Oxford: Day 3

Ladies and gentlemen, I begin with a heartfelt apology for not being able to write consistently on a daily basis. Well, what are we waitin’ for? Here are the last 2 days comin’ atcha boom Boom BOOM!  Day 5 will… follow shortly after :p

On our third day, we had the honor of seeing Edward Higgenbottom in two workshops. With him, we sang through a rather thick booklet called “Reading from Part Books: The practice of reading 16th -century vocal music from part books.” Those cool ladies and gentlemen out there who have been in bands and orchestras are probably familiar with seeing music that only has their respective parts written down. Well, choral musicians are not. Ya know, we like to be extra aware of what everybody else is singing ‘cause that’s just how we roll. Oh and also, the music was mostly in cubic notation with no bar lines. Let me tell you, it was a pure 16th century choral workout that was challenging for sight-singing but was very invigorating. I mean when we got it right, the harmonies and suspensions were just mmhmmm~ ♪. Someday I’ll be able to sight-read this like a BOSS. You’ll see.

Unfortunately, due to an emergency extra rehearsal, I couldn’t fully attend Dr. Higgenbottom’s second workshop that day, which was to be about Benjamin Britten and his choral works, focusing on Rejoice in the Lamb. From the time that I was able to participate, I learned that Britten was a shrewd man who was radical in his composing, had mad good composing techniques up his sleeve, and knew how to show it off effectively. Although he mostly wrote for amateur choirs, he was a master at weaving ease into rhythmic and harmonic complexity… Which is true, because once you find the patterns in his music, you can pretty much sing the whole thing… But I say it’s still rather difficult! When I heard that his St. Nicholas was composed for a boy choir, I questioned my musicianship skills in general. But I guess if they can do it, we can do it too. No fear, we have more rehearsals, AND we have another opportunity to see Dr. Higgenbottom on Day 6. So stay tuned for that ‘cause he’s truly awesome!

Before we move on, here are your tea pictures for the day.

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After tea, we had our second conducting session of the week. This time, we changed chorus groups, and my group was put into the church where we sang all the accompanied pieces. I was really excited to see how the rest of the conducting members would do. As it turned out, each person was so different with such a unique style of conducting. However, what always shines through is that all of them are here to pursue a deeper understanding in the art of conducting, and that is truly admirable indeed. Conducting is difficult yo! It’s not easy to stand in front of a choir you don’t know and to trust each other to make music. So bravo to all of them. and I can’t wait to see what they’ll take from this experience.

Then, oh then, ladies and gentlemen, the Westminster Williamson Voices finally had a full-choir open rehearsal of all the repertoire for the upcoming concert with none other than our very own, Dr. Jordan!!!!!!!!  It felt so good to be singing with everyone again, and this turned out to be the highlight of my day.

Yes, by the end my voice was rather tired, but I wouldn’t have spent the evening in any other way. The concert was going to be epic, and it was. But that is for another day (Day #5, in fact) coming soon, I promise. Until then, cheerio!

About choralmusicinstitute

Presented by Westminster Choir College of Rider University and Oxford University's St. Stephen's House, the one-week institute provides instruction to all levels of conductors.
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