Monday, April 22, 2013

Chanticleer and the Springfield Choral Society

Last Sunday was a magical day in Springfield with the men's vocal ensemble Chanticleer.

That afternoon, 53 singers from the Springfield Choral Society, under the direction of Marion van der Loo, participated in a Master Class taught by Jace Wittig, music director of Chanticleer.  The Choral Society is preparing for their upcoming concert of Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil" on April 27 and were able to present a few of the movements from the piece to Mr. Wittig and work with him to refine their singing of it.

Chanticleer music director Jace Wittig works with the Springfield Choral Society.

Mr. Wittig was quite familiar with the selections, and it was interesting to me to take in how much of what he had to offer the group had to do with understanding the nuances of meaning of the Russian lyrics and understanding the context in which this piece was written.  It brought such a wonderfully human element to the music that, I believe, sometimes gets lost in singers' desire to achieve musicality in details related to more traditionally-discussed elements such as tone, tuning, and dynamics.  Mr. Wittig disclosed that much of Chanticleer's own rehearsal time is devoted to these similar discussions of lyrics and composer intent.

The concert that evening by Chanticleer was magical.  Because Chanticleer sings without a conductor, each of the twelve individual singers must coordinate their efforts brilliantly.  The piece that ended the first half of the concert, Canticum calamitatis maritimae, was especially mesmerizing and solidified for me many of the important elements that had been discussed at the afternoon Master Class.  Through whispering and sighing, in addition to more musical passages that invoked a Siren's call to men at sea, this piece created something of an audio work of art - I'd almost go so far as to call it an audio "painting" - that left one of the most lasting impressions of the performing arts season for me.

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