It is difficult for me to fully wrap my brain around the fact that March 7 was almost a full month ago! So much has happened it such little time…
The NEC Concert Choir, in collaboration with the NEC Contemporary Improvisation Department, Hankus Netsky, the NEC Wind Ensemble, and soloists Adrienne Arditti, Erica Petrocelli, Julia Partyka, Joshua Quinn, led by Maestro Charles Peltz and narrated by President Tony Woodcock, presented a fantastic performance of Honegger’s King David at the Church of the Covenant in downtown Boston. Though Mother Nature attempted to weigh in and make a mess of the evening, she failed. Miserably! The performers had a lovely, appreciative audience, and they entertained them with the professionalism we faculty encourage them to embrace.
In fact, you can witness the performance yourself! Thanks to Andrew Hurlbut and members of the NEC Public Relations department, you can view the concert in its entirety. Click, turn up your volume, sit back, and enjoy!
No sooner had we successfully finished the Honegger King David Project the NEC Chamber Singers had three final tour preparation rehearsals, and we were at the Boston-Logan Airport by 5:00am on Friday, March 15 for our Mid-Atlantic Tour (see interior plane pic below!)!
I cannot say enough wonderful things about the level of professionalism, and humanism, these 28 students displayed over our 5 days together as we traveled from Boston, to Raleigh, to Greenville, to Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, and finally, home to Boston. Not only did the unspoken musical dialogue between each of them grow (in leaps and bounds!), but despite how tired they may have been, they performed each concert with a renewed spirit, magnificent sound and musical maturity well beyond their years. Think I’m biased in my opinion? I can’t blame you. Every conductor usually is! Take a listen to a few of the audio clips below. These were recorded during the March 17 afternoon performance at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Not only do they sound glorious, they also performed, at the last minute, under the leadership of my second year graduate choral conducting student Darrel Whidden (I, unfortunately, became quite ill the night before – but as we performers always say, “The show must go on!”).
Robert H. Young – Sing Me A Song
Diane Loomer, arr. – Frobisher Bay
(Joseph Anthony Smith & Timothy Ayres-Kerr, tenors)
And so, here we are in April. I am convinced that as we age, Time insists on going faster! The Concert Choir is in week two of rehearsals preparing for our final performance this season; A Tribute to Tamara Brooks, Monday, April 29 at 8:00pm in Jordan Hall. We hope that if you will be in the Boston area you might join us that evening. The Chamber Singers will also perform on the program and will share the opening portion of their tour program. We’re considering it their official “home coming.” Though I never had the opportunity to meet Tamara, from what I have learned of her, I believe she would approve of the gesture.
Keep checking in on our blog. We’ll keep you posted with the comings and goings of the lives of the students involved in the NEC Choral Department. And of course, we hope to see you on April 29!
Erica J. Washburn
North Carolina, here we come!!! #chambersingerstour #music
We’re so excited for tour!!! #flightbuddies #CStour
The tour shenanigans will never end #CStour #pimpin
Rehearsing x a million
I am a freshman voice major, and this is my first year in Chamber Singers.
Naturally, at a conservatory, the first thing we think to talk about is the music itself: the sounds we make, the songs we sing, the basic structure of the pieces themselves, learning, training, practicing. But the one thing that sets my experience in the New England Conservatory Chamber Singers apart from that of all of the other choirs in which I have participated is not written into any score, nor is it something that can be fabricated, practiced, or reproduced. It is silence.
Chances are, you’re experiencing silence to some degree as you read this blog. But what’s so special about *our* silence, and why is Chamber Singers silence more meaningful than others?
In the moments before Ms. Washburn begins a piece, there is a perfect unity among the group, as each singer sheds themselves and gives their minds, bodies, and souls over to the rest of the choir. Like March’s snow in April, each singer melts into one another, soaking into the music, and contributes to the cadential crocuses and melodic marigolds that bud only when this harmony, so to speak, is reached.
It is in these little moments when the air itself seems to vibrate. Although you were simultaneously nervous, excited, and breathless twenty minutes earlier (or, if it is a rehearsal day, despite the fact that you just downed half your body weight in black coffee), there is a characteristic calm before the storm as each singer puts his or her ego and personal strife on a shelf and becomes one with the choir. You can almost see a fellow Chamber Singer’s heart rate slow as he or she realizes that they are in good hands and that the group will catch them if they falter. It is this supportive atmosphere and all-loving attitude that truly defines this particular group of individuals. You can’t find anything like it anywhere else in the world, and I consider myself blessed to count myself as one of their ranks.
Come and experience it first-hand. It is truly a sight to behold, and we are aching to share it with you.
Recent tour rehearsal…
In my two years here at NEC, I’ve had my fair share of life changing experiences. This institution is filled with students who all intend to be the apex of their field, and do everything in their power to achieve as much as they physically can. It’s an incredibly inspiring environment, filled with people who let the excellence of their peers push them up instead of pulling them down. And from what I have seen, no where is this more obvious than the Chamber Singers.
As a singer, there is an associated stigma that follows you where you go. We allegedly have a penchant for the overly dramatic, a perceived lack of musicianship, or a short attention span. People think falsely that we’re ditzy and dumb, all glitter and no substance, and that we glide through life with false emotions and false faces to keep ourselves right with the right people and wrong with the wrong ones. It’s a shadow that follows the word “singer,” a smudge that brings us all down a bit. But if you were to sit into a rehearsal with the chamber singers, you’d see in a heartbeat that smudges and stigmas have no place with us.
Every singer we have is incredibly intelligent, beautifully genuine, and sublimely in tune (musically, mentally and emotionally) with everyone else. On our worse days, we’re better than any other musical group I’ve ever been in, and on our best, there’s magic, which is something that defies stigmatism. That magic is especially prominent with the repertoire we’re dealing with now. It’s a range between Brahms and Ligeti, if that helps your expectations at all, and it’s some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.
Of course, with Erica Washburn at the helm, how couldn’t it be? I have worked with Erica for six years now, and she is one of the most inspiring and talented musicians I’ve ever worked with. She took a group of singers and made a choir, filled with enthusiasm and a desire to share our voices. And I think that’s pretty extraordinary. And cool.
We’ve been working for months now, tackling this music and shaping it. I’ve gotten to know my choirmates even better, and some of them have become like family to me. Its gotten to the point where we just walk around Boston singing Ligeti and Frobisher Bay in harmony. We get some weird looks, but thats the price for music that bonds you so tightly to people that you want to carry it out of the rehearsal with you and onto the streets.
We’re going on tour soon. Beautiful music, sung by fantastic musicians, as interpreted and led by a conductor extraordinare. It’s gonna be a good time. You should come.
Charles Peltz and the @necmusic Concert Choir in rehearsal for next week’s concert! #music #concert #kingdavid
Sing Chamber Singers!!! @necmusic #music #tour
1. I am a Sophomore Vocal Performance Major at NEC
2. I began singing as a boy alto in the Phoenix Boys Choir…I am now a bass.
3. I am deaf in my right ear!
1. From Delray Beach, FL
2. Apparently I am quite the “mysterious” character. The sweetest smiles hold the darkest secrets…
3. I am a triplet (2 sisters)
1. I am a classical vocalist at New England Conservatory
2. I enjoy hiking, camping and pretty much all other things outdoor related
3. I play mad video games! (Also pokemon is the bomb!)
1. 1st Year Graduate Student, major in Piano performance
2. First became involved in singing while being a repetiteur for a university opera production when the production ran out of men to sing.
3. Been playing ‘Magic: The Gathering’ since 13, and looking for other players from NEC to spellsling.
My name is Darrel Whidden, and I am a second year graduate student in choral conducting. I have a unique place in the Chamber Singers, and in the New England Conservatory community in general. Over the past year and a half, I have found myself in the very awkward position of standing on the podium in front of many musicians for many hours every week. These are also the people that I sing with as an ensemble member. For many, these are the same students that I consider friends and colleagues. One of the biggest challenges for me at NEC is learning to have peers in this community, while at the same time instilling a confidence in the life and teaching experience that I can offer these very peers while in a rehearsal setting. It is a very delicate balance to stand in front of so many talented singers, and from a position of authority, lead a long (sometimes, tedious!) rehearsal, and then sit down and eat lunch with them as friends. It has been difficult journey of self-exploration, but the progress that these students, my peers and I have made together as musicians has been nothing short of outstanding. I am honored to be a part of the Chamber Singers, and to share in this tour experience with them!
1. I am a Freshman at New England Conservatory studying Vocal Performance.
2. I like to pretend I’m French.
3. I also like to pretend I’m similar to Zooey Deschanel’s character Jessica Day on Fox’s New Girl.
1. I am a sophomore student of voice at NEC
2. I used to sing the National Anthem in football pads and play in the game
3. I cry every time I watch Fox and the Hound