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Strange Beasts 5

Rehearsal 5/8 done. I believe we are on track. Much depends on whether the singers do a bit of work by themselves between now and Wednesday, the time of the next rehearsal.

I had underestimated the difficulties of the remaining Bodin movement a little, but we banged it into shape today. It took a longer than I thought it would, but I think we got there in the end. It has some really weird, difficult and wonderful harmonies and the rhythms are anything but straightforward. When you get it right, it sounds gorgeous. It tells the story of the Cuscus, a cute marsupial from New Guinea. The audience will probably only remember the jungle soundscape and forget about wonderful passages like the one below.

I am really satisfied I had the nerve to program the Bodin suite. The choir has responded to the challenge admirably and I can hardly believe how good most of it sounds already. As I have suggested in the earlier posts, I also put myself on the spot, for this music is no cinch to me. New conductor under scrutiny – might be wiser to stick to music where you know you are in control. But every time I dare step outside of my comfort zone, I grow, or am forced to grow. This is a profession in which you never feel totally comfortable, nor should you. Staying humble and working hard is a necessity for me.

I mentioned my rudimentary planning in an earlier post. Here is proof: a two-week plan:

Amazingly, this seems to work for me. Sort of.

Before and after today’s rehearsal, we had auditions for the solos in the Christmas Oratorio. I was really, really impressed by the singing and love the uncomplicated way the singers reacted to my suggestions. I have of late used soloists from the choir whenever possible. What you lose in sheer solo vocal quality, you win in unity of style and approach. And I just enjoy the dynamics of both the rehearsal process and the concert more this way. The only real pain is having to decide between so many good alternatives…

Thanks to the auditions, I have a strange combination of Bach and Bodin merging in my mind. Fortunately, I now have a few days off choral work to get a bit of distance to it all.

As you have read in the previous posts, the weather has been absolutely delightful. This dry spell has actually been record-breaking. So, sit back and just wait for the backlash. It will come.

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