Showing posts with label San Francisco Lyric Chorus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Francisco Lyric Chorus. Show all posts

Monday, August 13, 2012

Singing the Berlioz Requiem at Davies Symphony Hall with 350 other musicians - a follow up

Robert Gurney conducts 250 singers - I'm right above his left hand. photo: Timothy Lee
I think it's safe to say that last Sunday, August 5th performing the Berlioz Requiem (and several other pieces) was one of the most exhilarating and exhausting musical experiences I've ever had. It's really special to pull off something so amazingly beautiful with 350 other people, with 1700 other people in attendance (check out the standing ovation).

Actually, I would have done it all just to hear the Richard Strauss Sprach Zarathustra, Fanfare (also known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey), which we did, four times. THAT was one of the most thrilling things I've ever sat through.
You can only see twelve, but I promise there were thirteen timpanis. Photo by me.
Watch the video below. There were 13 timpani (kettledrums) and it was absolutely incredible to hear them all get pounded at once. And that major chord they hit at 1:06? Just goosebumps all over... from what wasn't all tingly already. What an absolutely thrill. I was so excited after the first run through at the dress rehearsal I literally raised the roof. I felt like such a huge dork, but I loved seeing all the smiles on everyone else's faces. 

350 people strong. Photo: Timothy Lee
Performing the Requiem was equally as thrilling, and totally exhausting. This piece is something like 80 minutes long, and the chorus sings for most of it. As an Alto 2, I got to sit down a couple times, but that's it. And I kept wondering how the folks twice my age were faring. I was physically sore to the core for the next couple of days.

The group of musicians we worked with are the Redwood Orchestra, also a group of volunteers, from the peninsula. They were fabulous and conductor Eric Kujawski was a pleasure to work with. We lovingly called him "The Dude" because of his likeness to Jeff Bridges in the Big Lebowski

From the first balcony. Photo: Elisabeth Wakcher
One blogger (one of the 80 choristers that joined us from New York) wrote about one of the funniest moments at the dress rehearsal, Kujawski called things to a halt, saying:
MORE! We need MORE! You, in the back row (of the percussion section), what are you doing standing there! Find something and hit it!!

Eric "The Dude" Kujawski - check out his shirt... photo: Timothy Lee
There's talk about going to Carnegie Hall next year. I'm on the list.

Cute photo of some of the Alto 2s. photo: John Martin

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jamie sings the Berlioz Requiem with 250 other people in Davies Symphony Hall

Next Sunday, August 5th at 3pm I will be performing one of the coolest pieces, the Berlioz Requiem, at Davies Symphony Hall with 250 other singers (San Francisco Lyric Chorus), the Redwood Symphony Orchestra and FOUR horn choirs.

The horn choirs are going to be placed in various corners of the hall, SURROUND SOUND.

I'm so excited about it.  It's going to be so kickass. Loud. Dramatic. So rock and roll.

Also on the program is that awesome Strauss piece appearing in 2001: A Space Odyssey, you know, the one with the monolith and the monkeys?

Read more about it here in my article

Tickets are $20-45

Listen to the "Dies Irae" movement from the Requiem, this is one of the more dramatic movements.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I sing in choirs: SF Lyric Chorus concerts this weekend and the 826 Valencia Project

Yep, it's that time again: choir concert time! I have a short, but kickass tenor solo in the spiritual "Daniel, Daniel Servant of the Lord". I'm so in love with spirituals, these songs are in my blood. I love the Copland piece as well and the Thompson is totally growing on me.

The San Francisco Lyric Chorus has a concert on Saturday at St. Marks in San Francisco and on Sunday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Orinda (East Bay). Let me know if you'd like to come.

The music is gorgeous and challenging. I thought it would be a breeze because we didn't have to learn any foreign languages, but because it's mostly 20th century music, and the harmonies are super difficult. The whole program is a capella as well, so at times I feel like we're picking entrance notes out of the air.

I love singing in choirs. Why? Yes, I love the sound, it's a very personally beautiful sonic texture I love. But I think it's more than that. I love that people can sing together with nothing else: no amplification, no mics, no instruments. Just voices. I also love that every person has a different voice, but when singing with other people, they all meld into one, creating a "choral" sound: a group of 20 people over here, might sound very similar to a group of 20 people over there.
I also love how one person (or more) can totally mess up, and it might be totally unnoticeable.

The choral community is HUGE in the Bay Area. I love what that communal idea of music making means about the area. It's very fitting.

Just last week I participated in the 826 Valencia project led by Camille Robles at One Red Delicious Press. The concept is to submit an audio recording of a story, any story, as long as it's personal. Camille is going to catalog the stories and create a book from them. I think there might even be music added to some of them.

This project will benefit San Francisco's 826 Valencia, a writing center dedicated to getting kids excited about the literary arts and fostering the writing skills of the youth. The classes they offer are free, and they inspire creativity, confidence, and a route to finding one's voice. Camille is still taking submissions if you want to get in involved. For more info, click here.

This is a story about the most personal, spiritual and emotional musical experience I've ever had. In a nutshell, I was moved to tears by the singing and acoustics of my high school choir while in France. I used this story for my college admissions essay and as soon as I heard about this project, it was the story that came to mind.

Here is the audio track, happy singing!

Grand chapel by Alwaysmoretohear

Saturday, April 30, 2011

San Francisco Lyric Chorus: Voices of Immigration, Jamie sings a solo and her own immigration story

My great-grandparents, Dorothea and Georg Boss in Italy around 1941 (I love how tan he is from the Italian sun)

Next Saturday and Sunday (May 7th and 8th), my choir the San Francisco Lyric Chorus has its Spring concerts. After almost a year of being a member, I can finally be part of a performance (for the first I was in a wedding and the second I was in Africa).

The pieces were chosen with the personal immigration stories of chorus members in mind. For instance, there is one tenor whose family is Cajun via French Canada, so we are singing a couple French Canadian tunes. There are songs specifically about leaving the Old Country and arriving to the New World. We'll also be performing the beautiful Shape Note tune, "How Can I Keep From Singing."

I have a solo in one of the Yiddish tunes. It's short, but very beautiful.

The mother/baby image is my grandmother and great-grandmother in Danzig, Germany around 1918

I submitted my family's story of immigration and it, along with a photo or two, will be featured in the program.

My grandmother was born in Danzig, Germany (now called Gdansk and part of Poland). She and her three younger brothers were able to get out of Germany before 1940. I now have family scattered across the globe from Brazil to Australia and Israel to England.

Peter, Georg, Walter, Lori (my grandma) and Hans in Danzig Germany, 1928

The Boss Family: (front) Georg, great-great-grandpa Louis, Peter & Dorothea. (back) Hans, Lori and Walter; 1939 Danzig, Germany.

When my great-grandparents could stay no longer, they left my great-great-grandpa Louis and got on a boat set for Palestine. Due to the British blockade, the boat was rerouted to Libya. Then a Jewish-Italian organization brought them to Southern Italy and shuttled them from refugee camp to refugee camp (including possibly a prison) until they settled in the small hill town of Cancellara near Naples. They lived there in relative hiding for three years, living among poor Italians.

In 1944 they were able to get on the ONLY U.S. Government sponsored refugee boat (it's so sad there weren't more). They were two passengers of one thousand Christian and Jewish refugees. Three thousand applied to be on this boat. There is a book about it called The Haven by Ruth Gruber. The boat docked in New York and my great-grandparents lived in Oswego, until their citizenship went through. Then they moved to Los Angeles to be near my grandmother and one of my great-uncles.

One of the most amazing things about this story (there are many) is that my grandmother did not know where her parents were or even if they were still alive. It's also amazing that poor Italians welcomed my great-grandparents into their community for several years. I'm thinking of going to Italy to collect aural histories if at all possible.

I have a box full of photos, they are such a trip. I also have some letters and military papers I'd like to get translated. Anyone know German well?

Anyway, if you're in town, come see me sing next weekend!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Why Mendelssohn is making me angry (and a plug for the San Francisco Lyric Chorus concert)

Bach's polyphony has always pissed me off, and now I'm starting to hate Mendelssohn's too.

(Watch out, this post is going to be a little more personally aggressive than usual.)

I just got home from a San Francisco Lyric Chorus rehearsal and I am so agitated I don't know what to do with myself other than rant. The chorus is performing Duruflé's Requiem and Mendelssohn's Te Deum at Mission Dolores Basilica in San Francisco on August 21 and 22. (I will not be singing in this concert because I am in a friend's wedding.)

This is the movement "Sanctus" from Duruflé's Requiem. It's super purdy. I sang this movement in junior high and it just sparkles! (If that makes any sense..)

The Requiem is a commonly performed and beloved piece because of its absolute gorgeousness. Te Deum is not performed very often, and I think I have an idea why: IT'S HARD. Not only is it composed for double chorus (meaning there are eight parts: SATB times two) there are also soloists for each choir. On some pages there are 16 lines of music, so it's like reading a orchestral score. And the publisher of this particular score that we're using is very inconsistent and likes to change the organization of the score every two pages, so your part shows up in a different place every time you move to a different line.

But that's not even the worst part: the worst part is the chaos I feel while I'm singing the faster movements of Te Deum. The never ending lines of quarter and eighth notes make me crazy. Granted, we're still learning our parts, but today I just couldn't handle it. And I think I know why: this music is mirroring how I feel lately, CHAOS.

After this event for my friend Lissy is over (if you don't know, she has cancer and we're trying to find her a stem cell match) on Wednesday, I will hopefully feel better. But with all the other balls I have up in the air right now, the mental energy that I'm using trying to keep them all up there is making me a little nutty.

This is the last few movements of Te Deum. These people make it sound easy.

Back in 2000 when I was studying abroad in Sydney, I was lucky enough to get hooked into this performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor at the Sydney Opera House with a bunch of junior high kids and teachers. There must have been something like 400 people stumbling through Bach's polyphony. No one around me was singing the same thing, so I just sort of made my way through the notes trying to sight-sing and follow the conductor as best I could. I can't even imagine what that must have sounded like out there in the audience.

The experience made me insane and I've had a bad taste for that sort of composition since; and this Mendelssohn is hitting me a little too hard right now. Hopefully as we get more confident in our parts, it'll start to sound divine like those folks up in the video there.

Does anybody else feel this way about this kind of polyphony? I'm okay with Renaissance polyphony like Palestrina, in fact that is one of my favorite genres of choral music. Why do I feel this way about this specific kind of composition?