May 21, 2012

To quote our resident Minnesotan alto, Elizabeth Hermanson,  OOF-DA!  This was quite a day!  We met for the morning rehearsal at Wellbrock, Starbucks in hand as usual, and sang through some of our tour repertoire and pieces that we will perform with Dr. Flummerfelt and the Charleston Symphony Chorus.  The energy was a little low (and by low, I mean we were only at about 94% of our usual ‘pep’), maybe because everyone was still recovering from a relaxing day off.

During our afternoon stage rehearsal, a number of the men in the choir were informed that they would indeed need haircuts before opening night.  Some of them got away with a little ‘tidy-up’, and about 8 or 9 others will be freshly shorn as of tomorrow afternoon.  Some are quite unhappy, though always professional.  I’ll try to sneak some before and after photos, but no promises.

In a number of scenes in the opera, we each carry notebooks in which we, as students in life and on stage, diligently take down the knowledge extolled by our professors.  One of our favorite pastimes on stage and in between scenes is to see what sorts of things people write when they are ‘taking notes’.  Kang Noh Park, tenor, and Maggie Montoney, soprano, actually craft some artful renderings of choir members.  Others write silly poems and limericks, lists of favorite Charleston restaurants, Kepler ‘quizzes’ to be answered by the next person to receive that particular notebook, and there are at present at least two communal stories which are added to by a different chorister every day.

We re-blocked the fighting scene and the ‘holy warrior’ scene today.  In the ‘school yard’ fight scene, it is the Protestants vs. the Catholics a la the Thirty Years War (in our case, it is actually tenor Johnny Wilson vs. tenor Dawan Turner).  While the two tenors are grappling, the rest of the choir gathers around as if to egg them on, and we are supposed to react and lean with the fighters so that the entire group mimics the motion of the two.  Sam, our director, described our motion as ‘sea-weedy’, and so he instructed us to be more angular.  This is a choir that gives 100% almost all of the time, and the result was stiff robots angling sharply from side to side in a huddle.  I would have like to see this from the house – I bet it was pretty comical!  We finally found a middle ground, and the fight now looks stylized and natural.

Our evening rehearsal was our first with the orchestra in the theater – how satisfying to begin to put all of the elements of the show together!


The Kepler Orchestra with John Kennedy, conductor.


We have two Wandleprobes tomorrow – these are rehearsals where we will be in full costume, hair, and make-up, and walk through all of the staging without singing.  These will be two major technical rehearsals, and further opportunity for the orchestra to get used to the sound of the space and to fitting 72 musicians with all of their equipment into the pit!

About Westminster Choir

Westminster Choir is composed of students at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, a center for music study in Princeton, N.J.
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