How do I begin??? Maybe with “we performed the concert today”! Would the blog o sphere be content with that? No I don’t think so either. We performed Joby Talbot’s Path of Miracles today, and by we I mean the Richard Eaton Singers as special guests of ProCoro Canada. For those of you not where I am, that was in the Francis Winspear Centre for Music in beautiful downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
We were performing as part of Alberta Culture Days. Every seat in the house was spoken for – that is around 1700. There were close to 100 singers on stage and this was a completely a cappella piece. Notice I did say a cappella, with some accompanying percussion instruments in part IV. OK so the 100 singers break down like this; 24 Professional Choristers (from ProCoro Canada) and 76 gifted amateurs (from the Richard Eaton Singers RES) ably led down our Path by the artistic Director of ProCoro Canada Michael Zaugg and the RES assistant Conductor Sara Brooks.
We have been working on this production since May, with a summer break. We have heard this piece in our daily grind, some listened to it during workouts, some listened to it while driving or walking the dog. Some even inflicted the piece on the other members of their families during all of the above. Regardless, the piece became something special to all of us, even those not singing but having been “forced” to listen to it. It became soul music, at times ethereal but always satisfying to listen to or to sing. Better to sing and perform, but I am so pleased and proud to have been able to be a part of its production.
Today we arrived around 1200 ish, especially those of us who had scenes in part II. I was to play a dead pilgrim at the side of the road – hence the title for this post. We played with the timings, set up the scene’s once or twice and then went into the warmup – which Michael ran – and then onto some good singing. We had changed a few of the cue’s since Tuesday night so we went through those as well, to ensure we had everything in our heads. With this piece we have been asked to move around the stage and up to the loft and back again a couple of times. A good way to remember where to go and what to do is by noting this in your score – a good trick from both the Opera and musical theatre – that way you learn your lines and any blocking you need to do and if you need to memorize voila. For many RES we don’t move around much when singing the Messiah or the Vivaldi Gloria – we are used to being able to always look at our score. Well, that only works until you turn the lights off! So memorization is the key in some of those places and even up to today we were figuring out what needed to be memorized because we would not see the score – the beauty of that is we knew the piece by this time so it was just the figuring out bit which became important.
We were working through the very first part – when the Tenor’s and Basses come from all parts of the main floor to ‘Huddle’ and then produce awesome tonal and overtonal sounds while the Soprano and Alto’s sing from the gallery. It was pretty neat – you could actually feel the overtones. We ran through this part twice and it was fairly cool to do that – and figure out what we would need to sing from memory as we made our way to the lit up areas.
I just love the harmonies that Mr Talbot has written into this piece they move me!
Well, we then worked out some of the other changes, like when we leave in Part IV – we needed more time to get back to the loft. Among other things. Then it was time to break and let the audience find their seats.
We did the show – it was very cool. Now sitting with my wife a few hours after we had the following observations – yes thanks to all those who asked me if I was OK after being the dead guy – the bruises should go away in a week or so. Anyway – she was prepped for the piece by being subjected to the music for months, but she had a context to put it in. She, and my youngest son, both said that the tones at the start were Awesome – in the original intent of the word. They too liked the theatrical movements throughout as it added a real sense of context for the piece. During Part III my wife said the presence of the Davis Concert Organ played a part and the pilgrims disappeared into the void almost as if they were becoming part of the organ. However, it was the music and the singing that put it all together – it was a great performance!!!
She, and I, thought that the lighting and the staging were brilliant – they all came out of an afternoon on the Kawartha’s??
Till next time!! Toi Toi!!