After the high of the Crypt Concert nearly two weeks ago, this week’s rehearsal (the first since the concert) was a real back-to-Earth session.
Picking up again after the concert is the hardest part of the year; it’s time to learn new repertoire, back to learning the notes, and sitting back in sections rather than in mixed formation.
As one of the basses remarked, ‘It’s like we’ve gone right back to the beginning;’ and it’s true. Harder even than those very first rehearsals at the start of the year, when the Choir is finding its feet both musically and socially, when people are meeting each other for perhaps the first time, some of whom are only recent arrivals at the University. Having to go back to the start after such dizzy heights as the Crypt performance is always a challenge.
But this is when we can really start to push ourselves. The new pieces we’re learning for the remainder of the year are possibly harder still than anything we sang in the Crypt, because they are mostly close-harmony jazz arrangements, including some Gershwin. Plus there’s the customary arrangement of a piece plucked from the Chart-Dwelling Popular Music Tunes by yours truly to learn – sometimes even with added choreography (the latter, thankfully, NOT by me…)
So, whilst there was a sense of picking ourselves up once more, the new pieces are both challenging and fun, the two elements key to motivating the Choir to continue its progress now the February milestone has gone. Close-harmony a capella singing is harder than it sounds, with angular lines written in order to articulate those purple-hued, augmented-fourth-rich jazz dissonances. But there was a sense of relish as we began to work on them, and the concert in the summer could possibly be our best yet…