Categories
Singing at home

Turnover

We had some better-than-usual singing in Berkeley tonight. We had a fine visiting singer, David from Seattle, and I’ve noticed that really good visiting singers often improve a local singing — both, I suspect, because the addition of a fine voice always helps, and also because we local singers tend to be on our mettle and so we sing better.

But I was also thinking about a conversation I had with Marsha when we were driving back from the Trumpet singing. We were talking over why several stalwart singers were no longer coming to the local singings — and of course you always fear that they got tired of us, or the singing was bad one week, or something equally horrible. But when we went over the list of reasons why those former stalwart signers were no longer with us, they were had nothing to do with Sacred Harp: he got married and moved out of town, she’s doing a postdoc in another city, he’s on the road playing music, she’s finishing a graduate degree, he moved to the North Bay, and so on. I could think of one stalwart who stopped coming because he’s singing with another group, but he still comes when he can.

“It’s a very transient population,” said Marsha. And that’s really what it comes down to: we live in a major metropolitan area where many people come and live for only a few years while they go to school or hold a job, and then they move on. So we are always integrating new singers, and always saying goodbye to stalwart singers.

Posted six days after the fact, due to working long hours — another reason some singers drift away from Sacred Harp for a time.

Categories
All-day singings & conventions

Upcoming all-day singing on New Year’s Day

On Tuesday, January 1, 2013, there will be an all-day singing in honor of Dominic Ciavonne Ziegler. Dominic was a fine musician who sang tenor with the Berkeley local singing, and he was a welcoming singer who introduced many new people to Sacred Harp. This all-day singing will carry on his legacy of good music and good friendships. We’ll sing from 10:00-4:00 (registration opens at 9:30), at the Old Felta Schoolhouse in Healdsburg, California.

For map and directions, more information, and a printable flyer, click here.

You can also check in on the Facebook event page.

Please help spread the word — send this information out to all your Sacred Harp friends!

Categories
Other events

Trumpet singing

I managed to change my work schedule so I could attend tonight’s singing from vol. 2 no. 3 of The Trumpet, and I was glad I did: this was a particularly good issue with lots of good music. Fifteen of us gathered in Carolyn’s living room in San Francisco, with three each of trebles, altos, and basses, and the rest in the tenor section; we had some very good singers in the class, so all the tunes got a good reading.

Since I’m a big fan of the New England School, of course the highlight of the singing was the anthem “The Radiant Band of Music” by Stephen Jenks. Jenks had left the treble part unfinished at his death, and in 2001 Nikos Pappas completed the tune. The added treble part was very sensitively done, very “Jenksian” if you will. I love singing Jenks: he can be quirky and odd at times, but his tunes are satisfying to sing. Some of his later tunes seem a little too much influenced by Lowell Mason and the Better Music Boys; and on the last page of this five-page anthem, Jenks uses conventional chord progressions that are definitely too reminiscent of Lowell Mason. But in the four pages before that, there was enough New England School quirkiness to satisfy me, including: odd time signature changes (e.g., mm. 18-21); descending unisons / parallel octaves that break apart (mm. 22-25); antiphonal singing over drones (top system, p. 94); etc. Great fun to sing!

Among the fuguing tunes, I particularly enjoyed Contrition by Rebecca Wright; when you’re sight-singing, it’s hard to listen to the other parts, but the bass part sounded just right to my ears. I also enjoyed singing the plain tune Bremen by Wade Kotter; I especially like the dotted quarter-eighth note slur in m. 10, which felt just exactly right. And Hurricane Creek by D. W. Steel was a blast to sing — my only complaint is that it needs another verse. I also think it needs to be sung with an unwritten repeat going back to m. 12; you don’t want the tune to end, and I want the leader to have the option of taking the class back to sing the ending one more time.

Will Fitzgerald, one of the editors of The Trumpet, was at this singing. At the end of the singing, I told him that I thought this was perhaps the best issue yet. Full disclosure: one of my tunes is in this issue, but since I’m always unhappy with my own tunes, its inclusion would tend to make me like this issue less. Thus it’s possible that this issue of The Trumpet is better than I think it is.

A big thanks to the editors and production team who put The Trumpet together!

Categories
Singing at home

A solid singing

I managed to get over to the Berkeley weekly singing tonight, in spite of having to officiate at a memorial service this afternoon. It was worth the long drive: a good solid singing. My voice was tired from yesterday’s singing, and from the memorial service this afternoon, so I sat on the back bench and didn’t sing all that much. Will came over and sang next to me. It was a real pleasure to sit next to his fine singing voice, and the pleasure was increased because the back bench of the bass section sits up against a wood-and-plaster wall which resonates delightfully.

Although it was a good singing, my voice and I were tired, and went home after break.

Categories
All-day singings & conventions

Jeff leading 440 North Salem

Jeff leading no. 440 North Salem at the 2012 Palo Alto All-Day Singing, in the Fireside Room of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto.

Categories
All-day singings & conventions

Greg leading 285t Arnold

No singing for me tonight; I’m too busy at work. But here’s another video from the Palo Alto All-Day Singing — Greg leading no. 285t Arnold. Greg is a fine singer, and a fine leader. He always seems to get the class to sound their best, as is true in this reading of this delightfully dissonant tune.