Sunday, July 30, 2006

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day . . .

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

-- William Shakespeare

A discussion here.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Opera Auditions!

A Message from Ms. Reynolds:

Dear UAB Opera Fans!

You may have heard by now that we have hired Dr. Bonnie Pomfret to
teach applied voice and opera at UAB this year. She will be a
terrific addition to our faculty. However, she has the daunting task
of choosing literature and casting a production to be presented on
November 3 and 5!! To that end, we are requesting that each of you
come in and sing one selection on Friday, August 4 in order that the
lead roles can begin learning their parts. Auditions will be between
noon and 2:00 (in 5 minute increments). I (Ms. Reynolds) will be
there to accompany. Please choose one opera aria to perform if you
are interested in a art song will be sufficient if you are
just interested in participating in the chorus.

PLEASE CALL NORA in the Music Office (934-7376) to schedule an
audition time. It is not imperative for those of you who live out of
town to come, but it would be helpful if you COULD come if you are
interested in a major role. Please make this a priority so that we
can help make this process as easy as possible for Dr. Pomfret as we
welcome her to UAB!

Thanks in advance for your participation!
Ms. Reynolds

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Europe Contemplations

Early prices are in on the European trips I've constructed thus far.

Fact #1: The trip will be more expensive this year.
Fact #2: This is a difficult decision.

Europe Decision

Analysis of our current choices:

To me, the first trip mentioned still looks the best (Munich-Salzburg-Gorizia-Venice). This is a slightly cheaper version than (Munich-Salzburg-Gorizia-Venice-Florence) with the obvious deletion of Florence to save $250. For another couple of hundred dollars, a trip to Florence seems worth it to me (but there has to be a line there somewhere.)

The good: Those are some very exciting cities with a competition of significant caliber (a gran premio competition).
The bad: It's over 2500, my original self-imposed limit.

The cheapest trip ($2349) has some good points. It happens in May (less time for our hard work to dissipate over the summer), the competition is prestigious (which is one of its problems), and Vienna is a fantastic destination. The Marktoberdorf competition, however, is problematic for two reasons. First, it is incredibly difficult to be invited (last time they invited 10 of 66 applications). Second, the length of the festival (six days) keeps us from seeing more of Europe for our significant investment.

The other current option (Frankfurt-Wernigerode-Leipzig-Prague) is a mixed bag, too. This is the latest competition . . . if it had happened this summer we would have returned yesterday. Dr. Jordan says that Wernigerode is a fantastic city--one that the East German government kept pristine and a showcase for their country. he also says that the performing space has wonderful acoustics. The competition there offers opportunity for a large number of choirs (women's, men's, large choirs, chamber choirs). The price is on the higher side.

It's a tough decision. If you have comments, give them to me. Email might be better than the normal commenting on a post . . . (

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sarah's Hitched

Originally uploaded by philipco.
Congrats to Sarah on her lovely wedding today.

I enjoyed attending and watching this important occasion in her life. Of course, I still believe this and this.

Shepherd's email

I asked Shepherd to let me share the email and he gave me permission.

For those of you who don't know, I was fortunate to be in the Ole Miss Concert Singers with Shepherd Smith--he sat behind me for two years.

He sent this email to our director, Dr. Jordan, a few hours ago from Lebanon.

Here it is:

Greetings from Kiryat Schmona in the north of Israel 2km from the border with Lebanon. Rockets blast. Fires burn. Children spend this Shabat in fallout shelters for the 12th consecutive day. Over the border, part of Lebanon is being reduced to ruins. I peck on my blackberry in a smoky, windy valley in the shadow of the Golan Heights and beneath screaming F-16s... crouched on the page of a mideast history textbook 20 years before its printing.



Remember instructing us how to say that word in context from the choir room? (I was probably talking to someone on the back row... elevating your blood pressure and testing your resolve, yet again) Those were my first glancing brushes with the world beyond the red clay hills of my childhood. They did peek an interest, though I didn't know it at the time, that's carried me to this day. I read a book or 2 about the region in the years that followed... learning a little something of substance.


Last night I spoke with my colleagues in our encampment... men and women who hail from 4 different continents... who've endured war and famine, in some cases, since I sat between corky and mark before your guiding wand... and told them of those days in oxford and dubrovnik and beyond. The beginning.

You once told me, as I was weighing the now laughable conflict between greek life and geek life, that "20 years from now you'll be better for these times and these experiences."

Thanks, Dr. J... For patience and guidance... for opening young and impressionable eyes to reality beyond the Rebels. Part of the human foundation that steadies and readies me here and everywhere... was of your making..

Best to you, Mrs J and the family.


Shepherd Smith--in Lebanon--thinking of choir

Dr. Jordan just forwarded me a message he received from Shepherd Smith who is currently in Lebanon with Fox News.

I've asked Dr. Jordan to ask Shepherd if I can reprint his email here . . . it is a somewhat profound reminder of where life can take you.

I hope he lets me . . .

I've told you before about Shepherd . . . he was the guy with all the funny comments that sat directly behind me in the Bass 2 section. I still marvel at his ascent to network news and I'm proud as heck to have known him in college.

He's thinking of his choir experiences while he's in Lebanon . . . what an impact Dr. Jordan had on him.

I've been trying to look back at Shepherd with my "teacher eyes." He had a "spark" in him that was undeniable and I always smile when I hear his characteristic wit and commentary on life, politics, and the human condition.

Godspeed, Shepherd. Get back home safely. And let's visit Dubrovnik again one day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

mbv asks about opera . .

All I know is this: Dr. Pomfrett will be on campus next week to take care of a few things.

There is some talk about setting up auditions soon so that Dr. Pomfrett will know what she has to work with and select an appropriate work. In case you don't know, that is probably the most difficult decision to make . . . choosing the work.

Know this too: the committee that interviewed prospective candidates for the voice-opera position are very pleased with the selection of Dr. Pomfrett. She has excellent ideas, a wonderful personality, and an incredible ability to teach.

Rest easy, opera lovers. You are in good hands.

The trend continues

Andy Smith called today . . . says he's coming back.

Welcome back, Andy!

I'm expecting to hear from Daniel and Kevin tomorrow.

That makes EIGHT returnees from the land of the lost: DELIA, Erin, Sarah, Josh(?), Linc, Jenny Harmon, Jennifer Scivley. I forgot Jenny and Jennifer the last time I made the list--my apologies.

We welcome back these singers and ask that all be committed to choir for two semesters in 2006-2007!

Important Dates for 2006 - 2007

Important Dates for 2006 - 2007

Sunday, August 20
Placement Auditions

Monday, August 21
Music Major Orientation (10:00 a.m. – noon)

Tuesday, August 22
First day of class

Saturday, September 16
Scholars Symposium performance (morning performance TBA)

Sunday, October 15
Church performance

Saturday, October 21
Fall Choir Concert (8:00 p.m.)

Thursday, October 26
ACDA Collegiate Choral Festival

November 3, 5
UAB Opera

Saturday, December 9
Christmas at the Alys, dress rehearsal (7:00 p.m.)

Sunday, December 10
Christmas at the Alys (3:00 p.m.)

January 13
UAB Honor Choir Performance (3:00 p.m.)

January 29
Verdi Requiem Rehearsal (Briarwood Pres., 7:00 p.m.)

January 30
Verdi Requiem Rehearsal, Jemison Concert Hall (7:00 p.m.)

February 1
Verdi Requiem Rehearsal (7:00 p.m.)

February 2
Quink Masterclass (Quink is a professional vocal ensemble)
Verdi Requiem Performance #1 (8:00 p.m.)

February 3
Verdi Requiem Performance #2 (8:00 p.m.)

February 26
ACDA Invitational Choir Festival
(UAB Choral Ensembles perform several times during the day . . . . TBA)

March 5
UAB Concert Choir performance, Miles College (during class time)

March 7 -10
ACDA National Convention (Copeland out)

March 11-17
UAB Spring Break

April 12
UAB Opera

April 20
UAB Choirs Spring Choral Concert (8:00 p.m.)

Placement Auditions 2006

To all those who want to sing in UAB choirs in 2006-2007, I'm informing you that the auditions have been planned. Here is the notification that will go out to everyone that I can think of who needs the information: returning students, new students, former students, yet-to-be-named students.

Link to official letter

The information:

UAB Choral and Vocal Information 2006 - 2007

Get ready for a great year!

There is much to look forward to:

• A fantastic new voice teacher and opera director: Dr. Bonnie Pomfret
• The return of Christmas at the Alys
• Verdi Requiem with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and other college choirs
• New rehearsal times for all choirs

As always, all new and returning vocal students must attend vocal placement auditions. The auditions will occur on Sunday, August 20th on this schedule:

Sunday, August 20 – Hulsey 308
3:00 p.m. All male singers (new and returning)
4:00 p.m. All female singers (new and returning)
7:00 p.m. Choir list posted, call-backs for Chamber Singers posted
7:05 p.m. Call-back Auditions for Chamber Singers

No preparation is necessary. All students who make Concert Choir will receive a letter to alleviate any time conflicts that present a problem during registration.

In previous years, we have spread the auditioning process over two days and it has never been on a Sunday. Circumstances required the compressed Sunday audition: freshman move-in date (Saturday, August 19), Music Major Orientation (Monday morning, August 21), freshman book discussion (Monday afternoon, August 21) and the first day of class (Tuesday, August 22).

Students will need to add all appropriate ensembles to their schedules on Monday, August 21 to avoid drop/add fees. Classes begin on Tuesday, August 22.

This year looks to hold incredible opportunities in performances and travel experiences for all choirs. If you have any questions regarding the audition schedule, please contact Dr. Philip Copeland by email ( or phone (205.335.5353).

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Two updates: American Idol

First update: if you are going to audition, please let Adrian know via email . . . she has some questions for you . . .

Second update: be aware that the UAB Music Department orientation will be Monday, August 21, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. The first day of class (and choir) is August 22.

There looks to be a conflict, folks. I didn't know about any of this until today and Clay's comment alerted me to the problem. Auditions begin at Birmingham at 8:00 on August 21 and music majors are supposed to be at UAB at 10:00 a.m. that same morning.

My advice: don't start out the year on the wrong foot.

Note: Producers expect as many as 100,000 people to try out at each of the audition cities.

How to have it both ways? Audition somewhere else (and Memphis is close).

San Antonio, TX Friday, Aug. 11

East Rutherford, NJ Monday, Aug. 14
Continental Airlines Arena

Birmingham, AL Monday, Aug. 21

Memphis, TN Sunday, Sept. 3

Why is this a good choice? No class on Monday, September 4th. Make it on Sunday, sing again on Monday.

Minneapolis, MN Friday, Sept. 8
Target Center

Seattle, WA
Tuesday, Sept. 19 Key Arena

American Idol?

Got this email today . . . please answer in the comments section of the blog:

Dear Dr. Copeland:
I am doing a story for The Kaleidoscope on American Idol auditions coming to Birmingham. Since you're in charge of the choirs at UAB, I was wondering if you know of any students that are thinking about trying out for the show? Thanks!
Adrian Thurstin
Senior Staff Writer

Shall I compare thee, o purchasing options?

I just found a big price difference on a recording I'm interested in.

I'm searching for recordings of possible literature that I want and I'm very interested in Nils Lindberg's "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day." I looked on Amazon the other day and found this. $18.98 . . . sort of expensive for a CD but it went into the Purchase Cart anyway (for a future purchase.)

This morning, I happened to search on "Shall I" on Itunes . . . . and found the same recording for $9.99 . . . and I can sample it . . . and download immediately.

Which do you think is the most viable business model for the future?

I really love Itunes and I hope they continue developing their classical (especially choir) options. I've done a quick comparison of all the download services and it seems to me that Itunes has the best selection for music that interests me.

As far as the recording, I'm downloading it now. This group's performance of the piece I'm most interested in isn't as good as the recording I already have (but perhaps I judge too soon . . . ) . . . but they do literature by composers I like very much: Lindberg, Mantyjarvi, Orban and Komulainen. I'm not sure who the other composers are (Harris, Applebaum). The group is Chicago a cappella and I really like what I see of their past and present literature.

One of my jobs for Dr. Jordan at Ole Miss was to find the music of composers that I'd never heard of. (what? i had my doctorate and had not heard of a composer?)

Actually, that entire 3-year experience underscored the fact that degrees mean very little . . . or at least . . . that you don't come close to learning everything there is to know when you have an advanced degree.

(somehow, my post morphed from an accolade for Itunes to an examination of what a doctorate doesn't teach you . . . there is much more to say on that subject that I will consider later . . . )

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Singet dem Herrn

A strong possibility for the fall: Bach's Singet dem Herrn.

A nice article here about it.

A recording I downloaded from Itunes tonight.

A score for those interested in looking.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Liberal Christianity

An interesting read from the LA Times.

A couple of quotes:

When a church doesn't take itself seriously, neither do its members. It is hard to believe that as recently as 1960, members of mainline churches — Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and the like — accounted for 40% of all American Protestants. Today, it's more like 12% (17 million out of 135 million). Some of the precipitous decline is due to lower birthrates among the generally blue-state mainliners, but it also is clear that millions of mainline adherents (and especially their children) have simply walked out of the pews never to return.

When your religion says "whatever" on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it's a short step to deciding that one of the things you don't want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Microsoft Word and Citation Features

Just read this blog post about citations and bibliographies and other academic needs. Looks like Microsoft is working hard to fix all the problems I had with my dissertation!

Erin Returns

I haven't spoken with her yet, but Erin's blog says she's a student at UAB again.

Welcome back, girl!

(can you welcome someone back that hasn't actually left?)

Who will be next?

Recent returnees: Linc, Sarah, Josh (?), Erin, Delia (updated - you guys need to remember that some of my postings are made amidst screaming babies and a pleading wife! but, apologies for the occasional error or oversight!)

I don't know about you, but I'm on the lookout for Daniel Carlisle, Andy Smith, and Kevin Beck.

It seems we've lost a great singer to the world . . .

The music world has lost a great singer that I had not heard of until her passing: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. I seem to be the only vocal-choral person on the planet that did not know her, at least from the measure of the blog posts that mourn her passing. I'll be checking into her singing and will most likely download some of her music from Itunes.

She must have been something special, both as a singer and person. They are calling her "a diva that wasn't" and many mention their profound experiences in her concerts. Here's one tribute to her.

I've really been astonished at the response on the blogs that I follow. This person captures it well:
Anyone who ever experienced Hunt Lieberson's magic knows what all the fuss was about. Whether she was singing Mahler's great paean to life and sorrow, Das Lied von der Erde, or some of his fragilely beautiful art songs, the world itself seemed to pause and listen. When she sang Lieberson's Five Rilke Songs at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in 2001, it was as if pearl had been given sound -- a voice, as I wrote then, with a 'rich, violalike lower register and clear upper voice,' one that 'practically spanned a planetary system' in some of the far-reaching melodic lines. And when she embodied a character onstage, as in Ashoka's Dream, it was hard to imagine anyone else ever doing it as well.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Everyone wants to know

Everyone wants to know what music we are doing next year . . . and so do I. It is a question I wrestle with daily, to tell you the truth . . . and not just a 10-15 minute dilemma. I've spent a few hours on it today; it will be the most important decision I make for the upcoming year.

Lots of factors go into the process, some I haven't even thought of yet.

I'll post a partial list of what I'm considering so that I can point to something for all those wondering.

I wouldn't stake my life on this list, but here is one rendition of possibilities for next year:

Pater noster, qui es in coelis - Jacobus Gallus
Venetian Motet Book selections
Singet dem Herrn (Bach)

Jagdlied (Mendelssohn)
Mass in Eb Major (Rheinberger)
Nunc Dimittis (Gustav Holst)
Darthulas Grabesgesang (Brahms)

Warum ist (Brahms)

Ave Maria (Rihard Dubra)
Hiilella piirretyt puut (Pekka Kostiainen)
Sleep (Eric Whitacre)
Ave Maria (Javier Busto)
Auringon noustessa (Toivo Kuula)
Dziedot Dzimu, Dziedot Augu - Alfred Kalnins
Odpiraj, dekle, kamrico - Ambroz Copi
Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day (Nils Linberg)
Walton Music. (8500344)

Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho (Jester Hairston)
My Lord, What a Mornin' (Harry T. Burleigh)
Lord If I Got My Ticket (Shaw-Parker)
Deep River (arr. Norman Luboff)
Joshua Fit de Battle (Norman Luboff)
Cindy (arr. Mack Wilberg)

The Occasional Tech Post

Recording cell phone calls.


The Long Arm of the Blog

I received a wonderful email last week from a gentleman asking me questions about my experience in the Florilege Vocal de Tours festival. He found me through an internet search and left a very kind remark that I wanted to share with you. It is interesting to see the reach our blog has had:

I've enjoyed reading your blog... as someone who has been heavily involved in only one choir (until relatively recently) for a long period of time, it's refreshing for me to get a different perspective and insights from a rare glimpse into the workings of another group - not to mention being reminded that, yes, other choirs have their own ups and downs too. More up than down in your case, I would say... it seems like you have a wonderful group and I have very much enjoyed listening to the occasional clip that you have posted.

Kind regards,
Michael Rosales
General Manager
Quintessential Vocal Ensemble
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

It's also a nice reminder that we need to realize that words we place online are read by hundreds of others. Always be respectful, kind, and professional!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Great City of Birmingham

My search tools picked up this blog and it's author's discussion of cultural opportunities in Birmingham (the author is a former resident of the city).

Read it and discover something new about where you attend college:

It is so obvious, when we go back to Birmingham and visit, that culture is just an everyday part of life. You don’t have to go looking for it: it’s everywhere. Part of that is because you’ve got UAB, Samford, and Birmingham-Southern all in the same town, with UA just a stone’s throw away in Tuscaloosa and Montevallo just down the road too, and each of these schools has an outstanding music department/school of music, plus outstanding drama as well. Add to that the Alabama School of Fine Arts downtown and more world-class church organists and church choirs than any town of any size should be allowed to have, and you get the picture.

(Most people don’t realize this, but Alabama was the first state to have a public television network. Every other state’s public television network is modeled after APT. Public radio went on the air very early in Birmingham, too. WBHM is one of the oldest, and finest, public radio stations in the country.)

I miss the hillly landscape, a lot. I’ve gone on and on before about the restarants I miss, particularly the barbecue places. I miss Five Points South, the Alabama Theatre (and I will not watch “Gone With the Wind” anywhere else!), Vulcan, Burt and Kurt, Rick and Bubba, Parisian, Milo’s, Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale, Grapico, and Pete’s Famous on 4th Avenue. I miss Step Sing, City Stages, and the Greek Festival at Holy Trinity-Holy Cross. I miss James Spann and Brenda Ladun on TV, and I even miss (dare I say it?) Paul Finebaum in the paper. I miss the PAPER, for crying out loud! It’s not one of those Gannett clones, and it actually has CONTENT.

But mostly it’s the music I miss. I miss working with Lee Scott terribly. I miss singing in the most acoustically perfect choir loft I’ve ever been in before or since (Mountain Brook Presbyterian). I miss ASO concerts (mostly Amerigo Marino: Paul Polivnick not so much). Choral Evensong at Cathedral Church of the Advent and IPC. Christmas Eve at the Advent and/or St. Mary’s-on-the-Highlands. The Choir at Temple Emanu-El at the High Holy Days.

I want my children to have access to the kinds of opportunities that I had. Note to self: work on that.

Monday, July 10, 2006

10 Random Thoughts on a Summer's Eve

10 Random Thoughts on a Summer's Evening.

10. I am moved to blog since MBV finally blogged. And she dedicated a post to me. How sweet . . .now . . . if she'd just give me some of that chocolate cake.

9. Welcome to any visitors from the Alabama ACDA Convention who heard my session on Technology today. This is the blog I talked about, and you can visit my student's blogs by clicking on the links to your right. If you visit here enough, you'll get a good view into how special the student's are at UAB.

8. I just remembered that Clay asked me for suggestions for good baritone singers. I've always liked Bryn Terfel and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. This guy seems to have definite opinions, so visit his blog.

7. I've found a great piece of choral music the other day on the Naxos website. Sign up for the free listening opportunity and give a listen to "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day" by Nils Lindberg. It's a great piece of music--sign up for the service and hear the first part of this piece.

6. Sarah Greene said something nice about me to a girl I'm teaching in my music appreciation class this summer. It is nice to hear something like that . . . thanks for the kind words, Sarah. We'll miss you next year.

5. MBV wanted a recommended recording of the Verdi Requiem. Strangely enough, the Naxos website recommended theirs. I found this one at Barnes & Noble website that has some good comments about it. This one gets high marks as well. And finally, the Robert Shaw recording has excellent recommendations.

4. My daughter, Claire, is frightened by the night these days. Her frequent question to me once the bathtime is done: "Daddy, have you eaten all the monsters?" My response is always in the affirmative . . . Leigh told her that she didn't have anything to worry about with monsters becuase I always ate them all. I'll be thinking of her when we sing the Whitacre "Sleep" next year: "If there are noises in the night . . . a frightening shadow . . . flickering light . . . "

3. There is a choir blog here that posts video of their international trip this summer. A great idea, don't you think?

2. An interesting list of 100 great American masterpieces of choral music appears here. How many have you heard of? (scroll down once you get there)

1. I'm a lucky man. Did you really read the whole list?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I Saw the Devil

Wears Prada and I highly recommend it.

Sharp, funny, and it features New York and Paris.

Go see it!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why is it always the music teachers?

(sigh . . . )

Not again:

Ex-Michigan Band Teacher Admits to Sex

A former middle school band teacher admitted she had sexual contact with six male students and entered a guilty plea one day before her trial was scheduled to start. Laura L. Findlay, 32, pleaded guilty Thursday in Saginaw County Circuit Court to 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 16.

No ACDA National Convention This Year

I got the letter today, and we did not get in the ACDA National Convention this year.

It's no big surprise, I didn't think that our application was as strong as it could have been.

Am I disappointed? A little.

Will I get over it? Of course.

So what is there to look forward to?

Verdi Requiem in February.
Europe in the summer.
The best choir yet.

Wisdom from others:

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." (Winston Churchill)

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try -- the result is the same." (Unknown)

And, my favorite:

"Kids, you tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try." (Homer Simpson)

Monday, July 03, 2006

New Directions

I've told some, but not all. This is how I envision structuring the UAB Choir Classes next year:

UAB Women's Chorale
UAB Concert Choir
UAB Chamber Singers

No big change, right?

Here is what those three classes will harbor:

UAB Concert Choir: SATB choir, no change from what we have been doing. The class is now scheduled to meet M-Tu-Wed-Th-Fr. Total class time is reduced from 360 minutes to 300. The class on Friday will sometimes be mixed (SATB), sometimes men (TTBB) and sometimes women (SSAA). This will allow us both scheduled sectional time and time to work as a mens/women's choir.

UAB Women's Chorale: Made up of all women from Concert Choir and Women's Chorale. All women will learn the same music, rehearse occasionally, and perform as one. (40-60 women). I think we will have increased participation for this group. UPDATE. To clarify, the Women's Chorale class will meet MWF from 3-3:50. Women from the Concert Choir will learn their music in the Concert Choir class period and rehearse occasionally with the Women's Chorale, probably in the Concert Choir class time from 2:00-2:50 on occasional Friday's.

UAB Men's Choir: All men from the Concert Choir will occasionally rehearse together and will sing 4-6 part men's choir music.

UAB Chamber Singers: I will be directing this group this year and the literature will be 50% classical.

UAB Jazz Choir (It needs a name--BLAZE?): For the other 50% of the time, the Chamber Singers will perform unaccompanied vocal jazz music. I plan on taking this group (20 in number) around to the schools to help in recruiting.

So, from three classes we will form 5 choirs. In doing so, we will expose our students (you) to a vast array of music and have more opportunity for student conductors, leadership in sectionals, and a more varied offering on our fall, Christmas and spring concerts.

In future years, I expect both the Women's and Men's choirs to perform at Southern Regional and National ACDA conventions.

In other news, no mail arrived at my home from the ACDA National office. That means that we still don't know if we've made it to the National Convention this year. I hope we have, but we've got the Verdi Requiem in our plans if we don't.

Other choirs slated to do the Verdi:

Birmingham Concert Chorale, Samford University A Capella Choir, University of Alabama at Birmingham Concert Choir, University of Alabama University Singers, Birmingham-Southern College Concert Choir, University of Montevallo Concert Choir

I'm excited.

Bach Motets: Evidence for Performing Unaccompanied

I'm considering performing a Bach Motet next year. One of the considerations for performing one of the Bach motets is whether to use accompaniment. There has been significant scholarly disagreement over the matter, and I'm wondering what recent research there is on the subject. I found this today on a website by Thomas Braatz. I'm posting it here for future reference and for your elucidation.
Indeed, the parts for "Jesu meine Freude" are not by Bach. Moreover, recent research has determined:

1) the singing of Bach's motets a cappella is not a romantic-style innovation of a later period than Bach, but rather can be documented as the manner of performance of some of these motets (a carrying on of the tradition that was already established under Bach?) under the cantorship of Johann Friedrich Doles who conducted/performed these motets in this fashion at St. Thomas Church from 1756 to 1789.

2) new evidence that some of Bach's motets, such as this one, were very likely performed a cappella without colla parte instrumental accompaniment or bc

In Klaus Hofmann's new book, "Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Motetten" [Bärenreiter, 2003] pp. 55 ff., the following evidence is presented:

1. in 1761 and in 1764, the music catalogs of printed works available from the publisher Breitkopf in Leipzig offered copies of Bach's motets in the category "Motets - without instruments"

2. the music theoretician, Johann Adoph Scheibe (1708-1776) (his father, Johann Scheibe, an organ builder was very highly regarded by Bach) is the infamous critic of Bach's music in the Birnbaum-Scheibe controversy. To consider his attitude toward Bach to be entirely critical would be unfair since he was also one of the very first to praise in print Bach's 'Italian Concerto.' Scheibe was encouraged by Telemann to publish a periodical, "Der Critische Musicus" ("The critical Musician"). From a reprint of an issue of this periodical dating from 1737 [Hamburg - he had just recently moved from Leipzig (where he had had most of his schooling including some time at the University of Leipzig, until his father's organ building firm went bankrupt)] but reprinted in Leipzig in 1745(facsimile Hildesheim, Wiesbaden, 1970) pp. 181 ff., Scheibe comments on the actual motet performance practices he had experienced in Leipzig:
>>Der Generalbaß sollte zwar allezeit dabey sein; allein, man kann ihn selten gebrauchen, weil die meisten Motetten nur von einem Chore Sänger aufgeführet werden, es müßten denn andere Instrumente mehr dabey seyn, oder man müßte sie bey gewissen Gelegenheiten in der Kirche aufführen.<<

Klaus Hofmann interprets this passage to read: "In reality, a basso continuo ought to be part of this ensemble, but the general performance practice/tradition rarely makes use of this option, because most motets are performed only with voices. It is, however, an entirely different matter if more instruments (beyond the colla parte and bc accompaniment) are used, or when the motets are performed in the church on very special occasions." Klaus Hofmann also extrapolates from this passage the fact that a cappella performances must have been common practice under Bach's tenure in the 1730s.

3. there is no record of any original instrumental parts for "Jesu meine Freude" as ever having existed at any point during Bach's lifetime.

Johann Adolph Scheibe, who participated in the singing of motets under Bach's direction (1723), listened carefully and experienced the exhilarating joy of performing these works as a 15-yr. old student stated later in the reference given above (pp. 179 ff.): "Eine geistliche Moetette, wenn sie in ihrer völligen Stärke genommen wird, verursachet eine außerordentliche Fröhlichkeit des Herzens; sie machet uns munter und doch bedachtsam; sie erhebet das Gemüthe zur Betrachtung." ["A sacred motet, when performed at full strength in numbers (not OVPP but at least 3 or 4 per part), creates an extraordinary joyfulness in our hearts, it awakens us while, at the same time makes us move forward cautiously; it uplifts our spirits to become {more} contemplative."]

Happiest day of my life

Happiest day
Originally uploaded by philipco.
I can't remember if I've ever posted this picture on my blog . . . this was truly the happiest day of my life. I thought I had lost the picture in a computer crash a few months ago and I was glad to find it tonight.

Behind the mask I'm wearing the biggest smile I've ever had. I still remember how small those little bundles felt in my arms and how surreal the entire experience was.

Leigh and I took those little 4 pound bundles (now about 30 lbs.) to their first movie tonight (Cars . . . a great movie) and we made it all the way to the end. This was actually our second attempt at movie-going but we found success tonight.
This summer's night I'm enjoying Roderick Williams (accompanied by Iain Burnside) sing Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel, a very fine and inexpensive CD, especially on Itunes. Amazon has it, also.

I'm moved once again by these beautiful words. If I die tonight, please have them sung at my funeral:

Bright is the ring of words
When the right man rings them,
Fair the fall of songs
When the singer sings them.
Still they are carolled and said --
On wings they are carried --
After the singer is dead
And the maker buried.

Low as the singer lies
In the field of heather,
Songs of his fashion bring
The swains together.
And when the west is red
With the sunset embers,
The lover lingers and sings
And the maid remembers.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Welcome, Katie Elizabeth

Everyone, welcome Katie Elizabeth to UAB. She's got a blog, but it isn't open to everyone.

I think she'll do well here, even though she doesn't like Renee Fleming.

We welcome her anyway, and hope that she lets us read about her one day!


Here it is, the middle of summer . . . and three students (defining the word students loosely) blogged.

Here is the first: Erin expresses some remorse for going to a lesser school next year.

In the second, Katie displays another picture of Johnny Depp. I'm not sure why she has a fixation with him. Don't miss this quality post from Katie.

And finally, a future student (unless something changes) blogs about how to write a college paper.

To this music professor, it looks like there are some pretty bored people this summer.

In other news, no word on ACDA yet. I have been officially notified that "the letter is in the mail," but it did not arrive today. I realized today that I really wanted to do the ACDA national convention . . . if not this time, then the next!