Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fear of Judgement

Rehearsing the Beethoven Mass in C Major with the First Mennonite Church Choir has not gone as well as expected.  There seem to be many trouble spots.  This is surprising since this choir has mastered more difficult works, like Bach's St. John's Passion and Brahms Requiem better than this. 

I have had my own pet difficult spot and it has been the syncopated entry of the word Judicare which occurs in the Credo movement.  One look at my score will show you the trouble I have had.  First there is the circled note which I marked early on telling me to please look at this area.  Then there is the marked counting from the two bars preceding the entry.  I don't recall having had trouble with this entry last time I sang it so I must have had stronger counters sitting near me that just led me along.  
It seems the more pencil marks I make the more anxiety I get as this section approaches.  The more I count the more confused I am.

Last rehearsal my conductor saved me. Yuri put down his baton and said, "Just stop counting.  Listen to the orchestra and when they are done their 3 chords, gasp in fear of judgement and sing"  He demonstrated this with a loud quick breath and eyes open wide.   Now, Judicare means judgment and it appears Beethoven deliberately placed the word in this syncopated style where the judgement comes upon us unexpectedly.   Since I also live in fear of judgement at this point in the movement it is easy for me now to listen to the orchestra, gasp out my fear by a quick sharp intake of breath and sing out "judicare".  After our conductor's demonstration the choir tried again, and lo and behold we all came in at the correct time.  It seems a fear of judgement is something we can relate to.

I am sure this is not a problem for most choirs but for us Mennonites syncopation is unnatural.  We can sing out a Bach Choral in the steady style of kneading bread but ask as to venture into an area that might lead to dancing and we just can't do it.  Maybe that's why I didn't have a problem with it the last time I sang this.  That choir didn't have the word Mennonite in its name.