Will Johnson (tenor)
Bach, Handel, Frank Martin, Poulenc, Tavener, Whitacre – Our 30th anniversary concert is quite a diverse program! It’s very exciting to sing these classic motets and mass settings. As a primarily baroque choir it’s both refreshing and challenging to sing 20th Century music – it certainly keeps us on our toes. One of the things I love about these musical collages is that we branch out into repertoire we may have sung with other church and community choirs but with the same Tafelmusik style we’re used to. We are singing French or German Latin both at modern and baroque pitches and strive for perfect intonation. On that note (pun intended, of course), one of the tricky things about rehearsing 20th century music is that we constantly have to readjust our tuning when singing at A’ = 440. It can be difficult because we are rehearsing using a piano for Poulenc, Lauridsen and Frank Martin but an organ for Bach, Handel and Charpentier.
Oftentimes Ivars will encourage us to listen to the tonic and dominant of the chord on the piano to ground ourselves in that key, but remind us that we’re singing with pure intonation - minor thirds and super tonics sitting slightly higher in the scale and slightly darker major thirds. We constantly listen as much as possible to those around us and not only listen for colours in the voice but also to each other’s vowel shapes to ensure a great blend and that each chord is immediately locked in. It’s a neat exercise switching gears from Gesualdo to Poulenc because they are oddly similar in ways – both have a number of challenging chord changes and ‘crunches’. It’s a wonderful program chock-full of choral classics, some gems you may not have heard before and also a special commission by Canadian composer James Rolfe. It’s going to be quite the concert.
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