Spoleto Festival USA: May 15, 2013

This morning we had our first Spoleto rehearsal with Dr. Miller.  His luggage is still lost somewhere between Charleston and Berlin, and so we are seeing creative combinations of the layers he happened to be wearing on the plane ride home.  He was in good spirits for our rehearsal, as was the choir.  We rehearsed a few musical moments in Le Villi that needed attention, and then ran the numbers with the blocking to hone and refine our movements and individual characters.  Toward the end of the rehearsal, we were joined by the Matsukaze octet, and it was evident on their faces how happy they were to be rejoined with the choir.  

Dr. Miller was about to dismiss the rehearsal when members asked if we could please sing something from our tour program.  He cocked his head to the side, was about to say no (we haven’t rehearsed any of those pieces in a long time, and there was really no telling what kind of shape they were in), but then he looked again at our eager, pleading faces, and gave the pitch for Nunc Dimitis by Gustav Holst.  The Matsukaze octet has been living in an atonal, avant-garde musical world wherein the most consonant sounding interval is a tri-tone.  It was remarkable to watch their countenances alter in the presence of tonality (two were crying, the others looked like children on Christmas morning).  Even though the tuning in the Holst was not nearly our best, the whole choir was uplifted to sing again as one ensemble. 

After my two-a-day Kickin Chickin adventure and numerous meals at Nick’s BBQ, it was definitely time for something lighter.  Sopranos Anna Lenti, Jane Meditz, fellow alto Mary Hewlett and I went to make our own salads for lunch at Verde.  Anna and Mary had to be back at Matsukaze rehearsal at 1, but there was a little time in between for window shopping on King Street and a stop at Belgian Gelato to counter the healthy greens. 

At the Le Villi rehearsal, we ran the show up until the second half, where there was a massive set change.  In the first garden party scene, the walls are papered with a beautiful, enormous forget-me-not print that reflects all of the hues of blue used in the costumes,  props and set pieces.  There is a dance in the middle where some of the paper is torn away, revealing the padded walls of the asylum underneath.  As eerie and effective as this is, there was simply no way to tear all of the paper away, and so it is necessary to completely change the walls of the entire set during a single aria.  Tonight was the first time this set change happened, and it took about 45 minutes.  By some miracle of theater, the backstage technicians have to be able to do this in about 8 minutes by the time the show goes up.  Tomorrow, we will leave Charleston for about 36 hours to join the Commencement activities back at Westminster, and while we are gone, the crew will rehearse this change a number of times to be ready when we return.   

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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