There was a break in the Beast rehearsals today due to an Interplay session at the Canadian Music Center. Interplay is a great program, in which composers can, during a two-hour session, present the choir a with new work, hear it sung and get feed back from both me and the singers on notation, difficulties, idiomatic solutions etc. Most of the composers are local, but the call goes out nationwide. The realization is simple: the composers bring copies of their music and the choir sings it (they do sight-read really well). Then we chat. Suggestions are made, requests flow both ways and there is time to test different dynamics, tempi and articulations.
We had three pieces that were pleasingly different: one to a serious poem, one to a humorous text and one vocalise. They were all fairly tonal, but with nice harmonic twists. One was pretty much a straight-forward four-part song, one with divisi and one in eight parts throughout. All the pieces definitely deserve performances and I believe that getting feedback on the pieces at this point will give the composers a chance to fine-tune their musical thoughts. Definitely a program I want to keep going!
We are back to the Beasts tomorrow and I have a plan for the rehearsal. My plans are fairly sketchy (what pieces, what methods – practice this at a slow tempo, stop there to check the chords one by one, listen to the SA and TB parts separately etc. – and in what order we do the pieces). After having a go at doing, at what I thought were, pretty precise schedules for rehearsals, I noticed they just do not work for me – I would always get stuck on something that completely ruined the rest of the timings. So I have learned to have a very rudimentary plan, but continuously plan and replan during the rehearsal. I follow the clock and keep shifting the bits and pieces here and there. Most of the time it works. And even when it does not, it feels more natural for me.
When I arrived here 9 weeks ago, everyone warned me of the rain. So far, there have been 2 weeks of rain (boy, were those dismal!) and 7 weeks of fine weather. Either Vancouverites are pessimists or I have been fortunate. And this city is exceptionally beautiful when the weather is good. Late in October, the mornings are cool, but daytime temperatures are a pretty pleasant 10 degrees (C). The fall colors (or autumn colours, if you prefer) are still there, although the real splendor is receding fast.
Winter might be coming, but it comes softly in this part of the world.