Spoleto Festival USA Day 5

Thankfully, the morning rehearsal was cut down to just an hour. It was just Westminster Choir and D. Millz (aka Dr. Miller) in the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul. Probably the most revealing thing yet: Dr. Miller telling us that he got lost just as many times as we did the previous night and was extremely proud of us for how we fared. We went through a few pages in the score, warmed up, then finished 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

After lunch was our first rehearsal in Memminger Auditorium, the actual production performance space. It’s extremely difficult for me to do justice to the set-up of this production. Apparently, a construction crew was hired to make platforms for the full orchestra that are about 2 stories tall and hold the entirety of us (180+ people). The shadow puppet show is the focal point of the production, so there are two side wings where the chorus and certain parts of the orchestra sit, while the majority of the orchestra sits at the front of the space. That platform has a wall on which the puppet show is projected from underneath the main part of the orchestra. We all have stand lights to see our scores since the performance is done in the dark, which means we have intricate wiring throughout the whole orchestra and choir. Not only that, but each of us choristers has a wooden table to store all of our extraneous instruments. They also have small digital screens distributed in the wings, which show John Kennedy conducting in real-time with measure numbers in the corner of the screen so that we can stay together. The whole set-up is impressively elaborate.

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Selfie taken by Grant Farmer

We had an afternoon rehearsal and a night rehearsal, both equally difficult. Since there are few screens and none of the choristers can really see John Kennedy, it was hard keeping up with him. In between rehearsals, we went outside to get some fresh air, but it’s been so humid lately that it feels like we’re breathing in water.

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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