Review of our last concert

The Festival Chorus
Mozart – Mass in C Minor: Apr-Jun 2015
Andrea Brown, Musical Director

The Mozart Mass in C minor was an excellent piece to further develop choral sound and technique. The choir responded, eventually, to the demands of the piece, with new textures explored in dynamics and a consolidation of sound particularly in eight parts. The performance was an excellent finish to the season with continued confidence in my leadership from both choir and orchestra.

Rehearsals
There were 10 Monday evening rehearsals and two 3-hr Saturday morning rehearsals for full choir to learn the choruses to this medium-sized work. There were issues from the start regarding editions of the work which proved to be challenging in the Sanctus/Benedictus as well as orchestral parts. This presented well, but it did appear that there was sporadic attendance throughout the rehearsal period, particularly worryingly on the last rehearsal of the 22nd. However, the choir rose to the occasion on the concert-day rehearsal, having clearly spent time in the last week learning the notes. I would have liked to have had more time in rehearsal to work on vocal coaching, phrasing and expression – this was limited due to sporadic attendance. There were also sectional rehearsals overseen by members of the choir which were very effective in note-learning.

Recommendations:
• MD to decide with Cttee edition (including cost) for each of the works at planning stage.
• Experiment with taking a register for the more challenging seasons. Registers have the added benefits of monitoring trends in attendance (eg bank holidays/half terms etc), managing chorus subscriptions and adding incentive to singers to attend and be more aware of non-attendance/authorised absence/illness

Production
As is, what I suspect, the norm, the committee did an excellent job in putting together the production for the concert. From fixing an excellent orchestra and soloists, to coming together to build and take apart the concert staging, to organising tickets and interval drinks, they did a splendid job. The barbecue was brilliantly organised and managed!
Reh and Concert Day
The rehearsal time was ample for the work, and was scheduled to give both soloists and chorus ample time to cover the material. I wonder if timings for soloists/choir reh schedule could have been more efficient and that I over-rehearsed the choir. I suspect that the choir were a little tired in their performance, particularly the Credo and subsequent Sanctus.
The management and the running of the concert itself went very smoothly. Stands and sits were precise, as well as entries/curtain calls etc. The concert venue, St Lukes, presents a fantastic acoustic and venue for such a work. Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed conducting the chorus in such a flattering acoustic and beautiful environment. The orchestra were extremely responsive in this concert, with excellent wind soloists and a very able leader. I feel a good partnership is starting to grow here.

Recommendations:
• MD to be careful to not over-rehearse choir in large FF sections
• Consider staggering chorus and solo rehearsal start times depending on repertoire demands

Quality and Development
The Chorus has started to expand its range of expressive and dynamic singing. There is more to work on, in particular specific areas of vocal technique in each of the parts. Subsequent repertoire planning and other workshop activity should take this into account for effective growth and continued improvements to the sound, range of colour and vocal texture.
Recommendations:
• Introduce specific vocal training within main reh and sectional rehearsals where relevant
• Work with Repertoire Committee to plan repertoire suitable to the Chorus’s continued growth
• Enhance online/other materials for the Chorus which educate and build vocal technique as well as other subjects eg introduction to music theory, navigating round the score, online rehearsal tracks, rehearsal notes and background information on specific repertoire

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