We were called to do a few additional rehearsals for the Path of Miracles project with ProCoro Canada. On Sep 8, 2014 the RES component gathered at our usual rehearsal location – in the FAB. We started arriving around 0945 ish with coffee’s in hand and such and were doing the normal getting ready to sing routine. Sara started us in a warmup and then turned the podium over to Michael who gave us an introduction to what he wanted to accomplish with us for the day including our first rehearsal with ProCoro Canada in the afternoon. We then immediately went into sectionals – with Michael taking the Alto and Soprano sections and Sara taking the Tenor and Bass sections. Sara was commenting on how the Music Department was coming back to life after the summer with all the action going on in the building, it was nice to see and hear.
We started working on sections from part IV of the movement, things where we just needed some additional work on getting the rhythms and notes correct and repeating them a few times to get them into our ears. Seemed to work! Then we worked on a passage from the first part and had to rejoin the Alto and Soprano sections in the main room.
Michael reminded us that we need to keep our throats like a pipe organ with vertical space and not to change the way the organ is set up but use the tongue or the way the lips are set to get the sound out. In particular there are parts where the basses are setting up the chord or chords and need to be the strong foundation. When we were all settled as a group he started in part IV and we worked through a number of passages, things we worked on the Tuesday prior as well as with Sara earlier. We were trucking along very nicely and things were starting to gel, just about to begin a really juicy passage of the piece when Michael stopped for our morning break “Chorus Interruptus” I call it.
With the break over we were back at it until lunch starting with the very last choruses of the work and then working with our accompanist to start the passage in different keys to show us what it was like, he showed us, via this exercise that the chord E flat which the composer used was just the right one in this place. We then went on to other passages in part I working things into our heads almost to the point of memorization and then broke for lunch.
We saw a number of familiar faces coming into the room after lunch, ProCoro Canada had arrived. Michael started with the statement of how he came up with the idea to do this format for the piece and how he had in while on vacation in the Kawarthas over one summer. He then went on to tell us that the recording (see the image at the top of this post) was done by only 19 people. We got right into it after that – with RES basically surrounding the ProCoro singers in our individual singing parts both to gain the right pitch at points, but also to group the sound.
We started with part IV at a part where the pilgrims start cresting Monte de Gozo coming down to Santiago, nearing the end of their long march. It is a very beautiful and moving part of the piece and the soprano’s/Tenor’s high pitches just feel like sunlight cresting behind the pilgrims. Then it slows down like pilgrims who first see the end of their journey and remember to be penitent, but starts to speed up as the excitement of reaching that end picks them up and moves them forward ever more quickly. Following part IV we moved into part I sections where we needed to get the rhythms together as a group. Then as we broke for our afternoon coffee Michael had us move the furniture to the sides of the room for some basic staging.
Following the break Michael had us stand in sections and we ran through some of the passages in various formations, again gelling the sound in both our ears and in the new formations. It was a very powerful sound and just an amazing experience. As some of the tweets yesterday after rehearsal said – can’t wait to hear it in the Winspear Sep 28… fbLink