Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sing, Sing, Sing!

Yesterday was just another manic Monday. After a full day at work, I jumped into Rosie Pro and drove to another school in the district for a VAPA meeting, stopping at Safeway along the way because everyone with last names A-M was asked to bring something to munch on.

I arrived at the very large campus a few minutes before 4:00, and set off to find the VAPA room. I asked several people for directions and finally, sweaty and breathing a little heavy, found it.

It was closed, locked and there was definitely no one home.

I found one of the ladies who had given me directions and said, "The email said Hoover Elementary!"

"Oh! This is Caldwell! Hoover is next door."

Yep...two campuses...both K-8, separated by nothing more than a long fire lane, which I walked the entire lenghth of, looking for an entrance.

I arrived at my meeting about fifteen minutes late, and apologized to the lady in charge. She got a smile on her face and I said, "Two schools!" She just laughed.

The meeting let out at 5:30, and I was off. I had to be in downtown Stockton (not too far away, but I didn't want to take any chances) by 6:00 to try out for the Stockton Chorale. Rehearsals are every Monday night at St. John's Anglican Church.

Promptly at 6:00, the conductor, one Dr. Edward Cetto of University of the Pacific, met a small handful of us who were waiting to audition. He took us into the church itself, and I volunteered to sing first.

Ted (that's what everyone calls him) looked at my audition sheet and made a couple of, "Oh!" and "Nice!" noises as he read about my musical background. I told him I just moved to Stockton to take a teaching job and had found, quite by chance, the Stockton Chorale web site. He asked what part I like to sing and I told him I'm pretty happy to sing soprano or alto, and that, in the past, different directors have put me in alto because I can hold a part, or soprano to work on my head voice.

I sang for him for maybe five minutes, after which he said, "Well, you're in like flint!" This made me giggle with relief. He decided to put me in the Soprano 2 section, because he likes my higher range.

He sent me to give my audition form to a lady in the rehearsal room. I was given rehearsal and concert schedules, some necessary information, and shown to the soprano section. I still had about 45 minutes to kill before rehearsal, so I slipped outside to call Mom and Dad (Dad said, "I had no doubt you'd make it, with your background!"), and then I went back inside to sit and relax for a bit.

I can't begin to say how NICE everyone is! Several people made a point of introducing themselves and asking me about myself. There are people of all ages in the group, and many of them have been in the Chorale for years. There is tremendous enthusiasm for the music, the director, and the group as a whole. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

We got started at 7:00, doing a quick warm-up. Warm-ups are a good time to get a feel for a group. I'd read a bit on the web site about the group, and knew from the audition process that we are expected to be able to learn quickly. Still, I had no idea what the group was actually going to sound like until we all opened our mouths to sing.

All I can say is, "Wow." This is a group of strong voices and high ability. As the rehearsal went on, I noticed that everyone picks the music up quickly--and we're not doing easy music! Some of the harmonies are very difficult, as we are doing 20th Century settings of old Latin texts. There was, of course, time spent tuning little things. There are a lot of "close" harmonies, meaning two sections (most often the tenors and altos) singing notes that are very close, but not the same. It can be very hard for two sections to hold these harmonies, and thus keep the chord true. This group can do it--on the first night of rehearsal!

Needless to say, I'm excited. : ) I have a group to sing with, plenty of performance opportunities (we have four concerts this semester alone), and the music is exciting and challenging.

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