Posted on October 27, 2008 by Michael
To memorize or not to memorize, that is the question. So, what is the answer? In our recent Celebrate the Future concert, many of the MOS members were impressed by the fact that the two high school choirs sang their selections from memory. I imagine that just about everyone would agree that a choir singing without music in its hands presents an attractive visual image. When singers are looking up at the conductor, rather than down at music scores, there exists a better chance that there will be more consistent communication between the choir and conductor, as well as between the choir and audience. Therefore, we may ask the question, “Why doesn’t every choir memorize?” Reasons often given include: insufficient rehearsal time, complexity of music, age of singers (sorry!). Also, it is important to note that performing with music does not mean that the final result will necessarily be less musical than one obtained performing from memory. In fact, most professional choirs (either in the USA or Europe) perform almost always with music, and the quality of their performances is consistently very high.
Well, this brings us back to the original point – to memorize or not to memorize. What are your thoughts on the subject? Are there pros and cons to either approach not mentioned above? I’m interested in hearing what you think.
Filed under: Choral experiences, Choral rehearsal, Musical preferences | Tagged: audience, choral music, communication, live performance, MOS, practice, singing | 5 Comments »
Posted on October 20, 2008 by Michael
The Michael O’Neal Singers just began its Twentieth Season in what I think was exactly the right way. Instead of concentrating on what we have accomplished during these last two decades, we set our eyes on what is ahead. In a concert entitled Celebrate the Future we featured three outstanding high school musical ensembles: The Alpharetta High School Chorale, Thomas Yackley, Conductor; The Milton High School Chorale, J. Andrew Bowers, Conductor; and the Centennial High School Chamber Strings, Young Kim, Conductor. Each ensemble performed individually, as well as in a combined performance with MOS of Schubert’s Mass in G and a World Premier performance of Hear the Future!
What struck me most about these young people, in addition to their extraordinary musicianship, was their commitment and seriousness of purpose. In this complicated world in which we live it is encouraging to observe teenagers such as these and realize that they will be our leaders of tomorrow. I have always believed (of course I’ll admit I’m somewhat biased) that school musical ensembles attract some of our brightest and best students, but I also believe that involvement in such ensembles helps develop qualities of teamwork, goal setting, and leadership. It is gratifying to see folks (of any age) working together for a positive common purpose, and a musical ensemble is one of the best vehicles to achieve something together that could never be accomplished individually.
At our Celebrate the Future concert we had musicians ranging in age from teenagers to retirees and I imagine we all received something from our musical collaboration. I’m interested in hearing from you as to what you experienced in our performance together and also what it is you most enjoy about making music in an ensemble. Share your thoughts!
Filed under: Choral experiences, choral masterworks, Collaboration | Tagged: choral directors, Collaboration, high school arts, Ken Berg, Michael O'Neal, MOS, orchestra directors, schubert Mass in G, singing, The Michael O'Neal Singers | 3 Comments »