Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween 2006

Show and Tell:

Caroline and Uncle Russell:

October 2006 145

Claire and Friend:

October 2006 144

Catherine Enthralled with Halloween:

October 2006 143

Neighborhood Ghost:

October 2006 137

Friday, October 27, 2006

Company Choirs in Other Nations

Read about it here.

An excerpt:

“It’s well known that Estonians love to sing. Quite a big percentage of Estonians sing in choirs. We have one million people here, and 33,000 are in choirs. Every four years at the song festival, we have 150,000 people there for the celebration.” The Baltic nations are marked by song. They demonstrated their desire for independence by gathering to sing the prohibited national songs, their own special form of non-violent resistance.

In the decades prior to the Singing Revolution, Estonians undertook similar protests each week in the offices and factories in which they worked. By coming together as a choir, they circumvented the laws which banned public demonstrations and political gatherings, and hid their message of discontent within the songsheets they passed around. “The company choir is something from the Soviet times, because in those days almost all factories and offices had a choir or at least an ensemble,” explains Tanner, “It was almost compulsory to join. But it was also popular. After work, people had nothing to do. There was no shopping, you couldn’t go abroad, but after work you had to do something. So it became very popular to gather in choirs.

“It was one of the few possibilities for people to meet each other, because other organized meetings were suspicious. But the choir was a legal form of gathering, and it was also a kind of protest. After the required communist songs, we could sing our own songs.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


The sustained applause felt good, didn't it?

Seeing the choir in the balcony rooting for us was wonderful, wasn't it?

I was very pleased with today. It wasn't a perfect performance, but it had heart . . . it had spirit . . . it had passion. We were not, in the words of John Dickson, just another boring choir. We sang with soul. It seemed to me that you felt the way that one should feel when they sing great music and the audience responded the way they are supposed to respond when they see a group of people aggressively pursue their art. Congratulations.

Some random positive notes:
  • I'll have to watch it when I get inspired before an already inspired choir--the result can trend towards overwhelming!
  • I would swear that some of you mirrored my stance on the women's "Sicut erat" music in the Nunc Dimmittis. I gave you powerful looks and you responded with your own powerful looks! Congratulations, I thought you really stepped up in passionate singing.
  • Joshua was fabulous. Soloists did a great job and I think Tyler sings a great tenor solo.
  • Nunc had some great moments. Opening page had some exquisite sounds and beautifully pure singing. At times, I wanted to just stop and say "wow, it really sounds great in here."
Other notes:
  • I agreed with some of what Dr. Baird said; we oversang in places. I also disagreed with her about some things, especially in regards to Nunc being an introspective work. It is in places, but quite extroverted and dynamic in sections.
  • Opening chord of Kyrie didn't settle. We must listen to pitch, think our note, sing with presence. That hadn't happened before--I think it was because we were having trouble containing our excitement after Nunc.
  • I heard some women singing occasional notes sharp, especially when switching to higher sounds (head voice). We must be able to control every note
Overall, I would score you extremely high on passion and excitement. You sang like a motivated choir today and it was impressive. On the actual substance of our technique I would say "very good." Our passion and excitement got the best of us at times; we'll learn to focus that energy in other ways.

I'm a lucky man, I get to keep directing you. I'm a lucky man, we'll continue to get better. I'm a lucky man, we can take a day off tomorrow. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Random thoughts on a Wednesday latenite:

1. I fear for my Table PC. Something loud happens from time to time underneath the keyboard of the notebook computer. That can't be good, can it?

2. A vacationing family makes for a quiet house. I'd rather it be full of my wife and kids.

3. I have "Jauchzet dem Herrn" ready for tomorrow--that's the mass choir piece. If you've sung it with me before, I'm going to designate you the small ensemble from our choir. That means you'll sing the 8-part divided section on p. 3. If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it.

4. No choir on Friday.

5. More later.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Collegiate Choral Festival 2006

I've made a change in our programming, believing that this repertoire will be our best foot forward:

Nunc dimittis No. 2
Vytautas Miškinis
b. 1954

Kyrie, from Mass in Eb Major
Josef Rheinberger

arr. Norman Luboff

REMINDERS: The festival is at Canterbury Methodist this year. Directions are here in this previous post.

Here's the schedule. All are required to be there for the first choir.

Warm-Up (In Chapel)

Performance (In Sanctuary)

9:35 – 10:00

Wallace State

10:00 – 10:25


Wallace State

10:25 – 10:50

Jefferson State


10:50 – 11:15


Jefferson State

11:15 – 11:40



11:40 – 1:10

12:50 – 1:15


1:15 – 1:40



1:40 – 2:05



2:05 – 2:30



2:30 – 2:55

Jacksonville State


2:55 – 3:20

Jacksonville State


3:20 – 4:00

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Spread the word . . .

No choir rehearsal tomorrow. Nothing. Nada.

To be specific:

No Concert Choir.
No Women's Chorale.
No Chamber Choir.

You've earned a day off; enjoy it!


Dr. Reynolds left this word to us on my cell phone:

It was a gutsy program for October that you pulled off with great finesse.

What a nice thing to say! Thanks, Dr. Reynolds for your kind words and great support.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

We did it. Congratulations, everyone!

I was extremely pleased with tonight. As a whole, I think that it was one of the most impressive concerts we've given in my time at UAB. My early thoughts:

1. Men's Choir: Fantastic. Charles Henry did a tremendous job working with the men on Brother's Sing On. I heard the piece for the first time tonight, actually, but I never was worried because I have that kind of trust in Charles and saw the confidence the men had in him. "God Be In My Head" was terrific and I was the weakest link. Congratulations, men, for an outstanding performance.

2. Women's Choir: all three pieces went extremely well. Processional worked very well, way to go on the solos, girls. On Examine Me, The B-choir (formerly the "ah" choir) did their best job yet with the sustained notes. The women on the words held pitch extremely well; it was our best performance of that piece that we've done. Way to go. The last work was very different from the previous two--a great contrasting piece. You sounded like WOMEN and Sarah did a terrific job.

3. Concert Choir: Way to go. Nunc, except for the solid "K" on the very first sound, was outstanding. ('fess up--who thought we were starting with Kyrie?) I heard sustained applause for the first piece--it is a superb opener. Kyrie went well. The Bach piece had two issues and TEMPO was one. I was afraid that piece was going to run away but we held it together. Second sopranos gave me a scare near the beginning but recovered nicely.

4. Chamber Choir: very good singing. I didn't get to prepare you well prior to the concert; I'll try to do a better job of that next time. Great job to Jackie on "David" and hat's off to Maggie for "There Will Never." That piece was really kicking at the end.

5. Deep River--very fine but we can do that piece better. Lauren was wonderful. Once again, I didn't go over Joshua and I don't deserve for that piece to go as well as it goes without any rehearsal. That says alot for our quality work on it back in August, eh?

Overall thought: Great Success. Dividing the concert choir into different choirs had some bumps along the way, but we pulled it off. We'll do things a little differently next time and do even better. Way to go singers. Thank you to the seniors and other leaders. A special thanks to Charles and Ms. Dale Reynolds and my great friend Dr. Denise Gainey.

I'm a lucky man.

Cajun food in Birmingham

I grew up in Natchez, MS . . . right across the river from Louisiana, where the world is different. At the time, I didn't realize how influenced I was by the Cajun flavors in food. There aren't many places to find Cajun food in Birmingham, I've discovered.

We found some fantastic Red Beans & Rice last night at Jubilee Joe's, right off I459 at the Hwy 150 exit. There's a review here. We got gumbo and the redbeans, and we both thought that the bean dish was one of the best we'd ever had. Highly recommended.

Why is this appearing on my choir blog? I don't know. Maybe it's the need to tell my students about something I like or a place in Birmingham that they may not know about. I'm resisting the urge to make a joke about another possible relation between singing and beans.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Creativity Applauded Here


New Church Position Opening, Highlands Methodist

From Rick Philips, Highlands Methodist

Dear Friends:

I have several choir openings in my church choir at Highlands United Methodist Church. The responsibilities are Wednesday night rehearsals from 6:30 -8:30 p.m. and one service on Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. The pay scale is $30.00 a rehearsal and $30.00 a service. If you have anyone you could recommend, please send me their name and phone number and I will be happy to contact them. Or if you wish, give them my name and phone number. My cell number is 910-3540 and the church number is 933-8751. Hope all of you are doing well. Thank you for your help.

Rick Phillips

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sickness attacks next Copeland

Well, the second child and third member of the Copeland household just came down with the latest bug circling Birmingham. It started with Catherine, moved to wife Leigh, and now lies with Claire.

Caroline and I, with the superior O negative blood, have resisted the latest plague.

Or does our fate lie waiting, about 2:30 into our incredible performance of Bach's first motet?

Sadness is just another word for . . .

Don't miss today's dilbert.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Movement notes, upcoming concert

Movement notes for upcoming choir concert:

1. Men will gather in the Hulsey and enter stage from Stage Right.

2. Women will line up in the back of the ASC, taking care to leave enough room for . They will come down both aisles of the lower level to take the stage, coming down two-by two in both aisles singing “Cantate Alleluia.”

3. In the middle of the women’s set, Charles and Andrew will be in charge of moving the piano on to the stage for the women's 3rd piece with open lid facing women and Dr. Gainey's stand behind keyboard.

4. After last song, Women's Choir will exit the stage STAGE RIGHT and sit in that dress circle.

5. Charles/Andrew will flip piano (reverse it) for Dr. Pomfret's set.

6. After Dr. Pomfret’s set, Concert Choir will gather and line up in the lower lobby. Women will go to lower lobby via backstage, not crossing in front.

7. Concert Choir will enter from STAGE LEFT and sing their first set.

8. Chamber Choir will peel down after Concert Choir set; Concert Choir will exit to Dress Circle STAGE LEFT.

9. After Chamber set, Concert Choir will join Chamber Choir on stage by getting on risers first, chamber will get in places once choir is set on risers.

College of Charleston singing here Nov. 7

On Tuesday, November 7th the College of Charleston will be presenting a concert at South Highland Presbyterian Church at 7:30 p.m.

If possible, I'd like you to attend and it's likely that I'll give you a forgiveness or two on tardies if you show up.

Please, do your best at promoting their concert as well as ours on Saturday!

Their program:

C of C Concert Choir Repertoire
Fall 2006

Praise to the Father in Heaven

Prayer to the Father of Heaven
Ralph Vaughan Williams

David Maves

The Gentlest Thing
Trevor Weston

Two Sayings form the Tao in the Form of a Scherzo
David Maves

English secular selections -
C of C Madrigal Singers

Three songs from Chanson Francaise
Francis Poulenc

1. Margoton va t'a l'iau
2. La Belle se sied au pied de la tour
3. Pilons l'orge

I'm gonna move when the spirit moves in my heart
Moses Hogan

What Wondrous Love is This?

Steal Away

Hark! I Hear the Voice Eternal
Parker Shaw

Act Like Who You Want to Be

One word of advice I give to people is the phrase "act like who you want to be." I'm not sure who gave me that phrase, but it is likely that it was Dr. Jordan. I know that it was not original with him, but it is a concept that I wholeheartedly believe in. (and yes, i realize i just ended a sentence with a preposition)

I have found that if you "act like the person you want to be" you eventually become that person. Act happy, you become happy; act confident, find confidence.

Scott Adams (Dilbert creator) has written on a closely related concept in his blog today. He is a believer in affirmations . . . you can read about it on his blog.

The simple plan:

The idea behind affirmations is that you simply write down your goals 15 times a day and somehow, as if by magic, coincidences start to build until you achieve your objective against all odds.

Check it out.

"Think about the words!"

From another choir blog. Jonathan Miller was working with the DePaul acapella ensemble this week in preparation for their concert. Here are some of his reflections on his coaching session. (read more here)

I was struck afterward by what found myself repeatedly saying: "Think about the words! Think about the feeling! What are you singing about? What is the style that you are trying to express here?" Sometimes as a coach I get hung up on tuning or vowel matching, but this session felt like it was all about style. It was the first time I felt like I understood first-hand an comment I had first heard about three years ago, a comment at which I had first bristled. The charge was something like this: "Young American singers are not very adept at distinguishing one musical style from another in their singing." In other words, our aspirants sing most things pretty much the same. Ouch.

I think there are three keys to success in our upcoming concert, besides repetition on the Bach:

1. Execution: We have repeatedly rehearsed the exact right thing to do. It is now up to the choir members to do it--to fully engage their minds and perform at an optimum level.

2. Meaning: Let the words of the text and nuances of the musical composition infect you with their full meaning. Once you embrace the whole of the composition, put everything you have into making it understood by our audience.

3. Mastery: We are strong as a choir but weak as individuals. Each weak individual must master the notes they do not know and watch the director. I was very surprised that there were those that had to look at the music on pieces they know on Saturday evening. Every individual must shore up their part and make our strong choir even stronger.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New things

Ashley Arrington told me about her blog the other day and wanted me to share the news here.

I hear that there is some other news about Ashley and someone but I try to stay out of that kind of thing.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

It made me spill my coffee

This is funny.

I found it on digg.com, a place where you can always find links to incredibly interesting websites. This link goes to a recording of a recording between a hilarious man and Mike, the telemarketer.

Enjoy this manipulation of a telemarketer.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Psalm 103

I found one of my favorite psalms on The Daily Psalm today. My favorite verses: 2-4, 10. I'm one that has experienced the three promises found in 3-4.

3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This proves it: I'm Cool

From the wonderful ability granted by Google Blog Search I give you:

a report from Stetson Honor Choir.

It seems that I am cool . . . and have a funny accent . . . .

And, I've probably freaked a young Deland (Florida) HS Senior out by posting on her LiveJournal.

Three proverbs

Three proverbs for today, friends:
  • A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
  • Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
  • There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Frustrations pass, friends. Speaking while you are frustrated can cause a lot of pain and ruin friendships.

Blogs and facebooks and myspace's can be tools for great fun and communication but they are also dangerous: they preserve your words and magnify your feelings. I try to be careful with my blog and use it to promote good things and not bad . . . life is much better that way. If you need to work out your frustrations by writing, by all means, do it! But why tell everyone and stir up strife?

Quote from T. Roosevelt

Our pastor had a great sermon Sunday--just a great service overall. He had this quote by Theodore Roosevelt in the bulletin:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

The words really spoke to me then . . . maybe they will mean something to you.

Catching up . . .

Some things I've meant to do:

1. Announce Linc's blog. Here it is!

2. Announce Meredith's fundraising ideas:

a) Cow Patty Bingo - We sell 8 inch squares and where ever the cow poops that person wins a prize.
b) Applebee's Breakfast - We reserve the resturant for one Saturday morning and sell the tickets for $5. For each person that shows up that morning to eat, we pay the resturant 25 cents.
c) Credit Card Sign ups - All we have to do is get people to sign up, they don't have to actually open an account. I'm not exactly sure how much we could make off of this, but its worth a shot.

What else is hiding behind that quiet exterior?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Drudge Influence

A fascinating read.

Random Bits: Dresses, Worship Service, Friday

A couple of updates:

1. Sample Dresses have been ordered from the three that you've seen. I ordered a 6 and a 16/18 in all three of the dresses to get a sense of how they looked on different body types. Volunteers for models needed.

2. Upcoming performance for Concert Choir during mass of St. Paul's Cathedral on Saturday, October 14. Worship service is at 5:00 p.m. I'll need you there at 3:45 dressed. We will rehearse there on Friday, October 13th during rehearsal time. Map to the church. Practice driving there before that day. We'll sing from this group of literature in the service:

Singet Dem Herrn
Johann Sebastian Bach

Kyrie, from Mass in Eb Major
Josef Rheinberger

Nunc dimittis No. 2
Vytautas Miškinis
b. 1954

Ave Maria
Javier Busto
b. 1949

Deep River
Arr. Norman Luboff

arr. Norman Luboff

3. No choir rehearsal (WC or CC) this Friday. I'm out of town, at Stetson University conducting an Honors Choir event. My contact tells me I'll be conducting a choir of 313. A hundred are men, and 213 women. Yikes. There will be another honors choir happening at the same time conducted by Craig Jessop, who directs the Morman Tabernacle Choir. I'm looking forward to meeting him.

The program, in case you care:

"Let All the People Praise Thee O God" (Mathias)
"There Shall A Star Come Out of Jacob" (Mendelssohn)
"There is a Time" (Courtney)
"Same Train" (arr. Robert Shaw)
"Domaredansen" (Bengt Hallberg, Walton SK-102)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hear Mozart Solemn Vespers again

Another Birmingham Choir is performing the same Mozart Solemn Vespers that we did. It should be a great concert.

Sunday, October 15, 2006
at 4 pm at the
Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Here's the email I got:

Hi Folks,
Attached is a poster for a Mozart Concert that I’m co-oping with Mike Meek’s group, Cahaba Chorale. Most of you know Mike from his days at Montevallo or before when he was an excellent choral musician in the Jefferson County system. Anyhow, the concert is going to be really good. We’re doing the Solemn Vespers, the Regina Coeli K 276 as well as Ave Verum. A special treat will be rising soprano star Arietha Franklin who, in addition to solo/quartet work in the above will be doing the Exultate Jubilate. Anyhow, pleas post for your students and come if you can. The church is located at 1912 Canyon Road in Vestavia. That’s one block west of US31 right behind PUBLIX.
All the best,
Mike Sparks
Organist/Choirmaster - Church of the Ascension
Director – Concert Choir – Wallace State, Hanceville

Monday, October 02, 2006