Monday, November 29, 2021

Messiah - 2021 Many Firsts

  YAY! Wish come true, I did get the invitation to sing in the Messiah with the WSO this year. Though, nothing is the same as it once was.  Yes, it is true that we have sung the Messiah before, but never like this.  The following is a list of what is different this time around.

1.  Standing far from other choristers.  What's good about it?  I have space to breathe.  What's bad about it?  I have so much space to breathe I can't feel my neighbour inhaling thereby reminding me to get ready to sing.

2.  Wearing masks.  Good because conductor cannot see if I remembered to come in or not, and also I can yawn mid performance and nobody will know.  Also I find masks to be a great wrinkle remover.   Bad because the audience will certainly hear muffled words and how will they know I am smiling broadly during 'WONDERFUL COUNSELLOR"?

3. My Cousin, Matthew Dalen is singing the tenor solo part!  Ok, actually my cousin's husband, if you want to get technical. The beauty of this is that there will be many family members in the audience and I can pretend they came to hear me!  

Alto soloist is Kirsten Schellenberg, she of the velvet let-me-wallow-in-it voice. Soprano is Jessica Kos-Wicher and bass is Neil Whitehead.4. Dr. Janet Brenneman is the first local woman to conduct the WSO!  She is rehearsing us and performing with us.  I have sung under her baton many a time, for various works, and certainly the Messiah is one of them but I have NEVER performed under her baton.  It will be interesting to see how performance Janet compares with rehearsal Janet.  

Dr. Janet Brenneman (photo from CMU website)

Rehearsal Janet is well organized, efficient and relaxed. She is in her element. What I do know about performance Janet is that she will look like a million bucks, and will sport a commanding lipstick shade. Hopefully she will be unmasked. I am looking forward to experiencing all these firsts on performance night which is December 5th at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg. Get your tickets from the WSO Box Office.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Post COVID Choral Life?


Vaccination rates are above 50%, Winnipeg Blue Bombers are planning for full capacity crowds at the stadium and maybe, just maybe choral singing will return in the upcoming concert season.  It looks to me that the Corona Virus, named Covid-19, nightmare is coming to a slow end. ( I hope I did not jinx it by writing that.)   For the duration of the Pandemic choral singing was deemed to be a highly dangerous activity.  One of my choirs continued with a Corona version of itself and we recorded in small, masked voice part groups and our conductor was reduced to a sound mixing engineer.  This was better than no choir at all, but just barely.  The other 2 choirs did not even do this much, although one had a sing-along on Zoom, with us all on mute and singing to a recording which again, was better than nothing, but even less satisfying than the masked voice part recordings. 

When I looked through the upcoming Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra program I was delighted to see three choral concerts!  Handel's Solomon, Handel's Messiah, and Berlioz Mass.  I am hoping to sing in the latter two and am excited to attend the Solomon.  Ever since reading Jane Glover's book, Handel in London, in which she goes into some detail on his compositions, I have questioned why so few of his Oratorios are performed in Canada.  Perhaps, it's not just Canada but the whole world that is missing out?  Hopefully the WSO's inclusion of Handel's Solomon is the beginning of more Handel choral works to come.

A much more important question is:  Will I be included?  Will my conductors want me back?  Has this forced sabbatical given them an opportunity to discard singers?  Am I one of these?!  Will they realize that altos are easy to come by?  No need to stick with the old.  These anxious questions sit behind my latest need to do choral warmups in the shower, join Voce8 in their virtual rehearsals, sing the melisma passages in For Unto us a Child is Born and hold daily Happy Hours where cocktails soothe the anxious beast.  In answer to all the enquiring minds out there, yes, I sound much better after cocktail hour. 🍹🍸🍹

I hope my attempts to get in some kind of choral shape will be rewarded by a summons to sing with the WSO again and be allowed amongst the choristers, which is the most glorious place to be!  Everyone knows heaven is just one big angelic choir!