Monday, December 15, 2008

Last 2008 rehearsal...

If you haven't yet, check out our website here to check out more information about our concert on March 1. Featuring James MacMillan's Cantos Sagrados and Gustav Holst's Hymn of Jesus, it's going to be awesome-- and as usual, you can be guaranteed not to hear this kind of thing anywhere else in town.

Last night we dug out Holst's Hymn quite a bit. I've never sung this-- I don't think anyone in the group has-- and it's an odd and complicated but ultimately (I can tell) glorious piece. We're back in the double chorus formation that became so familiar when we sang Poulenc's Figure Humaine in November. There's also a semichorus of three-part treble voices-- on that, we're going to be joined by a group from the Boston City Singers, a local children's chorus. So in rehearsal at this early stage the piece can seem sort of fractured as the three groups listen to each other and learn their music. In the end, though, it's going to wonderful. The piece is written on Apocryphal Gospels with mystical texts, and the mysticism is all over the music too.

Next week, we're having our Christmas party, which is awesome, but about as Christmasy as Coro gets. If you're craving Christmas choral music, be sure to check out the GBCC events site. There are still lots of cool concerts going on to get you in the spirit.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yay for Connecticut!

Just a quick note to celebrate Connecticut's legalization of marriage equality. The state Supreme Court handed the ruling down today, and I just read it here

Like the blogger says, 3 down, 47 to go! And with every state, Coro has something new to sing about.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekend wrap-up, and federal arts funding.

Well, this weekend Coro held its retreat, where we worked like crazy on Figure humaine, which continues to be a gigantic challenge. Now that it's coming together, though, I can hear how all the tonalities really are meant to sound, and I can tell you  all truthfully that this concert is going to be TREMENDOUS. This piece is so worth the effort.

The retreat also featured our usual awesome potluck-- props to all the rocking Coro cooks on that one-- and the annual meeting, at which new singing board members were elected. Singing members serve one-year terms, and are meant to bring the voice of the singers (so to speak) to the board members at the monthly meetings and on the various committees. The new singing members this go-around happen to be a nicely balanced SATB group: Alicia Boisnier, Paul Lewis, Bob Henry, and Megan Weireter (that's actually me).

One issue the board continually grapples with is funding, and since funding for the arts might be on a lot of people's minds these days, I wanted to pass along this link courtesy of the Arts Action Fund. They've summarized the two major presidential candidates' positions and histories on arts funding in a useful chart, with links to primary sources. Definitely worth your while if this matters to you-- and if you care about Coro and the music world in general, it should!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Eluard reading Liberté

Poulenc wrote Figure humaine on the poetry of Paul Eluard, a surrealist poet and all-around interesting and frequently (it seems) miserable guy. I'd always known him most infamously as the guy whose wife left him for Salvador Dali. But I've been reading more about him and his work; his poems in Figure humaine are tremendous, most especially Liberte, an over-the-top, extremely moving litany. The RAF dropped thousands of copies of this poem over occupied France during World War II.

Especially if you have any degree of French fluency, you'll want to check out this recording of Eluard reading his poem.

It's really no wonder Poulenc was inspired to set this one to music. This poem is the text of the eighth movement of Figure humaine, and it just makes for an unforgettable finale.

Of political interest...

It's difficult for me to stop thinking about politics for even 10 seconds at a time these days, what with, you know, EVERYTHING going on all at once. So forgive some political meandering today.

First of all, I'm late getting to this, but it's great to see folks here in Mass pitching in to help keep marriage equality alive in California. Ethan Jacobs at Bay Windows blogs about the work Family Equality Council is doing here. I hear mixed things about the ballot initiative that could potentially make gay marriage unconstitutional in Cali-- I think the polls are on our side, but the money seems to be with the other side, at least last I heard. Anyway, that fight isn't over, and news about it is hard to find in the noise about presidential politics and the various bailout plans.

Secondly, looks like McCain did an interview with the Washington Blade. Apparently he's the first Republican candidate for president to EVER talk to a gay publication. To which I say, Really? And to which I then say, Does this even count as an interview? Because in an interview, I tend to look for substance. Read and marvel at the ways it's possible for English to be rendered virtually meaningless. (For the record, Coro Allegro does not endorse any candidates-- these comments are mine alone.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Poulenc has been cheering me up.

The past couple weeks, we Allegrans have been digging deep into Poulenc's Figure humaine, a piece that sort of blows my mind. We've sung a lot of Poulenc-- the Gloria, the Mass in G, Un soir de neige, and Litanies a la vierge noire all spring to my mind immediately as pieces we've performed in recent years, and I'm probably missing some-- and to some extent we have a good feel for that unique Poulenc sound that's so rich and weird all at once. But still, Figure humaine is a real challenge. The piece is so darned awesome, though, that the work is fun.

This has been a dark couple of weeks. It's raining and grim all weekend in Boston, and I feel like I've heard nothing lately but crappy news about how the world economy is mush and so forth. And at this stage in my learning the music, it's an intellectual exercise, something challenging and diverting and fun that can take me outside of my own worry-steeped brain. We all know that listening to music can be transportive and moving, but learning music can have that effect as well. I've been really glad to devote the time to Poulenc, who, when he was writing this in Nazi-occupied France, frankly had much bigger problems than I do. I'll bet composing this was freeing for him too.

The movement I've been enjoying the most lately has been the 5th, Riant du ciel et des planetes-- Eluard's poetry in this one is so sardonic, and the music is so glib and stark, that it's been good fun and seems to suit my mood. (At least I THINK the poetry seems sardonic-- my French dates back to high school and is nothing near fluent!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The concert for Obama was awesome...

This past Friday night, September 12, I went to National Anthem: Classical Musicians Unite to Elect Barack Obama, at Jordan Hall. Put on by David Kravitz and Charles Blandy-- not only local singers, but apparently also political bloggers at the concert was amazing: three and a half hours of music from an array of local musicians, all of it really fantastic. Considering I got in for $20, and that all that money was going to the Obama campaign directly, I've never gone to concert that was a better value. Highlights for me personally: Krista River and Lisa Saffer doing the duet from La Incoronazione di Poppea, the MarNi Duo playing selections from Porgy and Bess (OK, who WERE they? I'd never heard of them, but I will absolutely be looking for them around town from now on), and "Soave sia il vento" from Cosi fan tutte, sung by Amanda Forsythe, Majie Zeller, and David Kravitz. Truly, though, every performer seemed to have put their heart into the night, and all the music was really stunning.

At the beginning of the night, they announced that they'd raised over $50,000 for Obama, and I'm not surprised-- the hall appeared to be completely sold out! I saw lots of singers and board members from Coro in the crowd, and a lot of the performers have worked with Coro before-- it was fabulous to see them again donating their performances for such an important cause.

Check out if you're curious about the rest of the roster.