Monday, June 25, 2012

Out of my comfort zone

Yesterday afternoon my choir held an 'open day' - a concert with items from the choir, the kids' choir, and the two young organists, followed by mulled wine in the choir room. The main event for me (other than the really good mulled wine - lots of cinnamon sticks!) was singing the solo in Mendelssohn's "O for the Wings of a Dove". I don't usually tackle 19thC music - in fact I tend to actively avoid it - but the choir director Robert has a soft spot for what he calls 'chocolate box music', so I had to suck it up!

One aspect that differed from my usual Baroque fare was that I had to obey the dynamic and expression markings in the score, instead of making my own decisions about those things. And of course I didn't have to worry about adding trills etc, so it was actually a more straightforward process than I'm used to when I prepare pieces for performance.

In the end, it went really well! Luckily our organist Tom is a very experienced Romantic performer, so it was easy to really get into the music with him accompanying. And the choir sang well too. :)

In other singing news, I'm now on Day 27 of my self-imposed course of sight-singing Bach chorales. And I'm getting better! As with many things, doing a little bit each day does get results. I discussed it with Robert, and he suggested playing the bass line on the keyboard while I sing the other parts, to help give context. I tried it, and it makes the sight-singing so much easier it kind of feels like cheating. :p

I'm still having trouble with some of the larger intervals. It's pretty embarrassing, but I still can't reliably sing 4ths and 5ths! Playing the bass line does help, but I need to have another strategy so I'm not just guessing. I'm going to try 'filling in' the interval with a fast scale, out loud at first, and then in my head. Simple, and hopefully foolproof. We shall see...

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