Thursday, July 21, 2011

Come Sing with Us!

Indianapolis Symphonic Choir auditions for new singers, Aug. 12-13, 2011

Want to join in the fun? Eager to sing beyond the confines of your shower or car? Then come audition for membership in the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir!

This year, the Choir will celebrate its 75th anniversary season, with major works including: Carmina Burana, Messiah, Holst's Planets, Brahms Gesang der Parzen, the world premiere of Stephen Hough's MASS, and the Berlioz Requiem. Additional concerts include a Martin Luther King Jr Day "Celebration" tribute, and the annual holiday favorite Festival of Carols.

To learn more about auditioning for the Symphonic Choir, and to schedule an audition time, visit the audition link (in the "ABOUT" tab) at

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 12: One Down, One to Go!

It was a great concert last night! Felix and Jorge played beautifully in the "Sinfonia Concertante" by Mozart. Roland led his orchestral charges with expert clarity and passion. The audience demanded an encore of the soloists even before the intermission.

Patrick (orchestra) and Felix (soloist) backstage before the performance

The Chorus did a great job...sang with beauty, focus and energy. The concert hall is a lovely, comfortable room. However, the singers had to work extra hard to project the text into its dry acoustic. They were successful, and the enthusiasm and joy on their faces was wonderful to see.

This evening, our concert will go head-to-head against the nationally televised tv broadcast of the soccer game between Bolivia and Costa Rica...numerous musicians have already requested a tv be placed backstage so we can watch and cheer!

Soprano soloist Diana Azero

Post-concert dinner at "La Suisse" last night; delicious beef medallions in a boursin cheese sauce, Bolivian Cabernet Sauvignon (it's really, really good!) and chocolate mousse for dessert.

Looking on as Jorge orders his dessert, called "Amor Caliente"!

Jorge plays the 1/8 size violin for Victoria

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Days 10-11: Dress Rehearsal and Opening Night

Final rehearsal for tonight's concert

After a rehearsal two days ago that was filled with work--and working out (bowings, adjusting dynamic levels, tempo changes)--last night's dress rehearsal was one of good effort and smart music making. We made great progress through my "punch list," attending to the items left over from the night before. By the end, I think we were all feeling good about our preparation, and an energetic anticipation for tonight's opening filled the room.

Vocal soloists Eduardo Linares, Rocio Juanes, Jose Luis Duarte and Diana Maria Azero

Our four soloists are from La Paz, and were auditioned by Charlie Houmard and Roland a year ago, for the choir and orchestra's performance of the Beethoven Choral Fantasy. I've enjoyed getting to know them, and the choral singers are delighted to have them back in Santa Cruz.

Yesterday afternoon, Roland, the instrumentalists and I were the guests of a few of Roland's board members for lunch out in the countryside. "La Rinconada" looks a little like a very elegant country club, with beautiful gardens, a small lake, and numerous palapa-like thatched-roof structures where groups can dine "al fresco." We enjoyed the grounds for a bit, then shared generous helpings of Pique Macho, a native Bolivian dish of beef, veggies, and a mildly spicey sauce.

Two views of our lunching place, "La Rinconada"

And on other food related topics, our dinner last night at a local french restaurant, "Le Coin," was one of the best meals I've ever had. The Chicken Cordon Bleu was incredibly rich and satisfying, served with a side of fettucine alfredo. Our hosts begged us to have dessert, so naturally I had to try the chocolate mousse. So for a jog to burn all that off!

Yummy French cuisine at "Le Coin" after dress rehearsal

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 9: Weekend, and Final Rehearsals

Ready for the cameras at this morning's TV interview

We're in the home stretch. Rehearsed yesterday with two of the soloists, who had just arrived from La Paz, and with the orchestra, most of whom arrived yesterday morning on the overnight flight from Miami. They had been in south Florida for several weeks of a string festival. And, cancelled yesterday's choral rehearsal...voices needed a break, and besides, the preparations were going well (thanks Charlie, for your advance work!).

Conducting Masterclass

Today, early morning TV show, followed by yummy coffee and breakfast at Alexander Cafe. It's been really cold here the last few days, overcast, strong winds, temps in the 50's. No buildings are heated, actually, so it's chilly everywhere. However, this is their winter, and at least there's no snow!

Over the weekend, met with a chamber choir that wanted to sing for me...worked some King's Singers arrangements of a couple Beatles tunes with!

Chamber Choir rehearsing "Michelle" by Lennon/McCartney

Happy July 4th to all in the US!

Roland and his "Princesses," Victoria and Sofia

Friday, July 1, 2011

Days 4-5: Getting in the Groove!

So if Monday and Tuesday were days of gradual immersion into the Mozart/Bolivian routine, Wednesday and Thursday have brought a kind of hair-is-now-all-wet/I'm-fully-commited-to-this-thing experience. Writing this in my hotel room late on Thursday, the last two days have brought a total of 10 different masterclasses/rehearsals, for a total of over 15 hours of musical/linguistic engagement in two days... We're all getting our money's worth now :-)

I'm glad to be so active...and the singers and students here (some are adults, some attend the Catholic or Evangelical Universities here in Santa Cruz, some are high school age) are certainly eager to work. Today, despite a driving rain, 5 guys from the chorus trudged across town and were waiting for me at the conference room in our hotel we are using for afternoon classes.

I'm teaching a combination of conducting and singing masterclasses...not really with a lesson plan per se, rather asking the students what they want to work on, or what questions they have. Teaching is so often about reinforcing the good lessons students already know--I'm certainly relying upon that philosophy a lot this week--and the good news is folks keep showing up for more.

Singing the "Benedictus" in our voice masterclass

We were joined yesterday by another guest musician for the concerts next week. Jorge (from Honduras, but now living and teaching in Jacksonville, FL) arrived on the overnight flight from Miami. He (viola player) and Felix (violin) will be featured in the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante. I got to hear them rehearse a bit tonight...their playing is certainly wonderful.

Felix and Jorge with Roland and Orchestra

Roland has been making sure I'm eating very well. Yesterday's lunch was a buffet with potato soup, cooked veggies, and chicken. Last night it was a delicious Cuban restaurant for Ropa Vieja and the best sauteed plantains I've ever had...sugary glaze on the outside. And today, with one of his board members, we were treated to a wonderful sushi lunch.

Rehearsals are going well; we are making progress, and despite the fact that the 50 or so singers come from different places (some are already in other choirs, some are in no choirs), we are building our unique choral instrument. Tonight we sang through the entire mass, taking time to remind them about the importance of looking up, working on pronunciation of text (the "B" sound is hard for them to make) and working on transitions from one movement to the next.
Rock n' Roll, Mozart style! Our accompanist, Jacinth, is a student from Princeton University doing a summer study abroad program here...and he's a great help to us!