Monday, June 29, 2009
We arrived in Ithaca on Sunday night. Sophia and Amy were heading up the trip, along with Cara Bernard and our chaperones Shannon Comp and Iris Harrison -- and Steve the bus driver. The YPC choristers were off to their home-stay families -- some staying in pairs, and one house taking as many as seven of our choristers!
Today was our first official day of CME. We started the day off at 9 a.m. with a joint rehearsal with the Ithaca Children's Choir -- the choristers enjoyed a slow, relaxed warm-up and rehearsed through several pieces with Ithaca College professor Dr. Jennifer Haywood before going to work on their African drumming and dance with guest Kathy Armstrong. This was definitely the high point of the day, as Kathy taught them some call-and-response patterns - using their voices, their bodies, and the drums. Janet then led the entire group in an open rehearsal for all of the graduate conducting participants to observe.
After lunch, the participants took their turns in a conducting master class. YPC and ICC choristers gave some fantastic feedback to the participants as they each conducted a piece; Janet worked with them on their gesture and style.
After our long day full of singing, drumming, movement, and campus dining hall food, we went swimming for an hour (indoors, because it was raining...it always seems to rain in Ithaca!)
before enjoying a pizza party and heading off to the host families for night #2.
We are working towards a workshop concert on Friday afternoon -- some of our YPC parents are even going to drive up to see the culmination of all we're working on this week! More to come tomorrow......signing off for now! - Sophia
Below: Zach, Will, Haru, and Lindsay pour over a map of Japan before rehearsal starts.
YPC Board Member Mrs. Onoyama was at the rehearsal to help everyone with the pronunciation and meaning of the Japanese pop song "Letters" they will be singing while on tour. The song is about the letter a teenage girl writes to herself that is given back to her 30 years later as an adult. It is a beautiful song and is very popular right now with young people in Japan so is sure to be a hit on the tour. Mrs. Onoyama complimented everyone in the chorus for their ability to pick up the words quickly. Must be all the music training!
Stay tuned for more updates on this week's rehearsals!
Monday, June 22, 2009
This concert was a particularly special event because it was the graduation ceremony for all of the YPC's graduating seniors this year, many of whom have been with the YPC for up to 10 years!!!
The audience was made up of old and young; family and friends; new fans and long-time supporters alike. It was truly an inspiring and exciting night of music for all of those performing and in attendance.
Some program highlights included:
-Prelude had the crowd laughing and smiling along with their performance of Hard Knock Life from Annie- definitely a crowd favorite!
-Intermezzo's performance of Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Weber's Grammy Award winning Requiem Mass was truly beautiful.
-The crowd was breathless after Cantare's performance of Richard Strauss' An der shonen blauen Donau. Their mastery of German was quite impressive!
-The Young Men's performance of the South African freedom song, Tshotsholoza, gave the audience a feeling of hope and joy.
-Concert Chorus performed Picaflor Esmeralda from the YPC commissioned work Two Mountain Songs by Gabriela Lena Frank.
-Chorale's performance of It Is Possible by Eric Dozier was an inspiring performance and the audience seemed deeply connected to the song and the performers.
-The Combined Choruses sang two songs together: Take Me To The Water and Oye and every foot in the audience was tapping at some point during those two songs (many hands were clapping and more than a few people were singing along too!).
What a great concert and congratulations to all the Choristers and especially, the graduating seniors!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Bruce Adolphe and I are sitting in the audience or Bergan PAC listening to an amazing quartet of young players (ages ca. 14) discussing which movement and quarter number this is, from the infamous Shostakovich.
Bruce went up to help the quartet with their tuning and tempo, they are doing a great job! (Francisco)
* * *
The piece I wrote for this 25th anniversary concert is very hard: the rhythms are tricky, and two of the movements are predominately in 11/16. (Francisco asked me why 11/16 instead of ¾ , which is 12/16, and I admitted that in these hard economic times, I simply had to save some notes, so I took one 1/16 out of every bar. He believed me!)
It is really amazing to hear kids ages 8 to 18 playing and singing such a difficult work. I suppose I could have made it easier, but the tricky rhythms are a part of my nature, and my music wouldn’t be mine if the rhythms didn’t swing and bounce in a certain way – perhaps it is from growing up in New York and always weaving my through traffic and dodging danger. So I had no choice but to make the piece tricky. To see kids playing this is a great thrill. Two weeks ago, Yo-Yo Ma premiered a huge piece I wrote for him called Self Comes to Mind, and he played it amazingly & brilliantly including lots of very tricky rhythms. But hey! He’s Yo-Yo Ma not a 10 year-old kid whose been playing for 6 years! So, yeah that was great, but this is amazing! Also, need I say that the YPCNYC is fantastic and is singing this piece beautifully and accurately. They seem very far away in this huge theater, especially when the orchestra is in front of them --- so it is difficult to negotiate the acoustics, but I’m sure they will rise to the occasion and sing the place apart! By the way, Elizabeth Nunez (why are so many of the YPC conductors named Nunez, anyway?) is wonderful – very musical, inspiring, clear, and almost as pretty as Francisco, wait -- I mean prettier! I have to thank Elizabeth for taking on such a hard piece. Apparently Francisco was a little concerned about those 11/16 bars, so he made her do it. But she is fine with it. So thank YPCNYC and thanks, too, to the amazing young instrumentalists of the Thurnauer School of Music who are playing Music Is so beautifully and full of energy! Also – young Chase Park, a 10 year-old cellist, plays a solo in my piece along with the chorus and piano. He is such a marvel, and I am sure we will be seeing him on the great stages of the world very soon. ( Hey Yo-Yo watch out for Chase!)
Time to move on to the next movement… Music Melts. Just piano and chorus for this one. Once again, we are hearing the sounds of YPC’s Cantare Division, the Thurnauer School of Music Senior Chorus, and the Thurnauer School of Music orchestra. And this is Sophia Miller bringing you our live blog as the rehearsal goes on…
The strings and percussion join us as we move on to Sarasate Said. More instruments joining the orchestration means we are having difficulty hearing the chorus again. Francisco goes on stage to work with the chorus, reminding them to sing out and to fix their posture as well.
Time for the chorus to take a break as we rehearse a movement with guitar and solo violin. Bruce gives some notes before Elizabeth takes the podium one more time (we had a podium brought onto the stage – everyone can see Elizabeth much more easily now!)
Some conferencing about placement of music stands between Bruce and the stagehands…
Just ten minutes left in the rehearsal before a dinner break!
I often think in music…
Rehearsing I Often Think In Music. Elizabeth stops – she wants a faster tempo (faster tempo seems to be the theme of the day…?)
One of the children from the orchestra is soloing on the cello – he is doing a beautiful job. His instrument sings with Bruce’s running eighth notes as he alternates between arco and pizzicato. I think this one might be my favorite movement – the chorus sings a beautiful lyrical melody, sometimes in unison, sometimes breaking into three parts.
You are the music, while the music lasts
Final movement of the rehearsal – just four minutes left! Lou takes the podium one more time for this movement.
Back to those familiar running sixteenth notes from the marimba as the chorus sings the words, “You are the music, while the music lasts.”
From one movement to the next, Bruce’s piece brings excitement and anticipation, as well as some haunting melodies and beautiful sounds from both the chorus and the orchestra. Looking forward to tonight’s performance, 7 p.m. at the Bergen PAC!
Some of the younger children have left the stage and we are now prepared to begin Bruce Adolphe’s piece, “Music Is.”
The orchestra begins the piece under Lou’s baton, and the chorus sits. We hear motives in this first movement that we will later hear with the text. Sixteenth note patterns emerge from the marimba as the entire orchestra crescendos – a sforzando as we hear a new musical theme. These children are amazing musicians! Can’t wait to hear the movements with both chorus and orchestra.
Bruce speaks with Lou briefly after this first movement, and here we go with another run-through after some notes for the marimba, and some notes on tempo. Lou runs a few measures and looks to Bruce – Bruce nods in approval, but still needs a faster tempo.
Elizabeth has taken the baton and we are now hearing the first movement in this piece that includes both chorus and orchestra: Music Is. It is difficult to hear the chorus – Bruce suggests we raise the lid on the piano, and asks the marimba player to play more softly. “You’d be surprised…” he says, “It is very loud. You can be a little quieter.” Meanwhile, Elizabeth tells the chorus she can use more – and while some of the younger children have left the stage, the chorus singing Bruce’s piece is still made up of YPC’s Cantare and the older children from the Thurnauer School of Music.
Elizabeth works on transitions as Francisco snaps some photos of the chorus – the balance of sound is beginning to improve.
(By the way, we interrupt the music to bring you this special announcement: if you’re parked in the South Right parking lot, please move your car or it will be towed.)
Starting Music Is from the top one more time – Bruce asks the chorus to be mindful of holding their notes full value, and reminds the orchestra members not performing in this movement to make sure they stay still. Some of them are getting a little bit restless…
We can definitely hear the changes in balance – the marimba is playing more softly, the piano is more prominent…but we could still use a bit more of the voices. Moving on…
We are here at the Bergen PAC in Englewood, New Jersey with 37 members of YPC’s Cantare Division, performing with the Thurnauer School of Music.
The full chorus, including Cantare and many children from the Thurnauer School of Music, is on stage right now with the school’s orchestra. They are rehearsing Francisco’s “Three Dominican Folksongs.” Elizabeth began the rehearsal, and now the orchestra’s conductor, Lou Kousma, is continuing the rehearsal. He keeps checking with Francisco about balance as Francisco listens from several locations throughout the hall. At first it was difficult to hear the chorus over the orchestra, but with some rehearsing the balance has improved!
Still working on “Three Dominican Folksongs” – trying the third movement, Arroz con leche. This time, we’re going to take it more up-tempo – instead of conducting in 3, let’s try conducting in 1. A bit of improvement as Lou looks back at Francisco – still needs to be a little faster! Better. Elizabeth is speaking to the chorus – she tells them we need a brighter tone, and stronger consonants. She demonstrates for them and they make improvements for the next run-through. Much better!