Today was the first rehearsal for Choral Chameleon’s 2nd Season. What a delightful first rehearsal it was.
Since this blog is written by moi, Choral Chameleon’s Choir Representative on the board, I would like to preface with a brief behind-the-scenes glimpse at my Sunday prior to arriving at the Chameleon rehearsal.
I sang in church choir in the morning, and in the early afternoon I had rehearsal for my Temple gig for the High Holy Days. I left that rehearsal early in order to get to the Choral Chameleon rehearsal. My train was out of service and I had to take a different route, so I was about 20 minutes late.
I walked into the rehearsal as the choir was finishing warm-ups. Since last Spring, the choir has added one new member on each part to the ensemble. For spelling’s sake, I will not refer to these people by name until I have that information in front of me.
The choir rehearsed in a different location than the usual rehearsals due to some conflicts with 4th U. The church has very generously donated rehearsal space to Choral Chameleon and we are all incredibly grateful for this.
The Nov. 1st concert celebrates choral pieces fit for All Soul’s Day. Each piece of music deals with themes of death, loss, and mortality. We began our rehearsal by reading Frank Ticheli’s There Will Be Rest. The choir sounded incredible. It is shocking to me that even though we rehearsed in a brand new space with pretty unfortunate choral acoustics, and that we haven’t sung as an ensemble in 5 months, and that there are several new members to the group and a couple who had to miss today… we are already singing at near concert-ready sound. I realize that’s a pretty bold statement. To me, many rehearsals in the first season were spent “finding” the organic, sonic experience that defines Choral Chameleon. We spent hours upon hours blending, meshing, soul-searching, altering sounds, doing anything to sound like a cutting-edge, honest ensemble who can blend from one genre to the next. We must have gotten there last year, because now when we read music, we begin with that sound. Once all the notes and words are synched up correctly, there are some exciting musical journeys that the group will embark on. I can already feel it.
We also read Bobby McFerrin’s setting of the 23rd Psalm. I’ve sung this before in church choir, and it’s a delight to sing it in a chamber choir that blends specifically for the type of close-knit sound I feel this song was written for.
We also looked at Louise Talma’s Let Touch The Sky. It’s an upbeat look at death, if you can imagine that. It adds a hopeful perspective to the rest of the material we’ll be presenting.
But the main event of this concert will be Jeff Parola’s two works: Sempiterna and The Giant Mirror. Jeff Parola is Choral Chameleon’s composer-in-residence for 2009-10 and will have a new work premiering with CC at the spring concert in 2010. Sempiterna has also never been performed in its entirety (three movements) in a single concert before, so it is also in a sense a world premiere. Sempiterna is essentially the nucleus, the theme of the CC Day of the Dead concert. It is the only work that deals directly with the moments of death, while the other pieces discuss the subject of death, its implications, its mystery, its inevitability.
Sempiterna, I dare to say, is a masterpiece. Jeff Parola’s compositional style, in my humblest of opinions, is as though Phillip Glass discovered emotion. It has minimalist characteristics, but is also heart-wrenching, accessible, and gorgeous in its execution. There are moments of sheer beauty in the pieces, which would be very fitting for a movie score during an epic battle scene where a main character is dying. It is an epic work, and I am thrilled that we are singing it.
Already, Choral Chameleon is listening to each other as they read music together for the first time. We are creating a unified, honest sound. We are singing incredible, rare, and emotional music that is accessible to everyone. I can’t wait to see what happens next. If each rehearsal is like today’s, Choral Chameleon is about to change the world.
Choral Chameleon’s Rehearsal Blog is written by Andrew Cook-Feltz, baritone and Choral Representative to the board.