Archived: Notes to the Chorus 2019

Listed in Reverse Chronological Order:


December 4, 2019

Hello, GVCC!

We are fast approaching our last regular rehearsal of the season, don’t forget your homework! Listen along with your part on Fantasia (twice, if you can) as well as Christmas Day, and Serenity if you can. That will give us the most success Friday for rehearsal (1:15 at Valley Pres, 1 O’clock if you’re helping stuff programs!)

It was spectacular to finally have the opportunity to hear you in the more resonant space at Valley Pres. You fill the room beautifully, and you are simply stunning with the mountain backdrop added to your full sound in that sanctuary.

Thank you all for a wonderful rehearsal process this semester. I look forward to our last rehearsal, dress, and concerts next week. I expect there will be a few jaws to pick up off of the floor next week!

See you Friday!

Aaron


November 25, 2019

Hello, GVCC!

What a productive rehearsal this afternoon!

Thank you so much for your work this afternoon. I know that it is nerve-wracking to watch a program or piece come together in parts, but the “stitching” you’ve been doing has been successful at putting the parts together. Your phrasing in On A Cold Winter’s Night is chilling, your sense of timing in Sure On This Shining Night is delicate, your precision and blend in Serenity rouse images of the “Magnum Mysterium,” and your running eighths in Fantasia are simply haunting. I want to thank you for the time you’ve been putting into these pieces and this program.

Next week, we will get to hear ourselves in the more resonant space of Valley Presbyterian, where we’ll be able to familiarize ourselves with the effect of the acoustic environment on our sound and our interpretation. I’m looking forward to the chance to hear you in a more resonant space!

As you are celebrating over turkey and dressing, I will of course advocate more listening time, especially with the Vaughan-Williams. In fact, I challenge you to find two points in the concert program to double-check with a piano or recording while you recover from the carbohydrates!

I look forward to seeing you all next Monday, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Aaron


November 24, 2019

Hello, GVCC!

As we’re working through the last phase of our rehearsal process, it is more important than ever that we keep retention high. Some of the important “stitching points” in the larger pieces are of particular importance, as we have reviewed them multiple times now. With such long times between rehearsals, this is bound to happen unless we put in decided time mid-week to refresh our memory. With that in mind, please find a time or two between upcoming rehearsals to listen, count, and/or sing through your parts with the recordings sent at the beginning of the rehearsal cycle. That way, we can hit the ground running each time we meet!

This is an amazing amount of music, much of it quite intricate. You are continuing to do wonderful work, and it shows as the program is coming into focus. Given the remaining rehearsals, I know we will be ready to wow audiences by concert-time! 

In your listening time, pay special attention to style across the program and to your independent part in tunes like Sure On This Shining Night, Serenity, Fantasia, and Christmas Day. A few minutes with the recordings will pay enormous dividends in rehearsal.

I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow for the best part of Monday!

Aaron


November 13, 2019

Hello, GVCC!

I’m glad to be coming to you today on a Wednesday, how exciting!

Thank you ever so much for your readiness to move around on Monday to accommodate some sectional time, and thank you for the work you put into Most Wonderful Time, Hodie, and Bleak Midwinter. The shorter, jazzier tunes on this program have some deceptive difficulty when compared with the larger standard works on the program, and we’ll be digging into their crunchy harmonies a bit more as we move forward. 

Please keep your ear on the recording from earlier in the rehearsal period, especially the recordings of Sure on This Shining Night and Serenity. Try and spend a few minutes this week listening to those two while following along in your music. Challenge yourself to listen for your part, both the pitch and the text, to see if you can track it through and become comfortable with how you fit in the overall sound. Then! Challenge yourself to listen to someone else’s part, still both text and pitch. Since you know your own part so well, this will help you find how you fit with another piece of the puzzle. If you’re feeling extra musical this week, listen through once for each part! (Especially Serenity‘s million-part split)

I also thought I’d plug my recital this week. Some of you may have heard me mention a recital this week that has been looming for some time. My turn to run recital choir comes to a head this Thursday, November 14th, at 3 PM in room 232 at the Fred Fox School of Music. That’s upstairs on the West side of the building. It won’t last long, but it features six movements from six different masses written by Haydn, Mozart (two movements), Stravinsky, Schubert, and Hassler. It’s been both difficult and fun to put together with the Recital Choir, and I would love to see you there! It’s all free, so stop in if you’d like to hear.

Aaron


November 9, 2019

Hello, GVCC!

This week, I’d like to try something a tad different in rehearsal, sectionals! That way, the Sopranos and Altos will get to be productive while the Tenors and Basses work on In the Bleak Midwinter together. Not much will change from this, but there will be a point the Tenors and Basses will go with me to the Art Gallery while the Sopranos and Altos remain in the rehearsal room with Tamara to work on Hodie, Christus Natus Est and other tunes. We will return after a brief time and resume full rehearsal.

This week, I will offer a final opportunity to be heard for solo and small group auditions. If you would like to audition, see me during the break so that I can hear what you’ve got! I will give us a little extra time for the break to accommodate the photos, auditions, etc. that we’ll be taking care of this week. In the following week, I will make my final assignments to distribute the solo opportunities and assemble any small groups that seem appropriate. Keep an eye out after next week for the assignments!

We really are making some wonderful progress, and I hope everyone is very proud of the work you’re putting into this program. It is shaping up to be an effective and moving program that I know our audience will enjoy!

Thank you for all your hard work, artistic interpretation, and commitment to retention week to week. I don’t make a sound, it’s you who are the music-maker!

Aaron


November 1, 2019

Hello Chorus! 

I hope you are all having a wonderful week and looking forward to this week’s rehearsal like I am. 

We made a lot of great progress with Christmas Day and Serenity on Monday, and we’ll continue to get comfortable with those two while we finish introducing the tutti sections of the Vaughan-Williams. Feel free to take a look at them to refresh your memory before rehearsal! 

We’ve done wonderful work with our “windy” interpretation of All On A Cold Winter’s Night, keep it up! That will make a very nice opening for our concert, it’s sure to make an impression! 

This week, I’d also like to spend some time with the colorful chords in The Most Wonderful Time, getting confident with the part independence in Sure On This Shining Night, and spending some quality time with Hodie Christus Natus Est. 

I wish you all a musical weekend, and I’ll see you again soon for the best part of Monday! 

Aaron 


October 24, 2019

Greetings, Green Valley Community Chorus!

What a wonderful rehearsal this week, and a great kickoff to a spectacular week in my academic work!  Thank you for being part of setting my week up right.

As I said in rehearsal this week, we are looking to get highly specific in the coming weeks, making sure specific points in the program are as successful as possible before backing up to look at the larger picture again. This may be an onerous process compared with our previous rehearsals, but I will ask you to bear with me as we put together the many pieces that will make this program shine.

Additionally, we are looking forward to two things next week that are out of the ordinary. The first is Elizabeth Wells’ class working on breath support and vocal production before rehearsal! Elizabeth teaches voice to many of our members and is excited to work with us to get the best, purest, healthiest sound we can muster as we work up this hefty program before us. We want our forte sections to be full and our piano sections to be well supported. Elizabeth can help us with all of these things! She has experience with the opera scene in Chicago as well as experience with the voice as it changes and settles throughout life. Come on out and see her next Monday at 12:30!

After rehearsal next week, we will be holding auditions for the many solos that are part of this program. There are opportunities for the solo parts of this program to be broken up among approximately twenty different singers, so come on out and audition! We’ll go directly from rehearsal into another, yet undetermined room in CPAC to hear you individually and plan out the solo options. I hope to hear as many voices as I can!

I look forward to the best part of next Monday! 

Best,

Aaron Rice


October 15, 2019

Hello Everyone!

… and congratulations on having touched every tune on the program for December! Some of them we’ve only read down, and some of them have only been rehearsed in chunks. I think it’s important to see everything as early in the rehearsal process as possible, though.

You sang wonderfully this week, and I will continue to encourage you to adopt some of the breathing and stretching exercises into your individual work at home. Just a few minutes a day can drastically improve your lung capacity and have you singing twice as full in no time!

Now that we’ve seen some of everything, we’ll start digging into the minutiae of each tune. Be prepared for a little more section work, which will ask a little more patience of you while you wait for another section that has the floor. Fear not, though! I am working on identifying which bits need the most attention and will separate us for some sectionals in the coming weeks.

Also, if you are interested in any solo opportunities, your time is coming! I will spend some time next week briefly viewing some of the several solos in this program, and we will start auditions on Monday, October 28th. That gives you two weeks to identify your favorite solo and prepare for auditions. I look forward to making several close decisions!

As promised, I write to you bearing the details of my upcoming concert with the Arizona Choir. We will be singing alongside the Symphonic Choir in a concert titled (Im)mortal on Sunday, October 20th at Catalina United Methodist Church at 3 PM. The concert will include Effortlessly, Love Flows, by the contemporary composer Aaron Jay Kernis (an absolute pleasure to sing. Some pages change meter every bar!), a stunning Brahms motet, and an arrangement of the Broadway tune The Color Purple, in which I will be singing a gospel-inspired improvisatory solo. I hope to see many of you there, it is shaping up to be a wonderful concert!

In Harmony,

Aaron

Aaron Rice

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus


October 14, 2019

Hello Everyone!

I hope everyone has had a great week! I was so glad to hear what a great sound GVCC has, and you all read and rehearse wonderfully. I’m looking forward to a great rehearsal cycle, and I can already tell we will have a fantastic concert if we keep working as well as we did at the first rehearsal.

This week, we’ll be digging into Christmas Day and Fantasia on Christmas Carols, hitting many of the tutti carol sections, particularly the humming in the Vaughan-Williams. We’ll also revisit Serenity to shore up the work we did last week on the split choir material. Ideally, by the end of rehearsal this week we will have sung every tune on the program at least once.

This week, I’ll also be spending some time on breathing exercises meant to help us make it though the incredibly long phrases, particularly in Serenity. I would encourage you all to take note of some of them and add them to your practice time at home!

I look forward to our upcoming rehearsal and getting into the rest of the program!

Aaron


All–welcome our new Artistic Director, W. Aaron Rice!  Here is a note from Aaron that talks about his background and his plans for this Summer.  I know that we all wish Aaron well in his new role!  Thanks–Brian Graaf

May 6, 2019

Hello GVCC Singers!

I began as a wind band student, playing the trombone through grade-school in Alabama and Arkansas, my undergraduate studies at Hendrix College, and even my master’s degree in composition here in Tucson. While I was at Hendrix, I enrolled in the Hendrix College Choir and quickly fell in love with the choral idiom. I immediately sought student leadership positions in the choir and began assembling independent vocal groups like Pitching and Screaming A Cappella and multiple barbershop quartets over the years.

Before moving to Tucson, I was the Artistic Director for the Saline County Community Orchestra, a volunteer-based amateur ensemble meant to provide musicians in Saline County, Arkansas, and the surrounding areas an opportunity to continue to play when school programs no longer serve them. I was President and Executive Director of the nonprofit Dimensions Fine Arts, a fine-arts umbrella organization I founded around the SCCO to further the access and availability of fine arts in Saline County and the surrounding areas.

After moving to Tucson, I immediately sought directorship of the local Phi Mu Alpha Men’s Chorus and began a tradition of performing joint works with an independent women’s chorus that is still in place. I worked with The University of Arizona Middle School Outreach Band program, where I rehearsed advanced middle school band students on Saturday mornings, and upon finishing my Master’s Degree I was able to move into teaching and directing music at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church. BSLC is where I cultivated my hand for choral directorship, working with an accomplished group of musically-inclined volunteers with a passion for music that brings the best out of them. The BSLC and I continue to work together toward a better sound each week at rehearsals.

Having trained as a composer, I remain active writing for the stage and the screen. I have recently achieved a long-term goal of scoring a film and have two student short films in my portfolio that I hope to use to enter the industry. In fact, I am attending a summer program this July in Pavia, Italy, that focuses on music composed for the screen. I believe that the composer’s perspective on analysis is useful and informative when interpreting works for group performance, and I hope that you will all see that when we begin rehearsing together in the Fall!

Best,

Aaron

P.S. (At the risk of seeming brash and crass) I would be remiss if I were not to mention the fundraising efforts I’m undergoing as I prepare for Italy this Summer. In case there might be anyone who would care to see it, share it, or contribute, I have included below a link to the crowd-funding web-page that has helped me secure a lot of the funds I will need to attend the program. Please do with it however much or little you think is appropriate.

https://www.gofundme.com/ScreenMusicAcademy


PLEASE NOTE:  ARCHIVED NOTES TO THE CHORUS FOR THE WINTER 2019 SEMESTER FROM DIRECTOR AARON RICE START ABOVE…THANK YOU FOR VISITING!


March 21, 2019

My Dearest GVCC,

I’ve been putting off writing this because I don’t want the experience to end. That’s a bit silly of me, I know. However, just like a difficult passage in a piece of music, shying away from it doesn’t do anybody any good, so in true Todd fashion, I’m going to go straight to the crux of the matter.

You guys sang beautifully. There were transcendent highs, excited whispers, bloodcurdling shrieks, jubilant declamations and artistry up the wazoo all night long. There were many high points of the program for me–Circle of Saints of course, the Old  Songs finally locked in, Lunar Lullaby was truly beautiful, Sentimental Journey was fantastic (Murry, your piano skills are amazing and make me jealous,) and I simply can’t thank you enough for taking ownership of Pete’s “Til We Meet Again”. Add one more experience to make that song even more unforgettable for me. The houses on both days were wonderfully impressive and I can’t wait to get the report from Dee as to how we did at the door. However, even discounting the dollar amount, I think we can safely declare our last performance together an unqualified success.

When working on a temporary assignment like the two-year directorship of the Green Valley Community Chorus, it is my belief that the director should follow the Campfire Rule: leave things better than they were when you arrived. I think we’ve done it: financially, artistically, and communally, I think this choir is in a better place than it was when I assumed the artistic director position two years ago. I am content. 🙂

As I’ve mentioned in the past, it helps me when the powers-that-be at the University of Arizona hear about the work we’ve been doing. If you’re so inclined, a note to Moises Paiewonsky, Miguel Felipe or Ed Reid in the School of Music only burnishes my reputation and standing all the more. 🙂 Moises was actually at our concert on Monday night as was very appreciative of our work!

It has been an honor and a privilege to work with you all. You are an amazing bunch of witty, talented, acerbic, compassionate, insistent, obstinate, persistent, and robustly creative musicians and I thank you for trusting me. You were willing to go along for the ride no matter what zany road I drove us down. Several of you yesterday confessed to me about moments you thought I was out of my mind and how we could never achieve the agenda I laid out. Thank you for ultimately believing in me and in believing what we can do as a team. You’re an excellent choir and you should never settle for any less than the best a director can give you. You’re too talented for half measures and I promise you, as soon as I find out who next year’s director is, I’m going to do everything I can to speak to that person. Not only to tell them what to expect, but to tell them to take good care of one of the best choirs I’ve ever worked with under any circumstances. You are amazing.

My email is todd.wachsman@gmail.com. Please keep in touch. I plan to keep you informed of what I’m up to for as long as you care to hear about it. 🙂 Thank you again for the beautiful baton case, the absurdly unnecessary-but-incredibly-generous-and-appreciated check and most especially the yearbook-style “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”. Thank you for the numerous cards and gifts–you truly went above and beyond. What I did, I did because that’s the way I direct…I’ve seen the way other people work and I feel that everybody has their own style, but this is the one that works for me. How blessed we are that our methods meshed so well! 🙂

Thank you once again for the pleasure of sharing music with you. You are in my heart and I will treasure this experience always. I love you all. I wish you always and every success in the future.

Farewell, Green Valley Community Chorus!

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director Emeritus, Green Valley Community Chorus


March 19, 2019

GVCC,

What a remarkable performance tonight, my friends. Grand Night was the perfect starter, Jabberwocky was the most exciting it’s ever been, and The Parting Glass was incredibly moving. You sang with focus and direction  and invested the sound with understanding and musicianship. The small group sang beautifully and I watched the smiling faces in the audience during Janet and Murry’s “Sentimental Journey” It was truly an extremely fine concert!

Tomorrow, we will run through “The Old Songs” in the chapel before we head out. That piece just takes a minute to wrap our heads around, so a little check-in with it will go a long way towards keeping it on track. We had a scary moment in the “Ave Maria”, but gosh darn if you all didn’t somehow manage to wrangle two separate choirs back on track after a shaky moment. Well done, gang. We’ll see what we can do to shore that up tomorrow as well.

Thank you thank you thank you for Til We Meet Again. That was truly beautiful.

And thank you for the baton and the baton case! They’re just gorgeous and they engraving on them is something I will treasure always. Thank you for the gift. It was incredibly thoughtful.

And did you SEE that house?!?!? I don’t know that we had that many there for Christmas!!! You’ve outdone yourselves with selling tickets and selling the concert. Thank you for keeping the contract with the community and making sure the Green Valley Community Chorus gives back.

Let’s do it all again tomorrow, gang. Once more, into the breach! Be proud of what you accomplished tonight. Until then…

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus



March 16, 2019

GVCCites,

The hour is nigh! We have a truly lovely program with a truly dizzying variety of styles: moments for huge choral sound, instances of heartfelt solo song, and all of it laced with Mary Lou’s inimitable piano stylings. Thank you for yesterday’s rehearsal. We’re in a good place.

Monday’s dress rehearsal will consist of running through the entire program in order. We will NOT sing all of every song, but I do want you to at least see how the flow is going to work. We’ll check in with reminders at the start of each piece. A few things to think about:

-What is the piece about?

-What is my emotion in this piece?

-What am I trying to convince/persuade/demand from the audience?

Honestly, guys? I’m not even worried about the notes. We’ve got those down. The notes and the rhythms are the LEAST of the music and we’re well beyond that. Performance time is when we bring the emotion to the forefront and trust the last few weeks of rehearsing to fill in the musical technicalities. We are primed to go, so on Monday we’ll touch each piece to remind ourselves what we’re doing and call it done!

Thank you all for your sensational work this semester! I’m not going to get all sappy on you yet because we still have work to do (and I cry at the drop of a hat anyway. I’m not kidding, I’ll cry at the opening of a bank.) and we’ll keep focused until our work is done. We’ll have plenty of time for that stuff once the concerts are well and truly concluded.

If you still have people that you haven’t invited to the concert yet, this would be a glorious weekend to drop them a line! Let’s fill that hall one final time, my friends.

I wish you a beautiful weekend and look forward to sharing the stage with you next week. Be bold. Be brave. Be brilliant.

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus


March 13, 2019

Dear GVCCr’s,

Our energy, presence, delivery on Monday were really, really excellent. Thank you all for continuing to strive for new heights in performance–it really is what makes this art worthwhile. If you’re anything like me, you leave our performances and go home and take a nap. 🙂 We expend a lot of energy to make these concerts happen, but these concerts can make a day better or give a new gift (an unheard song) to somebody who needs one. The arts have power, my friend. When we talk about great cultures of the past, what features prominently in those descriptions? There are many things, but almost always we discuss the poetry/prose/architecture/music/painting/sculpture. The arts are central to the human experience and I thank you for helping make that a reality in the Green Valley Community Chorus.

ALL MUSIC IS FAIR GAME. We still start with the pieces that have organ (Jabberwocky, 76 trombones and Circle of Saints) and also John Snavely will be with us. John will be playing on Circle of Saints and on Lunar Lullaby, so those pieces will also be near the top. Additionally, we will run Shut de Door near the beginning to get Joel and Wendy on the percussion instruments. After that…EVERYTHING is wide open! It might be a good idea to mark the music with tabs so that you can turn to the correct piece at a moment’s notice.

Please place your music in your folder in concert order! The order is as follows:

It’s a Grand Night for Singing
Moon River
Father William
Jabberwocky
Old Irish Blessing
In the Still of the Night (sm group only)
The Parting Glass
Neighbor’s Chorus
INTERMISSION
The Old Songs (T & B Only)
76 Trombones
Love is a Many Splendored Thing
Sentimental Journey (Janet and Murry only)
Lunar Lullaby
Shut De Do
Ave Maria
Til We Meet Again
Circle of Saints

This really is a lovely program, my friends. There’s old stuff, new stuff that reminds us of old stuff and I couldn’t have made a better choice for this program than Janet and Murry singing Sentimental Journey. All the pistons are firing, friends. All we need now is a racetrack upon which to run. 🙂

Please let me know if you have any questions about the music…I’m still available to guide if you need it. Otherwise, I will see you on Friday!!

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus



March 10, 2019

Dearest GVCC,

I was incredibly proud of the work we did on Friday! Several of those pieces are performance ready–as I said, it’s just a matter of focusing our intent so that the FIRST time through is the BEST time through. 🙂 The sound is great. Keep it in mind as we close in on our final few rehearsals.

Monday’s rehearsal will include:

–76 Trombones

–Circle of Saints

–Jabberwocky

–Neighbor’s Chorus

–Lunar Lullaby

–Father William

–The Old Songs (S and A on break)

–The Parting Glass

–Love is a Many Splendored Thing

–Old Irish Blessing

Small group for In the Still of the Night, please remember we will meet at 12:45 to go over the music before the rest of the choir arrives. Janet G and Murry, we will also see if we can sneak a bit of time after rehearsal to let run Sentimental Journey in the space. I’ve spoken to the church about microphones and I think we’ve got the setup we need to mic both of you and the piano.

I’ve spoken to several of you who have been going gangbusters on selling tickets! Thank you thank you thank you! We really want to pack the house one more time together and you’re doing exactly what must be done to make that happen. Thank you for your energy and your commitment.

Have a wonderful Sunday, my friends. I will see you at Valley Presbyterian Church tomorrow!

Todd


March 5, 2019

Dear GVCC,

The greatest single thing that we need to work on for the concert is DICTION. What I find super interesting is that if we focus our energies on sharp, crisp articulation of the text, that single act fixes a host of other issues:

-We support better when we concentrate on our diction–this is a by-product of having a ready tank of air for giving extra oomph to those consonants.)

-Our rhythm improves–(beginnings and especially endings of word have a brilliant rhythmic snap.)

-Our facial expressions improve–(believe it or not, concentration on the text actually makes us connect BETTER with what we’re singing about. This may not even be happening on a conscious level, but I promise you that your faces are more engaged.)

Ergo, the thrust for Friday’s rehearsal is on the diction–making ourselves understood. Please understand, I don’t necessarily mean for you to enunciate until it is uncomfortable or painful. However, by concentrating on the clarity of your words, you are engaging a myriad of small muscles in the mouth as well as hooking up your breath support. Both of these things will result in not only text clarity, but in a stronger and more grounded musical performance as well.

I encourage anybody who is interested to attend Elizabeth Wells’ seminar on Friday! She is a thoroughly knowledgeable and excellent teacher and has helped MANY people in our group. I guarantee she is worth your time. Brian will be sending out the information regarding this seminar again in a separate note.

Please note that the seminar starts at 12:30 p.m.  The rehearsal hall is reserved for the seminar at this time and regular rehearsal seating will not be permitted until 1:15 p.m.  Seating is available in the CPAC lobby if you arrive for rehearsal prior to 1:15 p.m. and are not attending the seminar.  Thank you for your cooperation.  This should be a great seminar at no charge to GVCC members!

Everything is fair game from here on out, but here’s the order for Friday:

It’s a Grand Night for Singing

Moon River

Lunar Lullaby (Thomas will be joining us!)

Ave Maria

Shut De Do

Til We Meet Again

Jabberwocky

76 Trombones

Circle of Saints

Neighbors Chorus

One last thing: the music has almost gelled. We are at the stage now where certain passages of music become reflex and we know if we need to take a special breath to sing a particular phrase or if we need to imagine a tranquil blue ocean to sing this next section just right. The next step in our process is to sing the piece from the FIRST TIME to the very best of our ability. Does this take effort? You bet. As we rehearse, you all can hear how we sing something through once, then I’ll remind you of a couple of things, we sing it again and it’s vastly improved. This is really all I’m doing right now, gang: reminding. You KNOW what to do. We need to take the initiative to bring that performance to the FIRST time through from here until the concert. It needs to be our reflex to sing it at our utmost right out of the gate because that is exactly the scenario we will have the day of the concert. You definitely have it in you. Now you need to bring it to bear because it is the way you wish to perform, not just because Todd said so. This performance is all about YOU. The yahoo waving his arms at the front of the room is incidental. Once YOU take ownership of the music, the show becomes YOURS.

Thank you again, my friends. I will see you on Friday!

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus


February 27, 2019

Dearest GVCC,

Nice work on Monday. There are tricky sections in our program that you are simply singing as if you haven’t a care in the world (altos, I’m thinking of your line in Love is a Many-Splendored Thing) and I couldn’t be happier with our music-making. The next step for us, my friends, is to develop a pattern for performance. Each time we start a new piece, think about what we have covered in that piece: what is the MOST IMPORTANT THING that you need to remember when singing that work? What is the piece trying to say? How do we best communicate that to the audience? If it helps, I recommend writing something at the beginning of each piece. Things like “DICTION” (Jabberwocky), “WATCH OTHER PARTS AT ENTRANCES” (The Parting Glass), and “KEEP IT LIGHT AND BOUNCY” (Neighbor’s Chorus) to help set your brain on the right track BEFORE we ever open our mouths to sing. Any choir can settle into the groove of a piece of music two or three measures into the work. Excellent choirs know what they’re doing BEFORE they ever utter a single note and they start each piece with the character and style that best conveys the entire work from start to finish. WE…are an excellent choir. Keep striving for this goal!

For next week:

-Father William

-Jabberwocky

-The Parting Glass

-Neighbor’s Chorus

-Shut de Do

-Ave Maria

Please join me in congratulating our soloist for Til We Meet Again, Janet Funderburk! I’d like to issue a huge thank you to all who auditioned–it’s a blessing to have such an embarrassment of riches to choose from and it’s nice to know we have so many people who can sing it. I’d also like to lay out the small choir for Ave Maria:

Soprano: Betty Atwater, Eva Jenkins

Alto: Tamara Kahrimanis, Rosalee Cassiday, Janet Gerdes

Tenor/Bass: Roger Hinterthuer, Dennis Bonner, Sid LaFrance

I may add one more soprano for balance, but this is the core. I’ll be sending you all a list off the concert order soon…I just want to tweak a couple more things. Programming is a tricky business! I’m pretty good at it, but I promise you, it’s because I take a ton of time and care to try to make sure that everything balances just right to provide both the choir and the audience with the best experience possible. I’ll get it to you ASAP.

Small group for In the Still of the Night, we’ll meet from 4:00–4:30 next week.

Talk up the concert! Let’s fill  the house again and give people a reason to show up at VPC to hear us! Call friends, neighbors, family, dog-catchers, zoologists, hedge-fund managers, dental hygienists…whoever you know! This music is for EVERYONE and I want to cast our net as far as we can.

Lastly, thank you all for the joy you bring me every week. As many of you know, the process of attaining the doctorate can sometimes be exhausting. When I first decided to come back to Tucson to get my degree, the first thing I did was search for a choir of my own that I could conduct so that I still had *my* group in the midst of all of my University commitments. I am eternally thankful to Dr. Bruce Chamberlain for having the insight to assign me to the position of artistic director for the Green Valley Community Chorus. It gave me the choir I wanted, the autonomy I craved, and I inherited a truly incredible group of musicians to boot. You make the week worth it. Thank you all and have a wonderful week!

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus


February 20, 2019

Dearest GVCC,

I am overjoyed that we got all the way through Jabberwocky! It has a lot of shifts in characters, so I’ve been eager to get through all the notes so we can wrap our brains around the narrative stride. We’re still a month out from the concert, so we’re in very good shape.

I’d like to announce our soloists for the nostalgia spot: Janet and Murry performing Sentimental Journey! Not only is the music insanely appropriate, but they sound absolutely incredible. I guarantee it’ll be a high point of the concert!

Thomas might be delayed from joining us again next week as one of our colleagues has a concert at 3:00 pm. Since *I* am not going to be at this concert, (just TRY to keep me away from my GVCC on Monday!), Thomas’s presence will probably be required so the choir is not too severely compromised. However, we have supplied a list of all GVCC dates to Dr. Felipe, so we should have him with us soon. Next week, we will start with a simple run-through of Lunar Lullaby, which is the piece Thomas will be conducting. While we have covered all of the notes in this piece, I haven’t done too much else with it–I’d like to leave that up to Thomas so that it is truly has his artistic stamp on it. We’ll just run through it once at the top. For next week:

-Lunar Lullaby

-Circle of Saints

-It’s a Grand Night for Singing

-Old Irish Blessing

-Love is a Many Splendored Thing

-76 Trombones

-Jabberwocky (the whole thing!)

-Ave Maria

-Shut de Do

-Til We Meet Again

There are one or two more soloists I need to hear for Til We Meet Again, so I’ll have a decision for that after Monday’s rehearsal. I’d like to use the singers that we had for the Ave Maria small group as the final version.

We’re doing well, gang! THANK YOU for remembering so much of our work from one week to the next. It makes a tremendous difference in what we’re able to accomplish when we can BUILD off what we’ve done before rather than needing to re-teach everything from week to week. This is why we’ve been able to grow as we have over the last two years. Thank you for your passion, your time and your talent.

Have a lovely week!

Todd


February 12, 2019

Dearest GVCC,

The music is shaping up nicely. We’re still more than a month out from the concert and we already have a firm grip on several of the pieces. We’re doing fabulously, friends. Keep up the good work. A special thank you to Marilyn for running the treble sectional yesterday and to ALL of our section leaders for leading extra rehearsals. Your commitment helps us grow artistically and I feel truly blessed to get to work with you all.

Next week, the recipient of the Green Valley Community Choir DMA Scholarship will be joining us! Mr. Thomas Wininger is a second year DMA student and he’s positively itching to join us! He is going to be conducting the Lunar Lullaby and he’ll join us in the tenor section for the rest of the program (Mary, can we have a packet of music ready for Thomas on Monday?)

As I mentioned yesterday, if you would like to audition for the solo spot in the concert, we will hold those auditions next week. Please make sure you have your pianist or whatever instrument you would have for the performance. Also, this doesn’t HAVE to be a solo…it could be a duet or a trio or whatever you like. The point is, it’s an OPTIONAL spot for somebody to perform a song that is near and dear to them. I’ll determine which piece will fit in best with the program and set it accordingly.

IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT people…can we meet at 1:00 next week? I need to hear the solos at 4:00. Also, can we make sure that there is a room for us to hear the solos? In the lobby or the workshop again is fine.

For Monday:

-Jabberwocky. We’ll spend a good bit of time on this. I want to finish it and there are two more sections to go (Starting from “one two, one two and through and through…”)

-Neighbor’s Chorus

-Lunar Lullaby featuring Thomas Wininger

-Moon River

-Father William

-The Parting Glass

-Circle of Saints

SELL THOSE TICKETS! Thank you so much to Linda Sielkin for everything she does to get the tickets ready for us. Now it’s time to do our job and sell those little guys like our lives depended on it.

Have a wonderful week!

Todd


February 6, 2019

Dearest GVCC,

I’m really enjoying  our sound lately. Your responsiveness and willingness to try whatever cockamamie ideas I throw your way has really paid dividends in the last year. Thank you for your trust! We’ve now got ourselves one fine choir.

smiling emoji

Next week!

-It’s a Grand Night for Singing

-Til we Meet Again (please look at  the solo if you’d like)

-The Old Songs (TB) Neighbor’s Chorus (SA-Tamara on sectional- last few pages of piece.)

-Ave Maria (we’ll hear singers for the trio)

-Shut de Do

-The Parting Glass

-Circle of Saints

If you’re planning on singing in the small group for In the Still of the Night, we’ll meet again AFTER rehearsal on Monday. We’ll just leave the setup for the sectional in place and move the small ensemble into the other space when the dance class starts at 4.

It is NEVER too early to start talking up the concert! This program is a real grab-bag of different styles and sounds. Ergo, there should be something for everyone! Get the word out and make sure that people know what we’re doing. Again…we want to pack that house!

Have a beautiful week,  my friends!

Todd


January 29, 2019

Dear GVCC,

Yesterday in rehearsal, the sopranos and altos finished the sectional quicker than I expected. Due to this, we were even able to dip into another one of our pieces that I hadn’t even planned on working on. Do you realize what a luxury that is? The fact that we can not only learn the music accurately, musically and quickly, but can even pick up new material on the fly? Great work yesterday, my friends.

Thank you for the mighty response to Wachsman’s Vocal Studio! I’ll let you know what I’m able to manage very soon. And a SPECIAL thank you to Lynn Swan who has generously offered her music room as a space where I can hold lessons! Due to this, we would hold everything right in Green Valley. This simplifies things enormously. I’ll keep you all posted.

We did some very nice work on Parting Glass yesterday, gang. Could you do me a favor…could you go through the rest of the score and make markings like the ones I suggested yesterday? Specifically, I mean mark the places where you have a rest, but another voice leads the way into the next section. (i.e. measure 21, the sopranos lead the way into measure 22.) Once we had marked all of those places, we stopped having people jump the gun on those entrances. Let’s give ourselves a head start on the next rehearsal and get those markings in place now.

On next week’s menu:

-Jabberwocky

-76 Trombones (tutti)

-Love is a Many Splendored Thing (tutti)

-Father William

-Old Irish Blessing

-The Old Songs (Tenors and Basses sectional)

-Neighbor’s Chorus

Thanks again, all! Have a beautiful week!

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus

P.S.  One thing I forgot, gang!  Anybody interested in singing in the small ensemble, we’re going to meet next Monday at 1:00 PM.  We have a board meeting at 4, so we will not be able to meet after the rehearsal.  If you cannot be there at 1 but did want to sing in the small ensemble, please let me know ASAP and we’ll make accommodations.  Thanks–Todd


January 27, 2019

Dearest GVCC,

Now that we’re back into our once-a-week schedule, the time that we spend in-between rehearsals has suddenly gained in importance. We’re doing very well, but I encourage you to make a point of looking at your music during the week. Not to the point where you get sick of it, but enough so that you keep it in mind between sessions. This could be as simple as watching a video on youtube or listening to a recording from time to time. Whatever you can do that whets your appetite for the music we’re singing gets an A+ rating from your erstwhile conductor.

Tomorrow, we’ll address the following:

-Til We Meet Again

-The Parting Glass

-76 Trombones

-Love is a Many Splendored Thing

-Shut de Do

-Lunar Lullaby

-Ave Maria

Regarding the small ensemble, tomorrow Joyce will have copies of In the Still of the Night for everybody who wanted to audition for the small group. We will hold auditions for that group on Feb. 4. We will also hold auditions for all of the other solo material. Namely,

-Til we meet again

-Ave Maria

We’ll hold auditions at the end of rehearsal on Feb. 4th.

Have a beautiful Sunday and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Choir


January 22, 2019

Dear GVCC,

Of course, I’m hopefully improving as a conductor, but it is undeniable that you have improved as a choir. Our first rehearsal in the Fall of 2017 set a baseline for me, but I can confidently say that every new concert cycle that we’ve started since then has improved measurably. Yes, I’ll take some credit for that since I’m the yahoo calling the shots, but all the wisdom in the world makes no difference if the choir doesn’t respond. Your willingness and bravery and trust has resulted in a community that is greater than the sum of its parts. I’m truly impressed with where  this group is now when compared to  a year and a half ago.

We’ll keep working in this vein! We had a really good pace yesterday and made significant progress on several key pieces. We will continue this on Friday with the following pieces:

Circle of Saints

Jabberwocky

Neighbor’s Chorus

Old Irish Blessing

The Old Songs (TB only)

Lunar Lullaby

The Parting Glass

Moon River

I encourage you to seek  out these pieces on YouTube for your own education and enjoyment! I’ll share particularly good versions when I stumble across them, but I would never stop people from looking on their own. Every minute of exposure increases our understanding and every chorister who does it increases the collective knowledge of the group.

Keep up the brilliant work! We’re also in cold and flu season, so  do take care of yourselves as best you can. We want healthy singers!

We will hold auditions for solos very soon…probably Jan. 28 or Feb. 4. If you’d like any help preparing, I’m willing  to help however I can. Just let me know!

Be excellent, be creative, be brilliant,

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus


January 20, 2019

Dear GVCC,

Ahhhhhhh…thank you so much for Friday’s rehearsal! We’re doing extremely well…we’ve already looked at every single note of music in Father William (one of the tougher pieces on the program) and made excellent progress on Jabberwocky as well. Also, THANK YOU for your excellent reading of Circle of Saints. Listening to my computer beep-boop the song back to  me is one thing, but it’s an entirely different experience when you hear actual human souls singing something that you thought up. You sound amazing, guys. I’m not sure if you realize it, but Circle of Saints is the finale of the program. We’re well on our way to making it a truly amazing closer.

Tomorrow, we’ll address the pieces we haven’t started yet. These are:

-Love is a Many Splendored Thing

-It’s a Grand Night for Singing

-Till We Meet Again

Love is a Many Splendored Thing may end up as another small group, depending on how things look as we get closer to the concert dates. We’ll read it as a choir tomorrow, though.

We will also sing Ave Maria and Shut de Do tomorrow. If you are one of the people who is planning on auditioning for the trio or one of the solos in Ave Maria, please think about volunteering to sing the trio tomorrow during rehearsal. I’d like people to start hearing how those parts go together (cause it’s so darned pretty), so I’ll ask for volunteers to sing the trio part.

We will also sing Parting Glass and 76 Trombones.

Thank you all for such a strong start! Remember to tell friends and family about our concerts on March 18 and 19! We want Christmas-sized crowds for this. If that means telling them that you’re singing a WORLD-PREMIERE of a new piece DEDICATED to the Green Valley Community Chorus,. you tell them that! (‘Cause it’s absolutely true!) Also, if you know people who are fans of John Snavely the clarinetist, be sure to let them know he’ll be performing on our program as well!

I’ll see you all in less than 24 hours! Have a most excellent Sunday night!

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus


January 15, 2019

Hello GVCC,

Welcome back to all returning and also our new members!   It was truly a joy to be with you yesterday. My, how we’ve grown! we were missing a few members yesterday, and we STILL had 96 people in the room! It’s entirely probably that we’ll top 100 members by the time of the concert…and I’m fine with this. This is a COMMUNITY Choir and our job is to serve the community. If that means the entire danged community wants to join us on stage, well we’ll just have the most brilliant community sing-along this country has ever seen!

We got a very good start. I think you probably got an idea of the kind of sound I’m looking for: well-supported, full and rounded tone, open resonance, enthusiastic commitment to vocal production. All of these facets have become earmarks of the Green Valley Community Chorus sound and they’ve served us well. Remember: every time you sing, use ALL of your air…or as much as you possibly can. Air is our fuel and we want the music to MOVE. 

Friday, we will work on some of the other pieces in our repertoire that we haven’t looked at yet. This will include:

Lunar Lullaby

Jabberwocky

Circle of Saints

Til We Meet Again

Old Irish Blessing

We will also have a sectional rehearsal on Father William. I will work with the sopranos and altos from p. 5-8 and our assistant director Tamara Kahrimanas will work with the tenors and basses on the same pages. These pages are challenging…perhaps the trickiest part of the entire program. Due to this, I want to his them NOW when we’re still fresh. Also, by starting them now, we give ourselves maximum time to achieve mastery…and I’m a big fan of things being as close to perfect as possible.

I’m going to include links to a few of our songs so that you can give them a listen. This process helps you get an idea of what I’m ultimately aiming for and such clear goals can only help a choir to be stronger and more secure.

 Lunar Lullaby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwaauJvt5nk 

Jabberwocky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnkumgf5qVw (Note: this is one of my favorite choral pieces of all time.)

Neighbor’s Chorus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zark3l3ErJc They play around with tempo in a few places in ways that we might not, but it’s a very good performance!

THANK YOU to everybody who signed up on the solos list! Unfortunately, there was some confusion between new auditioners and people interested in solos, so the list is a bit muddled. We will rectify this on Friday. We will have NEW lists: one list for Ave Maria trio singers, one list for small group singing, one list for the featured solo spot, etc. Any song that has a solo in it, we’ll have a list for it. The only exception is that I’ve made an executive decision on the solo in Shut De Do. I’d like to congratulate our soloist for this piece, Marie Valade! As you saw yesterday, the piece requires a bit of fancy vocalization and I know Marie can pull it off beautifully.

Our concerts are on March 18th and 19th. When is a good time to start talking up the concert? How about NOW?!? One of the things that has really helped us out over the last three concerts has been early efforts to get the word out. This is no different. Christmas time is the easiest time of the year to sell a choral concert, but I think we made a really good impression in December, so I want to capitalize on that ASAP and get people on board with our Nostalgia concert as well. Please let all the same family/friends/postfolk/barbers/shoe salesmen/pets etc. know about THIS concert same as you did for the Christmas one and we’ll be singing to a full house for both performances!

Most of my emails will be shorter than this one, but I had a lot to say to welcome you back. Now that’s done…let’s get to work!

Musically,

Todd Wachsman

Artistic Director, Green Valley Community Chorus


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