Wednesday, February 24, 2010


UAB Concert Choir Members:

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rooming list

Cute comments on the previous rooming list.

I'm ready to finalize it for the hotel. Here is the list.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sectionals suspended

We are making good progress on everything. I'm now suspending sectionals for the time being - let me know if your sectional needs individual help.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Much to learn

There is much we can learn from this choir and this performance:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Almighty and Everlasting God`

There is a problem with this video - do you know what it is?

Still - a great model and video.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are we an ADD choir?

Just for the heck of it, I looked up the official symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. This is where I looked and this is what I found (verbatim):
Inattention symptoms:

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork
  • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork)
  • Often loses toys, assignments, pencils, books, or tools needed for tasks or activities
  • Easily distracted
  • Often forgetful in daily activities

  • What do you think? Any of that ring true?

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Droning about the drone

    I found this little essay about singing chant against a drone line - and I really like it:

    The Drone

    Not all European chant was meant to be sung against a drone. A drone is a single note, usually the “base” note of the scale (the "do") or the fifth step up from the base note, held for the duration of the piece or until the mode changes.

    Although you could sing Gregorian chant against a drone, it wasn’t really done that way. Hildegard’s chants (she lived from 1098-1179, by the way) are often sung against a drone. A lot of Celtic music (chants included) are performed against a drone.

    Something amazing happens when you provide a drone. A drone builds a kind of foundation upon which the other notes depend. Sometimes the drone provides a rudimentary harmony, at other times a dissonance. But there is a kind of homing sensation about it. You feel the tension created by the changing notes and look forward to the resolution when the melody note matches the drone. The same thing continues to hold true in modern music; you wait for the root chord (the base note's chord) of the scale of the piece to know that the piece is finished.

    As a singer, performing against a drone provides a real sense of time and space that I have never experienced with any other kind of music. I become more aware of the personal space that I occupy--my own size and shape--and the size and shape of the space or room in which I stand. I am more aware of my breathing, and of how much breath I spend when I sing, of the sounds coming from the room itself, of any sounds outside the room. I slow down, and really get the point of the chant, really feel it in my body, hear from the space when the notes should change to make the meaning clear. I become part of the chant, and the chant becomes part of me.

    I had a conductor (David Babbitt of the San Francisco Bach Choir) who said that chant is like a garden hose. Since humans began to vocalize, someone somewhere has chanted. If you take a moment and breathe quietly in the space where you are, you can feel when it’s your turn to come in. Chant is passed along through time and space from person to person, like water through a garden hose. For me, the drone helps my hectic modern mind connect to the hose of history and the future and take my turn.

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    Program Notes - ACDA 2010 performance

    I worked on program notes for our upcoming ACDA performance that you can look at here.

    I was surprised that I was able to find Liber usualis chants hit our concert at the beginning, middle, and ending . . . that made me pretty happy.

    I've also been corresponding with composer Cecilia McDowall today - we talked a little about the Regina caeli and I found the original plainchant in the Liber usualis and sent it to her after her first email.

    Early email:

    I remember looking at Regina caeli plainchant before writing the motet and something of that footprint stayed with me, only speeded up! The Alleluia’s seemed opportunities for contemplation after the faster passages and each harmonic shift downwards allowed for a return to the opening statement as the climax of the work without pushing the soprano line higher.

    Later email:

    Dear Philip,

    Wow, you are most impressively on the case!

    Thank you for the Liber usualis download. Looking back, I can’t be certain of how I thought about the writing of Regina caeli; nothing literal from the plainchant, more a feel of the stepwise shape of the chant phrasing, I think.

    You raise an interesting point about the ending. A final, plangent conclusion could indeed bring the work to a resounding close and yet I wanted something which might be a little subtle, something which could melt into a big acoustic of, say, our larger cathedrals or College Chapels, something to slip away into the distance. Not an apologetic ending, more one that might just bring the listener back to a mood of meditation.

    I worked some of her comments into the program notes. Let me know what you think.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Choir Cancelled. Snow induces mass hysteria.

    Choir is canceled for Friday, February 12, 2009.

    Snow has induced mass hysteria:

    Snow Won't Stop Us

    Snow won't stop rehearsal today unless it shuts down the University.

    And President Carol Garrison
    doesn't sound like she will shut down the university.

    Meet Catherine's Dad

    We had "Donuts for Dad" in Catherine's class this morning. I was greeted with this picture of myself and a little information that Catherine supplied. If you look close at the bottom, you'll see that "the neatest thing we've ever done" was "haveing a dat with daddy."

    How sweet is that?photo


    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Congrats to B. and L.

    Congratulations to Brianna Moore for her first place award in the 2010 UAB Talent Search that was heldd Tuesday night at the Alys Stephens Center. I understand that her rendition of Etta James' "At Last" received thunderous applause and loud cheers.

    And congrats also to Lindsay Warner for her 3rd place award in the same competition.

    It's about time everyone realized where true beauty and talent resided on the UAB campus!

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Thursday, February 04, 2010

    Choir director needed

    Got this email today:

    May be some of UAB teachers or students will be

    OLA -catholic church /1728 Oxmoor Rd, Homewood. Cross
    from the Homewood library/ have open position: Director of Adult
    Choir. It's a good paying job for educated, talanted. dedicated,
    responsible person. Need min. bachelors degree in choir conducting,
    friendly personality, high spirited and motivated to do this job.

    Please apply by sending your letter to or call for
    more imformation: 981-2773/533-4802, Alexandra Naylor -OLS music
    director. Thank you!

    Topic Sign Up


    Here is the link to the topics we selected.

    Here is the link to PBWorks.

    I'll be adding the "individual" workers to the wiki.

    Presentation from today: