Sunday, May 1, 2011

Haydn + Candyman +Whitacre

= a weekend full of singing.

Add to that some Gjeilo and Faure, a bit of Hindemith, and you have an idea for the choral goodness my week held. Here's an overview of the week.

Monday was my all-out panic day, when I realized that I had done way less than necessary to gracefully make it through the week. Much laundry and last-minute homework ensued.

Tuesday, I arrived at school at 9 am, packing my day full of rehearsals, classes, and research for the presentation on Hindemith's "Lilacs" Requiem that was due Wednesday. I pored through books in the music library, got recordings and a DVD, and took three books out of the main library to round out my research. Unfortunately, there was no score of the music available, so I listened to a movement of the piece over and over again to analyze it. Throughout the day, I spent between five and six hours preparing for this 50-minute presentation. 2 hours of rehearsal, a lunch break, a quick dinner break, and 2 classes later, I was heading home at about 9pm. 12 hour day. I did not sleep well.

Wednesday was another "early" day, arriving at school by 8:15am to set up for my presentation. Our class is held in the recital hall so that it is conducive to watching a projected presentation and listening to music, while having a big lecture-style program to provide extra practice for our future professional lives. Now, I would like to say that I was happy when my professor announced that he would like me to take only about 20 minutes for the presentation instead of the 50 allotted, but I was really upset, since I had spent so much time the day before in preparation. I was angry that there was an irreparable buzz in the sound system and that there was no music score available. To top it off, the professor took the next 30 minutes to "chat" with the three of us about the ways he's expanding the conducting program next year to include five conductors instead of two.

Hold it right there. I auditioned here because it is a small program, wherein conductors receive ample podium time and one-on-one attention from the director. These changes make me nervous about the quality of the experiences available to me. I am partly frustrated because the conducting level and organizational skill of one of next year's students is rather low, and I don't understand why he was accepted. I have a further rant to insert here, but I'll refrain from publishing it.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, we were planning our happy weekend trip to see my brother, his fiance, and my sister at their college (a 7 hour round trip). Unfortunately, every hotel in town and the surrounding 15-20 miles was booked. What??? I did a Google search for bed & breakfast places in the area and sent my hubby two links. I felt incredibly stressed, angry at the morning's situations, and a bit nervous for the evening's conducting engagements.

After four rehearsals and some free time (during which I worked on the Theory project that was, evidently, now late), I changed to my black Anne Klein suit. I quickly applied makeup (rare for me to do my makeup at all) and put my hair in a twist. My husband and my mom and dad soon arrived with dinner and flowers for me - yay! Perhaps this was not going to be such a bad evening.

The first concert, a composer's recital in which I was to conduct a choral piece, was about to begin - 6:30 was the start time - when the electricity suddenly went out. Emergency lights were on, and someone relayed the message that there was a tornado warning. Really? Now? We waited a few minutes, but there was not a foreseeable timeline for the return of power. We decided to sing in the most well-lighted area of the music building, which is an atrium/lobby area with a skylight and a view of the second and third floors of the building. The men and women stood on opposite sides of the room, looking over the balcony of the second floor. We pushed a piano to the middle of the balcony, and I stood beside the piano to conduct so both groups of singers could see me. Flexibility was forced upon me, and things actually worked well. The group sounded good, the composer had his premiere, and I conducted from memory. As the recital wore on, the building got progressively hotter and stuffier, as it was a very warm, thunderously rainy day.

The second concert of Wednesday evening was a Men's and Women's Choir concert, in which I conducted two pieces for the Women's Choir. We were prepared to give the concert in the ever-increasing dark, but the power returned in time for the 8:00 concert to begin. Whew. I did well - I was proud of how the choir responded to me and of the sound they achieved, though I did have my pieces on the conductor's stand for a security blanket of sorts. I just felt too stressed to try it memorized, even though I think I could have done it. My long-suffering parents and husband were proud of me, and I had many encouraging words from other professors, for which I'm thankful. Thus ended the evening at about 10pm. A 13 hour day. Though I went to bed right after I got home, I had fitful sleep and saw every hour on the clock but 5 and 6. Sad.

Thursday began with a stress-relieving breakfast in bed, complete with bagels and orange juice from my parents. Mmmm! I had a couple of rehearsals, including a 2-hour dress rehearsal for the following night's concert. Not a bad day, but I still came home late (no fun).

Friday was full again, beginning at 9 with homework, followed by rehearsals. I did some gardening in the afternoon (read: hacked at dirt with a rake, pulling up weeds so I could plant seeds), which was a nice thing to do, but dumb for concert night. I got to the concert and realized that I had pulled a muscle in my back that hurts when I breathe deeply to sing. Dumb, dumb, dumb. The concert, presenting the high school choral festival pieces, a visiting choir, a Dvorak symphony, and the first two parts of the Haydn Creation, came in at a whopping 2.5 hours in length. I wasn't home until about 10:30pm.

After arriving home and chugging some tea, I (over)packed for our weekend trip. We left at 7:45am the next morning, making a quick stop at Mickey D's for McMuffins and a wildberry smoothie (so good). We arrived at about 11am and celebrated my sister's and grandfather's shared birthday with cake, pie, cookies, and an all-campus concert of choral music. This was rather fun, informal choral music, but my brother's arrangement of Candyman from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory stole the show. His a cappella men's group won both their division and the highest award at the show - so proud of him. We even squeezed in a visit to the nearby outlet mall, where I got a spring yellow Gap cami for a whopping $6 and a Banana Republic sleeveless white dress shirt for $13. Yay!

Our bed and breakfast stay was lovely! (I slept so soundly.) We were surprised to find that their rates are so reasonable, and loved that the room was so adorably decorated. Well, I enjoyed that. The hubby was happy that the bed was firm and that the shower was hot. :o) Breakfast there was delicious - whole wheat waffles and fresh fruit, with Twinings tea, served on pretty china. Happy Linnea! If you'll excuse my blurry pictures from my husband's Droid, here's an idea of what it was like:
*note the over-stuffed too-big suitcase and extra pink jackets at the foot of the cute, shabby-chic bed. the pastel pink/green/white braided rug to the left is from Target, and the room was full of antiques - a vanity, lamps, a washbasin with mirror and candles, the iron bed. Even the bathroom was pretty, with brand-new Kohler sink, toilet, and whirlpool tub. Sweet. And free-to-use shampoos, bodywash, hairdryer, iron... like a mini store available to us. I chose Bath & Body Works honeysuckle bodywash for my shower. Happy. The room was so pretty. Here's a view of the light-pink bathroom:
We ended the weekend with a commissioning service for my sister's 9-week mission trip to India this summer, followed by an excellent choir concert (works by Brahms, Whitacre, Purcell, and Christiansen, among others). The trip home was long and rainy...

glad to be home!

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