September is finally here, and with it, the start of a new choral season.
I recall when I first started singing a certain disappointment that the singing generally stopped in May or June, and didn’t resume until the fall.
Eventually I discovered that I could cover the time with continued voice lessons, or participation in some of the Seattle area’s excellent sing-alongs during the summer.
A couple of summers ago, I decided to step things up and participate in the Midsummer Music Retreat held at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. For one week of intense participation, this was great, but the summer still felt kind of empty outside of that experience.
Last summer I tried something new in addition to the retreat: a barbershop quartet, practicing most week in the basement of our local church. Great learning opportunity, but without a final concert or other end result, it felt incomplete.
This summer, I feel like I finally nailed it.
In June I got the chance to participate in the “Star Spangled Spectacular” with the Seattle Wind Symphony. Two rehearsals with a performance on June 29 at Benaroya Hall, this was a fun little project singing classic music from the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” to “Take Me Out To the Ball Game” to the “1812 Overture.”
In July, I had the opportunity to take a class on Gregorian Chant and Renaissance Polyphony from Michael Alan Anderson at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. We spent a week learning about history, notation, musica ficta, and other great topics, then performed a Vespers service and concert on July 26.
In August (and in all the summer spare time prior) my new group the Summer Fling Vocal Ensemble kicked off its compressed rehearsal schedule, going from zero to concert in three weeks. We rehearsed a collection of early American music in the context of the American Revolution, and had our inaugural concert on August 27.
So, one concert per month throughout the summer. Some great opportunities in both large choral settings and more intimate ensembles. A really unique experience putting together my own concert and ensemble.
Feels like going back to regular church and community choir participation will be akin to “taking a break” — and hopefully I’ll be recharged for next summer!