Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chanticleer Master Class

Chanticleer.  Anyone know the reference?

Chanticleer was the rooster that crowed with attitude in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales."

Chanticleer is also a Grammy-award winning men's a cappella choir that performed at St. Paul's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church on January 25, 2015 as part of the Beaches Fine Arts Series concert season.  This phenomenal group of singers has toured the world celebrating the gift of fine music-making.  They are masters of the Choral Art and we were blessed to experience first-hand what it is like to sing with an ensemble of this caliber.  These guys "sing with attitude!"


The Ladies Chamber Chorus of Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School was invited to participate in a Master Class the day after their concert.  We were joined by the University of North Florida Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Cara Tasher.  What an incredible experience for my singers!

Each choir was asked to come with 1-2 pieces of music that were "performance ready."  Each choir would have 30-minutes to "workshop" their pieces with four of the singers who had remained behind for this "Artist in Residence" experience.  My girls were nervous about singing in front of these guys.  They weren't sure what they would say about their sound.  They are young singers, but they have a lovely sound.  The first words out of Kory's mouth were, "Girls, you have a lovely sound.  Now, let's see if we can make music with the sounds you are producing."

 Master Class facilitators from Chanticleer

 Ladies Chamber Chorus - Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School
Neptune Beach, FL

They spent much of their time trying to help the girls understand that it is their job to communicate the song to the audience.  Their faces must reflect the text and their bodies must support the sound so that the audience engages in the aesthetic experience.  Their job is to move the audience to another place; a place where beauty overtakes them and they resonate with the sound and the message of the song.

St.. Paul's By-the-Sea is a spectacular venue for choral singing.  The church is built out of cocquina - a mixture of concrete and small shells - a unique form of building material used primarily in coastal cities.  The acoustics are excellent for ensemble singing and the concert series is free.  It is a "win-win" for choral music afficionados in our area.

I would like to thank the men from Chanticleer for enlightening my students and building their confidence in their own abilities as singers.  I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to Kathy Wallis, Executive Director of the Beaches Fine Arts Series, for bringing Chanticleer to Jacksonville Beach and providing my choir with the opportunity to experience their music both at the concert and in our workshop the following day.  It was an awesome experience that will resonate with my students for many years to come.

Until next time...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Concert Etiquette

Last weekend, I was in Tampa for the Florida Music Educators annual conference.  I decided to attend the middle school treble concert on Saturday morning.  I had signed up to monitor the mixed chorus' rehearsal the day before, so I was given priority seating for this concert.  I chose my seat carefully and settled in while frantic parents dashed about trying to find the perfect seat from which to see their little chorister.

Unfortunately for me, a woman with a toddler in a stroller decided that her perfect seat was the one directly behind me.  The little guy was a bit fussy before the concert, but was entertaining himself in his stroller with his sippy cup and a toy.  Ten minutes before the conductor walked out onto the podium, it became evident that the little guy had pooped his diaper.  There is no smell on the planet like a poopy diaper.  I know.  I changed enough of them as a young mother.  This particular woman found it humorous.  I most definitely did not.

She had ample time to remove the child from the premises, take care of business and return before her little darling sang their first note.  The woman leaned over to the person seated next to her and stated, "I would take him out, but he's quiet now.  As long as it's not bothering him, I'll leave him alone."  I guess she never considered that the smell might be bothering those of us in close proximity.  Since there was nowhere else I could sit, I sat with my hand over my nose and mouth for the next 45 minutes.

For all you concert-goers out there, please understand that it is important to consider those around you when you are sitting in an audience.  It is never appropriate to holler or scream your child's name from the audience.  Flash photography is extremely distracting.  Recording the performance on your iPad breaks copyright law and is no fun for the person sitting behind you trying to watch the concert through your 13" screen.  Excessive cologne can be a choking hazard for those of us with sensitivities to certain smells.  Talking to your neighbor, getting up and walking out in the middle of a piece of music, clapping at inappropriate places during the performance -- each of these things is unacceptable to the performers on the stage and to their conductor.

If you're not sure when to clap, the best rule of thumb is to clap when the conductor's arms have returned to their side.  If it becomes necessary to leave during the performance, please wait until the song is finished and the clapping begins before you quietly exit.  Turn off all cell phones and pagers.  The glow from the screen is distracting.  Remember that a concert is not a sporting event and requires a bit of decorum.  If your baby becomes disruptive (or poops their diaper), please remove them from the auditorium as quickly as possible.  Those trying to enjoy the concert with you will be most grateful.

Until next time...