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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Building Skills 12

More from Daniel Coyle: Tip #16 - Each Day, Try to Build One Perfect Chunk
Coyle notes, "In our busy lives, it's sometimes tempting to regard merely practicing as success. . . But the real goal isn't practice, it's progress. As John Wooden put it, 'Never mistake mere activity for accomplishment.'"

He then goes on, "One method is to set a daily SAP: smallest achievable perfection. In this technique, you choose a single chunk that you can perfect—not just improve, not just "work on," but get 100% consistently correct.

I think that's a useful thing to remember in our rehearsals. Find something in the music that you can get the choir to do as you want to hear it in the concert. It doesn't have to be much, but something that gives them a vision of what they can (and should) sound like. By perfection, I'm not talking about making your high school choir sound like whatever university choir you love, or making your university choir sound like the Swedish Radio Choir . . . but in terms of what they're capable of doing, get them there, even if it's for a chord or a phrase.

This serves two purposes: it gives them an idea of what the goal is and it builds a skill they haven't yet achieved. 

We've had classes for less than a week at UNT (classes started Tuesday last week, after MLK Day) and my University Singers rehearse MW from 2-3:20 and Th from 2-2:50. So we're in the early stages, just two rehearsals. Thursday, among other things, I was working on Javier Busto's Ave Maria and the first short section is gorgeous with beautiful harmonies and asking for a pianissimo dynamic. So Thursday I spent time on just that opening section, working for the sound I wanted, for the balances in the chords, on tuning, and on beautiful phrasing. We spent most of that time at about a mezzo piano level—when they're learning, I don't want them trying to sing too soft and get off the voice—and near the end of that part of the rehearsal I asked the sopranos to sing senza vibrato (which they can do quite well). Then I asked the whole choir to sing a true pianissimo, but to try to stay on the voice. It took several tries, but they did it beautifully. I think this is important because it does give them a sense of how they can sing the whole piece, and it also builds a skill (which will need more practice and reinforcement) of how to sing a beautiful pianissimo. That can be transferred to other music, most particularly for the women, who will sing the offstage chorus for the Neptune movement of Holst's Planets in less than two weeks on Feb. 4 with our Symphony Orchestra.

We have lots of music to learn this semester: besides the Holst, my TA, Robert Ward, is preparing the choir for Mozart's Coronation Mass for a performance with the Concert Orchestra, our 2nd orchestra at UNT, under their conductor Clay Couturiaux. Robert will not only prepare it, but will get to conduct a 2nd performance with the orchestra himself as well, with soloists from the choir (for the other performance it will be faculty soloists). Later we have a concert, shared with the Concert Choir (so we only have half a program to learn) with three contemporary motets: James MacMillan's Sedebit Dominus Rex, Busto's Ave Maria, and a Crucifixus setting by one of our undergraduate composers, Ronald Harris, who sings in the choir; Jan Sandström's Biegga Luothe, a wonderful piece based on a Sami Yoik (the Sami are the indigenous people near the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia—when I grew up I knew of this as Lappland); then, for the 50th Anniversary of Professor Peter Schickele's "rediscovery" of P.D.Q. Bach, the Liebeslieder Polkas. If that isn't enough, we also combine with all three mixed choirs at the end of the year as the "Grand Chorus" to sing Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs and Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

So it's important for us to know that in every rehearsal that we're singing something at concert level, no matter how small. Most of our rehearsals will deal with lots of note-learning, but as I've stated before, even at that stage we need to start making music very early. And I'll try to remember Coyle's tip to make sure every rehearsal sees something that we perfect.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Guest post - Bruce Sellers on working with Ward Swingle

Bruce Sellers is an American tenor and conductor with a rather extraordinary background as an ensemble singer. After studying at the University of Georgia he went to Indiana University where he studied with the American Heldentenor James King. He also studied with Marcia Baldwin and Margaret Harshaw. At the same time he became involved in the Early Music Institute there. From 1985 to 1988 he sang with the wonderful all-male ensemble, Chanticleer. In 1988 he went to Amsterdam to study with Dutch baritone Max van Egmont (I was lucky enough to work with Max for 6 years at the Pacific Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane, WA from 1979-1985 when I was conductor, and again in 2009 leading a Messiah performance when my colleagues from Allegro Baroque got some of us back together, along with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra led by Stanley Ritchie, to celebrate their anniversary with the first complete performance of Messiah with period instruments in Spokane. Max, in his late 70's, still sang fantastically!). Bruce worked regularly as a soloist and free-lance singer, beginning to sing with the Netherlands Chamber Choir as a freelancer immediately. He then became a full-time member of the Chamber Choir in 1990, singing with them until 2005, when he returned to the US.

This choir, much like a number of other professional European choirs, worked more as an orchestra would do in the US, meaning an extraordinary number of concerts each year, some with the current music director, but many with guest conductors, meaning that Bruce sang with many (all?) of the outstanding conductors in Europe during this period (for example, Eric Ericson was long a regular guest conductor with this choir). Singers also had to be flexible and be able to adapt to many different styles, from early music to the latest avant-garde music. Frankly, I'm jealous of this incredible experience!

Following the my post on the recent death of Ward Swingle, which I also posted on Facebook, Bruce replied about working with Ward when he was with the Netherlands Chamber Choir. I asked for permission to post it here as a guest blog and Bruce agreed. Thanks so much, Bruce! Here it is:

I sometimes have to pinch myself to realize how blessed I've been in my life! Ward could be demanding and wasn't always diplomatic, in fact at times he was downright unpleasant, but it was always in pursuit of making things as good as they could be.

For us the challenges were that of the 8 singers he had to work with, 4 of us were native English-speakers who were also a bit familiar with the style he wanted. The others were Dutch and maybe not quite as at home in the style, but they were quick studies. We had to learn to sing with mikes, which is an art unto itself, especially mikes of the hand-held variety, plus the program had to be done totally off book, something else we weren't as familiar with doing (though in Chanticleer I had to memorize TONS of music!). Our rehearsal periods per project tended to be only about 2 weeks tops (about 10 3-hour rehearsals), but I think for this program we had maybe 3 weeks since it had to be from memory. At the same time, Ward was rehearsing 8 other singers from the choir for the other half of the program, which featured Berio's A-Ronne, which Berio had written for the Swingle Singers (it's a crazy piece and VERY hard).

It seemed to me that part of the reason that Ward was rather bitter at this time was that this was not long after the big court battle he had waged for the rights to his name. The New Swingle Singers wanted to disassociate themselves from him, but wanted to keep the name. He sued in order to retain control. From what little he said about it at the time one could tell it was a VERY sore point with him. What he particularly resented was that people would use his editions of his arrangements and then decide to arbitrarily to just change things here and there as they wanted. It really cheesed him off. Everything was to be done essentially "come scritto", as far as he was concerned, no exceptions!

A colleague in Holland just mentioned to me that she saw the Swingle Singers recently over there and that it appeared Ward had reconciled with the group, which is wonderful news. I remember his contention at the time was that the group (based in England, and calling itself "The New Swingle Singers"--Chanticleer performed with them in a festival in Holland in 1988) were using his name and doing his arrangements, but were changing the arrangements here and there at their whim, which greatly aggravated him. 

I can't remember exactly what was on our part of the program, but I remember Ward wrote a Cole Porter Medley specially for us that was quite difficult, but really lovely. We also did stuff like the Bach G minor Fugue, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Agincourt Song, When I'm 64, Ward's setting of "Roadside Fire", "All the Things You Are", and a thing called "Music History 101" that featured "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as done in various periods of music history (Mediaeval, Renaissance, Baroque, etc.), right down to a "rap" version, which featured yours truly. I was the only one who dared to do it (or who was stupid enough, take your pick!), but I had fun with it--yep, I came out in reversed ball-cap, sunglasses, and lots of bling necklaces--it WAS the mid-90s, y'know. Anyway, Ward loved it and relished telling me that I really was nothing but a "big ol' slice of pure Georgia ham", which is just what was needed!! Somewhere I actually have a cassette tape (remember those?!?) of one of those concerts, and I think on one of our compilation CDs of various choir performances Ward's version of "Roadside Fire" shows up (it's a lovely piece).

Pardon me for being so long-winded.....the memories tend to come flooding back all of a sudden!! Long & short of it: he was a brilliant man.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Building Skills 11

More from Daniel Coyle: Tip #14 "Break Every Move Down into Chunks."
This is something that most conductors know how to do, whether or not they know this terminology.
As Coyle says, "From the time we're small, we hear this good advice from our parents and teachers: Take it a little bit at a time. This advice works because it accurately reflects the way our brains learn. Every skill is built out of smaller pieces, what scientists call chunks."
His advice in terms of skills is to, "first engrave the blueprint of the skill on your mind." (see the post on Tip #2 "Then ask yourself:
  1. What is the smallest single element of this skill that I can master?
  2. What other chunks link to that chunk?
"Practice one chunk by itself until you've mastered it—then connect more chunks, one by one, exactly as you would combine letters to form a word. Then combine those chunks into still bigger chunks. And so on."
This is, of course, what we do when we rehearse. But I would also stress rehearsing the transitions from one chunk into another. That way you don't have chunks the choir can do easily, but can't string together. It doesn't take much time. Practicing one section or one phrase, just make the transition into the next one and then go back to practice again.
I remember that Lloyd Pfautsch, in his chapter on rehearsing in the Decker and Herford's Choral Conducting—A Symposium, suggests ranking the sections of a larger work by difficulty, then learning the toughest portions first to make sure they get more rehearsal time, rather than mindlessly starting at the beginning and working your way through in order. So, if there are 10 sections of a work and numbers 3, 6, and 9 are the most difficult, you'd begin by working on them, then gradually work on the others, connecting as you learn adjacent sections. Seems like common sense, but it's really a brilliant statement about how to approach larger pieces (this doesn't only mean major works, but any work which is multi-sectional).
Of course, you can also do that with your whole program, even if it's all shorter pieces: rank them in terms of which ones will take the most rehearsal time and plan accordingly. This is probably what most conductors do, but somehow in rehearsing larger works it can be forgotten.
Skills, not just rehearsals can (and should) be taught in this way, too. This analogy comes from a short article on coaching Lacrosse: "Think about how small children become mobile. First they crawl, then they learn to stand and eventually they take those first steps. Once they have mastered walking, the pace increases and they’re off and running."
In teaching young singers to sing properly you have to start with fundamental skills and master them (which also means constant reinforcement): first posture, then breath, then learning to use the breath to phonate, etc. Steps are taken gradually to build up the skill of making a good vocal (and choral) sound.
Look to see if some of the things you're trying to teach your choir have been broken down into small enough chunks for the choir to learn them properly. It's the way skills (and music) are built, from the ground up, one chunk at a time.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ward Swingle dies (age 87)—Another significant passing in the choral world

Another significant passing from our choral world—Ward Swingle, who helped create and maintain a new melding of classical music and jazz.

You can read more about his life in the brief Wikipedia article linked above (which comes primarily from his website).

Ward was an amazing musician, pianist, and singer whose Swingle Singers, currently called The Swingles, went through numerous versions from their founding in Paris, then a number of versions in London, both with Ward and post-Ward.

Besides their jazz, they became known in the orchestral world for Luciano Berio's Sinfonia in a part that was sung by them around the world.

The Swingle Singers will be singing at TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) on Feb. 11. If you haven't heard them before, might be a good time to go (and TMEA is always fabulous!).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Building Skills 10

Hi all—hope you've had a great break and are ready to get back to work! This skills series continues:
More from Daniel Coyle: Tip#14 "Take Off Your Watch"
This has to do with our own preparation and practice.
Coyle says, "Deep practice is not measured in minutes or hours, but in the number of high-quality reaches and repetitions you make—basically, how many new connections you form in your brain."
He's saying to ignore the clock and focus on the sweet spot (see the last post) when you work, concentrating on depth of work, or repetitions practicing, not on time. I've written earlier about Thomas Sterner's book, "The Practicing Mind—Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Mind," and it has great ideas about this as well.
Slow, thorough, focused work—on score study, on improving your rehearsal or conducting technique—this is the work we need to do. Finding the time to do this work is often the challenge, but as Sterner points out, the kind of slow, deliberate work he describes (read his description in the blog post of tuning two pianos with that mindset), your work will often be more, not less, effective and efficient.
As much as anything, it's about your own mindset and approach. Try it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Seattle Pro Musica - History/Repertoire 1973-1980

As I've often stated, my work with the many musicians that made up Seattle Pro Musica in the first part of my career was my real graduate education (nothing against either my work at the UW for an MM or at CCM for my DMA!).

I started the groups that became SPM because I had repertoire I really wanted to do and starting my own group was the way to get there.

Eric Ericson has stated that repertoire is how a choir and conductor grow and I certainly agree. It was through the combination of learning, rehearsing, and conducting this repertoire with the wonderful people who sang and played with me that I was able to learn as much as I did during those seven years from age 23 to 30.

Season One - 1973-74

In 1973 I started a chamber choir, but it was under the auspices of the Thalia organization (which is still going strong as an orchestra). In reality, they didn't supply much—I did all the organization, auditions, found rehearsal and performance spaces, etc. They did help with players for our first concert, which included the Vivaldi Magnificat. I don't have programs for the first season (with one exception), just the posters, and all dates aren't clear. But this was the beginning:

Dec. 9, 1973
Mendelssohn Aus tiefer Not (with David DiFiore, organist)
Vivaldi - Magnificat

I don't have a date for the second program, but it was done in the Spring at the Seattle Art Museum's concert hall with Gary Hatle, pianist:
Schumann - Zigeunerleben
Schubert - Der Gondelfahrer
Schubert - Spanisches Liederspiel
Brahms - Zigeunerlieder

May 26, 1974 - The third program was advertised as "Three Early Baroque Magnificats by Heinrich Schütz & Claudio Monteverdi. I know one of the Schütz settings was the so-called Uppsala Magnificat, the only setting of his in Latin. We likely did one of the German settings as well. And it's very likely that we did the Monteverdi setting with organ from the 1610 Vespers—the edition I would have used then was . . . interesting . . . with an intricately written out ornamented organ part. Wouldn't think of it today!

Season Two - 1974-75

Since we weren't getting real support from Thalia, we struck out on our own, renaming the group the Aeolian Singers (a name which stuck for several seasons). I also began a group called the Seattle Bach Ensemble that fall (it became just the Bach Ensemble in 1978, when we started performances in Bellevue as well). It was modeled after Helmuth Rilling's Kantat-Fest programs at the Gedächtniskirche in Stuttgart (I'd attended rehearsals for one in 1972). Essentially, anyone who wanted could come on Saturday and rehearse a Bach cantata and then sing in the service on Sunday, which they did once a month. My idea was to do something similar, but have an auditioned group to sing and to do the performances Sunday evening, which we did at University Baptist Church the first year, afterwards at Central Lutheran Church. We auditioned for both singers and instrumentalists (a number of singers sang in both choirs) and got a very good response. The choir rehearsed Saturday morning and then overlapped with the orchestra, so we could run the choruses and chorale with everyone. I then rehearsed the orchestra and soloists. Our dress rehearsal was before the program Sunday evening. Arias with one or two obbligato instruments or just continuo were often rehearsed beforehand, usually at the home of Howard Hoyt, who was our regular continuo player.

I was crazy enough to think of doing two cantatas each month, which was far too much. It only lasted that season. However, I was beginning to think of what I was doing as something long-term, not just as something to do as a student. So we changed course and combined both groups late in the season for the Bach Mass in B Minor . . . and then incorporated in the summer of 1975 as a non-profit organization as Seattle Pro Musica—that being the umbrella organization under which these two ensembles would fit.

Unfortunately, I don't have all programs from that time period, so can't identify all repertoire. The Aeolian Singers program for January 26 is very challenging, so perhaps that was the first of the season. But here goes:

Nov. 3, 1974 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #129 Gelobet sei der Herr

Nov. 17, 1974 - Cantata #93 Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten

Dec. 1, 1974 - Cantata #36 Schwingt Freudig euch empor

Dec. 15, 1974 - Cantata #110 Unser Mund sei voll Lachens

Jan. 19, 1975 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #143 Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele & 51 (Nancy Zylstra, soloist for Jauchzet Gott)

January 26, 1975 - Aeolian Singers (also at University Baptist)
Clemens non Papa - Dona nobis pacem
Stravinsky - Ave Maria
Palestrina - Sicut cervus
Purcell - Rejoice in the Lord Alway (with strings)
Mozart -  Ave verum
Vivaldi - Domine, ad adjuvandum me (double string orchestra)
- intermission-
Britten - Choral Dances from 'Gloriana'
Poulenc - Un soir de neige
Copland - Long Time Ago & Ching-a-ring Chaw

Feb. 2 - Bach Ensemble
Cantata #177 - Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ

Feb. 16 - Bach Ensemble
Cantata #46 - Schauet doch und Sehet

June 6, 1975 - Mass in B Minor - University Presbyterian Church
Soloists were Diane Christopherson and Nancy Zylstra, sopranos; Margaret Russell, alto; Horace Beasley, tenor; and Gene Lysinger, bass.

Season Three - 1975-76

The third season was the first where we were fully incorporated and operated a board. It's also the first for which we had a season brochure, rather than individual flyers for concerts or groups of concerts. And . . . it was much more ambitious. The Aeolian Singers had a full program of five concerts, the Bach Ensemble a full season as well, plus a new group called the Pro Musica Singers (a smaller ensemble—that lasted only this one season), and a Bach Festival planned for the summer with the B Minor Mass at the center.

Some of the ambition came because of a study tour I'd done with Bob Scandrett to England in the summer of 1975. Watching English groups (who worked incredibly quickly) I wanted my singers (and me) to be able to work more quickly. I also had the sense that whether we had 5 rehearsals or 10 (this is an exaggeration, of course) we'd accomplish much the same—if pressure was on, we'd work fast . . . if we had more time, we'd take more time. Not entirely true, but the group learned to work much faster.

Oct. 5, 1975 - Bach Ensemble (now at Central Lutheran Church) Cantata #80 Ein Feste Burg
After this program I got the following letter from composer Alan Hovaness, who attended:
Nov. 2, 1975 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #106 Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit, along with Telemann's Locke nur, Erde for soprano (Nancy Zylstra), recorder (James West) and continuo (we started doing other works on the programs in addition to the cantata)

Nov. 9, 1975 - Aeolian Singers - St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
C.P.E. Bach Magnnificat
Handel - Dixit Dominus
(soloists Zylstra, Christopherson, Russell, and Beasley)

Nov. 23 - Pro Musica Singers
Byrd - Mass for four voices (12 singers)
Bernstein - Choruses from 'The Lark' (sung with 7 solo voices)

Dec. 7, 1975 - Bach Ensemble
Bach Magnificat

Dec. 19 - Aeolian Singers - University Methodist Temple
Jean Langlais The Nativity (solo organ - David DiFiore)
Tippett - Magnificat (choir & organ)
Distler - Singet Frisch und Wohlgemut
Marcel Dupre  - Sketch in B-flat Minor (solo organ)
Poulenc - Four Christmas Motets

Jan. 4, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #147 Herz und Mund und That und Leben

Feb. 1, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #8 Liebster Gott and a recorder sonata by Telemann

Feb 20, 1976 - Aeolian Singers with Anita Rodin, pianist - University Methodist Temple
Mendelssohn - Psalm 100 Jauchzet dem Herrn; Die Nachtigall; Richte mich, Gott
Schubert - Der Gondelfahrer
Schumann - Zigeunerleben
Brahms - Motet, Op. 29 #1 -Es ist das Heil
             - Motet, Op. 29 #2 - Schaffe in mir, Gott
Wolf - Sechs Geistliche Lider

March 7, 1976 - Bach Ensemble
Fiocco (arr. Harry Schulman) - Adagio for Oboe and Strings (Ivan Schulman, oboe)
Marcello - Cello Sonata in C Major (Germaine Morgan, cello)
Bach - Sinfonia to Cantata #156 (Ivan Schulman, oboe)
Bach - Cantata #112 - Der Herr is mein getreuer Hirt

March 9, 1976 - an essentially orchestral program with singers from the Aeolian Singers for the Vaughan Williams
Telemann - Concerto for Four Violins
Rossini - String Sonata #3 in G
Vaughan Williams - Flos Campi (Janet Lynch, viola solo)

March 12, 1976 - we presented the Gallery Singers, conductor Frederick Carter, at Central Lutheran Church

April 4, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Bach - Easter Oratorio

Somewhere in here a a recital of Baroque solo and chamber music (Bach, Telemann, Pepusch, Quantz, and Handel)

April 13, 1976 - Aeolian Singers
Monteverdi - 1610 Vespers (my first performance of this great piece)

May 2, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #146 Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal

June 6, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata#172 Erschallet ihr Lieder

June 11, 1976 - Aeolian Singers - St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Purcell - Come, Ye Sons of Art
Bach - Lobet den Herrn
Debussy - Trois Chansons de Charles D'Orleans
Holst - I Love My Love
Vaughan Williams - The Dark-eyed Sailor
P.D.Q. Bach - The Queen to Me a Royal Pain Doth Give and My Bonnie Lass She Smellelth

Then the summer Bach Festival with 3 concerts:
July 21, 1976 - chamber music by La Chantarelle: music by Rameau, Bach, Couperin, and Marais
July 22, 1976 - an organ recital by Howard Hoyt at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Mercer Island
August 3, 1976 - Bach Mass in B Minor at Meany Hall, University of Washington

Season Four - 1976-77

Still a few missing (or undated) programs. I also had to change cantatas a couple times because music didn't arrive in time. Not so many Bach cantatas published with parts and easy to get! We sometimes used handwritten parts from the Drinker Library in Philadelphia, which was often interesting since there were frequent mistakes.

Oct. 3, 1976 - Bach Ensemble
Schütz - Fili mi, Absalon with the Seattle Trombone Quartet and Peter Ashbaugh, bass
Cantata #20 had to be substituted, as music for Cantata 43 didn't arrive

Nov. 9, 1976 - Aeolian Singers - Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
Mozart - Epistle Sonata in C (K. 336) for organ and strings
Mozart - Requiem, ed. Beyer

Nov. 14, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - at the German Church on Capital Hill
Handel - Organ concerto, Op. 4, #2 (Randall Jay McCarty, soloist)
Bach - Cantata #43 (finally!) Gott fähret auf mit Jachzen

Dec. 5, 1976  - Bach Ensemble (back at Central Lutheran)
Corelli - Christmas Concerto Grosso
Bach - Magnificat

Jan. 9, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Mozart - Exsultate, Jubilate (Nancy Zylstra, soloist)
Bach - Cantata #105 Herr, gehe nicht ins Gerichts

Jan. 25, 1977 - Aeolian Singers
Bach - Cantata #106 - Gottes Zeit ist die Allerbeste Zeit
Haydn - Part Songs (Rick Asher, pianist)
Hindemith - Six Chansons
P.D.Q. Bach - Two Madrigals from "The Triumphs of Thusnelda"

Feb. 6, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Concerto for Four Violins alone
Schütz - Der Zwölfjährige Jesus im Tempel
Cantata #41 Jesu, nun sei gepreiset

April 5, 1977 - Aeolian Singers + Bach Ensemble - First Presbyterian Church
Bach - St. Matthew Passion

May 1, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Solo cantata #28 from Der Harmonische Gottesdienst
Bach - Cantata #8 - Liebster Gott, wann werd' ich sterben

May 31, 1977 - Aeolian Singers, University Methodist Temple - In Memoriam Benjamin Britten
A Hymn of St. Columba
Jubilate Deo
Festival Te Deum
Choral Dances from 'Gloriana'
Simple Symphony
Rejoice in the Lamb

June 5, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Concerto in G for Four Violins
Cantata #27 - Herr Jesu Christ, wahr'r Mensch und Gott

Season Five - 1977-78

Season Five saw a new ensemble, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, which was made up of most of the same players that had played for the Bach Ensemble or for the major works I did with the Aeolian Singers, but wanted to do chamber orchestral literature on their own (I did, too, of course!). The Aeolian Singers entered their last season of going by that (not great) name—after this season they became the Pro Musica Singers. We also sponsored a recital series, primarily with Nancy Zylstra this season.

Oct. 2, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Schütz - Freuet euch des Herrn
J.C. Bach - Arsinda (concert area for soprano—Nancy Zylstra—and solo flute, oboe, and violin with orchestra)
Bach - Cantata #11 - The Ascension Oratorio

Oct. 21- Recital Series - Seattle Concert Theatre
A complete performance of Wolf's Italienische Liederbuch with Nancy Zylstra, soprano; Michael Deviny (now Delos), baritone; and Christopher Arpin, piano

Nov. 6, 1977 - Bach Ensemble (we also did a run-out of this program on Nov. 30 to Mercer Island)
Schütz - Die mit tränen säen, Saul
Alessandro Scarlatti - Su le sponde del Tebro
Bach - Cantata #18 - Gleich wie der Regen

Nov. 20, 1977 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra - Seattle Concert Theatre
Poulenc - Deux marches et un Intermede
Handel - Concerto Grosso, op. 3, #1 in B-Flat
Rossini - String Sonata #3 in C Major
Mozart - Piano Concerto in D Minor (K. 466) - Margaret Irwin-Brandon, fortepiano

Dec. 4, 1977 - Guest program of chamber music by Fiori Musicali (a recorder/harpsichord duo—Philip Dickey and Mary Ann Hagen—with guest violinist, recorder, and gamba)
Music by Cima, Frescobaldi, Scarlatti, Handel, Vivaldi, and Telemann

Dec. 9 & 10, 1977 - Aeolian Singers & Chamber Orchestra - Meany Hall, University of Washington
Handel - Messiah (complete)

Jan. 8, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Schütz - Singet dem Herrn
Telemann - Concerto in E Minor for recorder and traverso
Bach - Cantata #39 Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot

Jan. 28, 1978 - Recital series program with Nancy Zylstra

Feb. 5, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - 3 arias from Harmonisches Gottesdienst (Zylstra, Philip Dickey on recorder, and Stephen Stubbs on lute)
Schütz - Musikalische Exequien, part III
Bach - Cantata #8 - Liebster Gott

Feb. 19, 1978 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Bartok - Rumanian Folk Dances
Elgar - Serenade for Strings
Mozart - Symphony #29 in A Major
Vivaldi - Laudate Pueri (solo cantata with Zylstra)

March 22, 1978 - Aeolian Singers, Bach Ensemble, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Bach - St. John Passion

April 2, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Suite in A minor
Schütz - Herr, unser Herrscher
Bach - Cantata #182 - Himmelskönig, sei willkommen

May 7, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Schütz - Deus Misereatur Nostri
Vivaldi - Concerto in G minor for two mandolins
Bach - Cantata #26 - Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig

May 21, 1978 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Vivaldi - Concerto for four Violins, op. 3, #10
Rossini - Sonata for Strings, #6, in D Major
Mozart - Serenade #12 in C minor (K. 388)
Haydn - Cello Concerto in C (Ron Wilson, soloist)

June 4, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Bach - Cantata #76 - Die Himmel erzählen
Fiocco - Lamentations
Telemann - Trauer-Kantate Du aber, Daniel, gehe hin

June 25, 1978 - Aeolian Singers - St. Mark's Cathedral
Monteverdi - Vespers of 1610
This was a much better performance than in 1976, done as a pre-convention event for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.

Season Six - 1978-79
This season saw the Bach Ensemble move to period instruments and do concerts twice, once in Seattle and once in Bellevue. This was a major change and we started paying both singers (we went to 12) and players. The recital series was much more varied, with different musicians on each recital. I also began work on my MM in conducting at the University of Washington in this year.

Oct. 1, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
J.C. Bach - Arsinda
Telemann - Laudate Jehova, omnes gentes
Handel - fourth "Halle" trio sonata in F
Bach - Cantata #66 - Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen

Oct. 15, 1978 - Recital Series
Michael Deviny, baritone with Robert DeCeunynck, piano - Lieder

Oct. 29, 1978 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Haydn - Octet in F for winds
J.N. Gayer - Symphony in E-flat
Sibelius - Romanza in C for Strings
Stravinsky - Eight Instrumental Miniatures

Nov. 6, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Bach - Lobet den Herrn
Corelli - Trio Sonata XII in D
Vivaldi - Concerto in G Major for two mandolins
Bach - Cantata #33 Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ

Nov. 17, 1978 - Recital Series
Gregg Carder, tenor - baroque repertoire with Ken Peterson and Vern Nicodemus

Dec. 3, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Corelli - Fatto per la notte di natale
Bach - Magnificat (in the Eb version with the Christmas interpolations)

Dec. 16 & 17, 1978 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra - Meany Hall, UW 
Bach - Christmas Oratorio 

Jan. 7, 1979 - Bach Ensemble with Duo Geminiani (Stanley Ritchie & Elisabeth Wright)
All-Bach program:
Lobet den Herrn
Brandenburg Concerto #4 in G
Harpsichord Concerto in E
Sonata in b minor (Duo Geminiani)
Cantata # 196 -  Der Herr denket an uns

Feb. 4, 1979 - Bach Ensemble
Cantata #199 - Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut (Nancy Zylstra)
Telemann  - Sonata in e minor for two transverse flutes (Janet See and Sand Dalton)
Bach - Jesu, meine Freude

Feb. 23, 1979 - Recital Series
Carter Enyeart, cello
Bach unaccompanied suites, numbers 2, 3, and 6

Feb. 25, 1979 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra - First Presbyterian Church
Mozart - Mass in C Minor

March 4, 1979 - Bach Ensemble
Vivaldi - Concerto in C Minor for recorder (David Ohannesian)
Frescobaldi - Four Correnti & Toccata in F (Margret Cornell, now Gries, harpsichord)
Bach - Cantata #78 - Jesu, der du meine Seele

March 23, 1979 - Recital Series
Nancy Zylstra & Stephen Stubbs

April 1, 1979 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Du aber, Daniel, gehe hin
Loeillet - Quartet in B Minor for two flutes, two recorders & continuo
Cantata #182 - Himmelskönig, sei willkommen

April 8, 1979 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Salieri - Symhony #19 in D
Not really sure of this program–I don't have one and the brochure lists Mozart's g minor, but it's on the June 3 program . . . perhaps this one was cancelled.

May 4, 1979 - Recital Series
Ronald Wilson, cello
Works by Boccherini, Beethoven, Ginastera & Rachmaninoff

May 6, 1979 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Erhalte mich, O Herr, in deinem Werke (I sang this one)
Frescobaldi - Canzona #2 in C & #5 in g minor
Bach - Cantata #75 - Die Elenden sollen essen 

June 3, 1979 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra
Mozart - Symphony #40 in g minor
Britten - Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (Howard Fankhauser, tenor; James Weaver, horn)
Mendelssohn - Richte mich, Gott & Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt
Brahms - Vier Ziegeunerlieder, op. 112
Ravel - Trois Chansons
Stallcop - Concerto for Double Bass (premiere), James Biedel, bass

Season Seven - 1979-80
This was to be my final season with Seattle Pro Musica. I was finishing up my MM at the University of Washington, had begun conducting for the Pacific Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane, WA in January (a period-instrument festival with instrumentalists from all over the US and, from 1980, the Dutch baritone Max van Egmond was a regular soloist—I would conduct at this festival through 1985), and ended up taking a position at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts starting in the fall of 1980. We didn't have a recital series this season. The Bach Ensemble did fewer concerts (expensive when all musicians are paid), but we brought in Carlo Novi to lead the strings and Stanley Ritchie as well for one concert.

Oct. 18, 1979 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra (First Presbyterian Church)
Beethoven - Symphony #1 in C
Haydn - Harmoniemesse

Nov. 4, 1979 -  Bach Ensemble, with Carlo Novi, concertmaster
J.C. Bach - Symphony in G Minor (op. VI, #6)
Carissimi - Jephte
Haydn - Partita in F (Hob. II, #23)
Bach - Cantata #1 - Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern

Dec. 7, 8, 9, 1979 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra
Handel - Organ Concerto #5 in F Major (David DiFiore)
Handel - Messiah (Christmas portion)

Jan. 12, 13, 1980 - Bach Ensemble with the Duo Geminiani & Janet See (baroque flute)
E Major Sonata for Traverso & continuo
G Major Sonata for Violin & continuo
Cantata #12 - Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
Jesu, meine Freude
Brandenburg Concerto #5

Feb. 24, 1980 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra
Wolf - Italian Serenade
Clemens non Papa - Dona nobis pacem
Palestrina - Sicut cervus
Hassler - Ad Dominum cum tribularer
Mendelssohn - Four part-songs from op. 48
Poulenc - Salve Regina & Exultate Deo
Schubert - Symphony #5 in B-Flat

Apr. 20 1980 - Bach Ensemble, with Carlo Novi, concertmaster
Cantata #39 - Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot
(sorry, don't have this program, so only know the cantata that was performed)

May 17,18, 1980 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra
Bach - Mass in B Minor
A fitting way to conclude 7 seasons of wonderful music with great people!