Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 7 - The More the Merrier

Today we were joined by our large choir and 4 "brass bands", completing the Gothic Ensemble. Or so we thought!

Of the 4 brass bands, only 1/2 a band showed up. In keeping with absentee-ism wiritng, all sections were slightly dwindled today. With exception of the tuba section, we were both there all day! I still like saying "tuba section" in an orchestral setting :-)

After commenting about this fact all week in this blog, the microphone provided for our MD John Curro was put into full time use today. It made communication throughout the entire ensemble very easy indeed. 

Still, the orchestra was sounding great, despite being down in numbers. Apparently the chorus is down in numbers too. Technology is to be utilised to boost the volume of the choir and to aid in "tuning notes" for their pitch. A certain number of choir members will have ear pieces (just like the FBI) to acquire the pitch when they sing a' cappella (un accompanied).

The usual "pitch" solution is having the notes sounded on a piano or electronic keyboard, then the choir sings. In the case of the Gothic chorus, a piano can not be heard from the opposite side of the massive chorus assembled. Throughout the day's rehearsal, we had an electronic keyboard sound for the choir. This will be unacceptable on the perfomance night, as it blared out with many decibels.

The ear pieces provide the perfect solution. The "ear-wig" holder, will receive the pitch, then pass it to the memebers surrounding them.

It was unfortunate to hear John Curro correct the choir in its style and pronunciations, quite regularly. He even stated that what he rehearsed with the chorus weeks ago, wasn't evident today. Naturally, he spent a fair bit of time rehearsing the chorus more than the orchestra. But this was already expected.

Why was this the case with the choir, I guess you could say "faultering" after many previous rehearsals?

That's an easy question to answer. This is the very first time they have sung with the orchestra. It's a totally different accoustic to what they are used to. They are also listening to an (near full) orchestra and not a piano or a recording. A totally different environment, if you will.

I remember practicing my Gothic tuba part and having a fair bit of it sound great... in the small double brick practice box at home. At the first read through, ARGH, different sounds and accousitics, plus others playing at the same time. My concentration was pulled in all directions in this new environment, with my playing/reading suffering. It takes a little time to adapt and now I know the environment, accoustic, sounds and my parts better, I'm performing as I should. Well, much better than the very first day. Sunday for me was a day to not remember, too many "brain farts" screwing up my performance. I wasn't the only one but I can only comment on this subject about myself.

As for the choir, after some detailed rehearsing and vocal inspiration from MD Curro, they sounded great. Yes, it did take all day to go through the last 3 movements but it was all positive for both tuba 1, choir and orchestra.

This is the first time the Gothic Ensemble (Orchestra, bands and choir) performed together. Teething problems and other issues were always expected.

This is just part and parcel of organising something so massive. This was the hardest part for all concerned, including the volunteers who help keep the show running (admin, tea/coffee etc). We will learn from our mistakes and continue with our anxiety levels constantly eroding away. We will create our own comfort zone and perform to our fullest on December 22.

In previous posts, I've mentioned about interesting and unusual writing, within the orchestral setting. Yes, the choir continued with similar unusual writing. While not listening and comprehending everything the choir did, there were as many "great" I guess you could say normal writing as there was odd writing.

What an ending!!! It's always been said, if you strat brilliantly and finish brilliantly, it doesn't matter what happens inbetween. A couple of musicians said that today, including the MD Curro stating it to the ensemble. It was met with laughter. All bulldust aside, what John did with the choir, and with the orhestra, was amazing in some places. Some places need further work.

Today also saw our first (I'm pretty sure) international musicians meld into the Gothic Orchestra. Sanjay (spelling?) on double bass and Michael on percussion. Both are from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Aparrently many more from this orchestra are to be with us. Let's hope so!

Michael (center)

Walking out at the end of the day, there was an air of positivity in the hall. Especially how the choir concludes this epic work. I had a day to forget but I won't and will learn from my (admittedly tired) mistakes.

I took many photos today and will put them up here once they have been edited. Previous posts in this blog will be updated accordingly as well as a picture page.

Stay tuned for more with the Gothic Tuba Experience

John Szkutko

1 comment:

  1. Actually, John, there will only be two brass choirs for this performance, even though there are four scored for. At one point there were discussions to only have one brass choir for the performance, but seeing that they're supposed to be antiphonal it would have been a bit difficult for one brass choir to echo itself. Still, it's disappointing to see so few of the brass choir turn up- especially when I saw one of them the night before, and assured me that they were coming along.
    It took four hours before I played my first note yesterday- do you think I can make it five?