your emotionally and musically satisfying performance at South Highland Presbyterian Church today. It was a special concert and one could not help but be moved by your heart-felt singing of wonderful music.
You invested yourself in your performance today and it was touching. You obviously have a great love for your teacher and she obviously has a great love for hers.
All of your faces where expressive and a few were absolutely radiant. I wish my choir could have seen you sing. You proved today that choral music is as much a visual art as it is an aural one. I actually feel as though I "got to know" the group . . . just from watching you sing.
My best wishes to you and your director for many wonderful years together . . . .
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Monday, April 10, 2006
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Thursday, April 06, 2006
AU choral music director Smith adds coda to 34-year career
AUBURN - Thomas R. Smith says close to 2,500 Auburn University students have sung and played for him since he became Auburn's director of choral activities in the fall of 1972.
He has led hundreds of concerts and thousands more rehearsals as director of the Auburn University Concert Choir, a by-audition-only chorus of about 100 voices, and also of the University Singers, a show choir of 36 dancers and singers and nine instrumentalists.
But Smith, 62, is nearing his last rehearsal and last concert as Auburn's choral activities director.
He's retiring May 31. And some of his former students have organized an alumni concert and are asking former members of the Concert Choir and University Singers to gather in Auburn May 27-28 to rehearse and sing for Smith one last time.
"He has touched so many people's lives, and we just want him to leave with having this as a memory," said one of the organizers, Dale Farmer.
"He truly cares about people. He always strives for excellence in everything he does. I don't know of any other person, ever, in my experience that is loved as much as he is, and respected as much," said Farmer, 51, a flight attendant who is back at Auburn working on a doctorate in music education.
Smith, 62, said the heart attack he suffered last fall was a wake-up call, one that told him he needed less stress in his life, along with more exercise.
Smith has chaired Auburn's music department since 2000 and he said he's always put pressure on himself to get a performance ready and perfected.
"Having to measure up to your own expectation is a lot of pressure. And that part, I won't miss," Smith said. "I like when the perfection comes, and you can experience it, but I will not miss the pressure of having to get it to that point."
Smith said he's looking forward to spending more time while he's healthy with his wife, Gayle, and their adult son and daughter and 14-month-old granddaughter.
He plans to remain the choir director of Providence Baptist Church near Beauregard, a post he has held since 1974. And he's open to new musical challenges.
But Smith said that, just as most Concert Choir members never again sing with a group that good once they leave Auburn, he likely will never again direct such a quality choir, and he'll miss that.
He said some of his favorite memories with the Concert Choir include:
Singing at the National Cathedral in Washington in 1999.
Performing "Belshazzar's Feast," by English composer William Walton, with the Alabama Symphony in Birmingham in 1990.
Performing Giuseppe Verdi's "Requiem" with the Alabama Symphony in Birmingham in 1989.
Performing Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Columbus, Ga., in 1992.
The annual spring tours, on which the Concert Choir and University Singers fill three Trailways buses for three days of concerts at churches, schools and other places in Alabama and neighboring states.
Smith said about two-thirds of his singers over the years have been nonmusic majors. So why do they, and music majors, sing in choirs when they get to college?
Creating good music is one reason. But Smith said creating a sense of family is another.
"It provides them an opportunity of a place to belong, and they can combine their talents with all these other folks and produce something that's more powerful than any of them can do on their own," smith said.
"There are certain lessons that you learn through music that are going to be applicable to any field, wherever you are: The discipline that it takes, the application of oneself to a task, learning how to work with other people, coming together and putting all those different personalities into one group," Smith said.
"It's so important in singing in the choir that, in order for the music to be unified, the group has to have a sense of unity and oneness," he said.
More than anything, Smith said he's going to miss working with students, and ``the opportunity to relate to them, to be a mentor sometimes, sometimes to be a friend."
"Sometimes, you're a teacher. Sometimes, you're a golf buddy," Smith said. "There are just so many aspects of those things."
Hester Tippett Maginnis, 32, a homemaker from Helena, was in Auburn recently watching Smith conduct a Singers rehearsal once more, before he leaves.
"It saddens me," she said. "He's always just been a huge part of my life."
"I love music. And he was really a father figure, too. He had an open-door policy. Any time we felt had had trouble, we could go in and talk to him," said Maginnis, who sang in the Concert Choir and Singers in 1991-95.
Ken Thomas, 41, the choral music director at Auburn High School, also sang in both groups. He said Smith stands out because of his love for music, love for people and unselfish spirit.
"He has been a mentor, a friend, and of course, a teacher," Thomas said. "In working with my choirs, I always in the back of my mind think, 'How will Dr. Smith feel about what I'm about to present?' That's just how much he means to me, and to choral music in general."
Smith said he tried to lead by example, and by never asking someone to do something he wouldn't be willing to do, a practice he hopes his students will remember and follow.
"I'm just going to miss the relationship with the students. That is the No. 1 thing," Smith said. "And I'll miss the opportunity of making music with the Concert Choir and Singers."
"Both are totally different groups, but the choral quality, we've striven to make that the same for both," he said. "There's a high quality."
"It's been a joy," Smith said. Then he paused and continued, "It's been a joy. And I really am blessed to have had the opportunity to be in one place and do as much as I've been able to do over the years."
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Don Giovanni by Mozart
In Italian with projected English translations
Friday, April 7, 2006 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 8, 2006 8:00 p.m.
Alys Stephens Center
$75, $58, $42, $28, $19 reserved seating, $10 students
What will it take to stop the notorious Don Giovanni from his pursuit of all women? Only intervention from beyond the grave can make Don Giovanni pay for his lecherous escapades! Mozart’s “perfect opera” is both comical and terrifying as it follows the misdeeds of the infamous seducer and his final doom.
Starring Philip Cutlip (Don Giovanni), Derrick Parker (Leporello), Madeline Bender (Donna Elvira), Kristin Lewis (Donna Anna), Brian Downen ( Don Ottavio), Michelle Areyzaga (Zerlina), and John Sauvey (Masetto).
Conducted by William Fred Scott
A Co-production with the Alabama Symphony
I love it.
I was in the band my first semester at Ole Miss and stayed in it for a total of four or five semesters--I don't really remember how long it was.
I joined choir in the second semester of my freshmen year and never looked back. I remember one of the pieces that we did that first rehearsal: Barber's Mary Hynes. It is quite difficult. I think I'll make it one of our works next year.
1. Mary Hynes
She is the sky of the sun!
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The new documents, on display at Vienna's Musikverein, reveal that he earned about 10,000 florins a year — at least $42,000, in today's terms.
That would have placed him in the top 5 percent of wage-earners in late 18th-century Vienna, say experts, who were unable to prove lingering suspicions that gambling debts took a big bite out of Mozart's earnings.
"Mozart made a lot of money," said Otto Biba, director of Vienna's vast musical archives.
To put his earnings in perspective: Successful professionals lived comfortably on 450 florins a year, according to Biba, who said Mozart's main occupation in Vienna was teaching piano to aristocrats — a lucrative job that helped support his extravagant lifestyle.
Monday, April 03, 2006
A bit of the background:
The Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, K339 (Solemn Vespers for a Confessor) were written in 1780, the year after Mozart had reluctantly returned home to take up the role of court organist to Hieronymous Colloredo, the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg. It was not a happy time for Mozart. Now in his twenties, his days of instant recognition as a child-prodigy were over, and his last trip to Europe in search of wealthy patronage had proved fruitless. To make matters worse, his mother, who had travelled with him, had been taken ill and died in Paris, and Aloysia Weber, with whom he had fallen head over heels in love, had jilted him. Salzburg cramped his style; it was too provincial and there was no opera house. As if that wasn't enough, Archbishop Colloredo, sought to clip his wings and introduced liturgical reforms, forbidding the customary use of operatic conventions in church music, and demanding a much more direct and succinct mode of expression. It is all the more remarkable, then, that this period of discontentment for Mozart should be marked by an outpouring of such joyful masterpieces as the Coronation Mass and the two wonderful sets of Vespers, of which the The Vesperae Solennes de Confessore is the second and perhaps best known.
We have dress rehearsal a week from tonight! And we pick the soloists tomorrow. Exciting times.
I know we have a lot of school left but it feels nearly done for me.
I don't think I'm supposed to say that.
As far as the Mozart, I've gotten through all the movements with Women's Chorale and Birmingham Concert Chorale. Much to do this week with UAB's choir!
Looking forward to tomorrow . . .