Harmony U Day 3 (Tuesday)

(photo: Barad'ur at night. ) Denis Laflamme called in some favours, I think. We got two extra hours of coaching from four top guns tonight. This was after the three hours earlier in the day. The focus was sectional practices to enhance unity of sound. For us leads this meant eliminating ' scooping' on notes. It is amazing how much we do this for emotive effect. It is also amazing how much we sound like one voice when we get rid of it. We also focused on keeping the same tone throughout our range, bringing our high voice into our lowest notes to keep everything clear and light. The chorus and coaches were rewarded for the time spent by an unparalleled improvement in our sound. You should have been there. The sound! The excitement from chorus and coaches alike! 
The chorus is retaining so much of what we're being taught, and transferring what we've learned in one song to the rest of our singing. What great coaches and what a great bunch of guys on the risers. Denis is in seventh heaven (not the incomparable gospel quartet, but the emotional state) and well he should be. He has brought the chorus to this place wherein we can get such a great benefit from this opportunity. 
Rodney McGillivray, always looking out for Papa's friends, got coach Gary Steincamp to stay behind to work with our gospel VLQ. We sang our best ever 'Still, Still with Thee' using everything we'd learned in chorus and then Gary (already very positive about our sound), by identifying diction as an issue and reminding us to move this meditative hymn from inward reflection to outward presentation, was able to help us make an even more beautiful and, dare I say, holy moment in singing. One of the questions we must now ask of every song is, "Who is there?" Still, Still with Thee is overtly addressed to the presence of God. In a pietistic way it is easy to sing the song to oneself as an enjoyment of the feeling of God's presence. But rightly it is directed outwardly to 'an audience of one,' and only as such do we really share, with an earthly audience, the rapture expressed in the song. 
Back to the Cantina (after yet another rehearsal, this time (10:00 pm) with the Gold Ribbon First Timer's chorus.) 7th Heaven rehearsed there till they closed the place. I am very privileged to be supported by the rich tight vocal mesh of Rod, Bill Hawken and Andre Carriere. Also kudos to Neil Rask who sat in after Bill went to bed. Always a pleasure to hear Neil's voice. 
My voice is feeling better after all the singing of Tuesday than it did after the first evening of Harmony U. Must be doing something right. 

Monday, Harmony U Day 2

Confusion in the Morning about our chorus college schedule caused some dismay, but an amazing afternoon and evening of coaching was inspiring and productive. The chorus is putting out a huge effort to make sure we get as much as we can out of the specialists that are teaching us. Busy day. Sadly going into extra innings Monday night means I missed seeing the TimeJumpers at 3rd and Lindsley (which, fyi, is located at 3rd and Lindsley). Instead 7th Heaven practiced late into the night at the Cantina across the street. ( which, fyi, is located across the street) Nice place, but the 'droids weren't welcome.

 

Harmony U Day One (Nashville Day Two, cont'd)

Potter HallAt registration it turns out Ben, at 17, needs a 'Supervisor' so I'm it. Chorus members filter in during the day. Seventh Heaven's bari, Andre Carriere, got bumped from the AC flight and was rerouted through LGA. Good thing I flew out on standby yesterday. Only major travel mishap is a guy who could not find his passport and will be delayed until Wednesday at the earliest. 
Evening General Session: Steve Armstrong of TNL taught and directed Ride the Chariot. Fixed a few notes and then 600 men and not a few women rang the hall like a bell. They will need to do some structural reassessment of the Massey Performing Arts Centre after we've sung for a week in there. 
An African American woman who is quite an activist in building community among children through music spoke passionately about our barbershop experience, its value for each of us personally and for the communities we can impact. A few of Her Met Singers taught the crowd a four part patter that was one of the first songs I quartetted with John S WilkieSteve Bangham, and the late Paul Tamblyn. 'Won't You Play a Simple Melody' brings back some sweet memories, personally reinforcing her message about the autobiographical sound track that is imprinted on our lives by singing. 
Had Ice Cream sang some crazy tags and went to bed.

Nashville Day 2, (Sunday am)

As previously planned,  I went to Belmont church. Really friendly people. Worship team was amazing. Should have expected that in Nashville! Really warm tone, new - to - me songs plus familiar hymns with a slight twang 
Message was on 1 cor 14. And was part of a series, get this Evan Smith, on the ethos of Belmont church. The idea was that the experienced presence of the living God, not just the dissection of the idea of God, is a root aspiration of the church here. At the end of the service I was able to immediately pick up a cd of the message and another one of the worship music from the service. 
Meet up with Ben Knorr and we walked to Belmont U. What a beautiful campus! Talking while I walked through a gazebo on the way to registration and immediately marked it as a place for quartet practice. The roof forms a reflector to reinforce sounds as you pass through the centre. 
Our chorus is mostly in Potter Hall (Gryffindor! !) Nice bright, airy and air conditioned rooms. FOund the hall where our chorus will practice. It has three seconds reverb which made a lovely sound when a few of us sang, but it could be a trap for the chorus. Stayed and sang a few non-repertoire songs while Denis Laflamme played on a piano with, err, vintage tuning. Our small group massacred the lyrics to Piano man, crocodile rock and a few others before heading off campus for a beverage.