Alto notes - April 2 (Carmina Burana)

Dear alti,


Here are some notes from April 2:


mvmt 1, line 2, bar 2, it's pronounced cres-TSEES, not cress-CHEES

 line 3, bar 2, separate 'bi' and 'lis' with a break bewteen (here and about 15 other places)


mvmt 3 - make it lilting and dance-like


mvmt 5, page 20, line 2, the last bar is 'Hu (umlaut)-e-miss, not "hee-e-miss". Jason has overwritten the pronunciation guide here.


mvmt 8, make the humming sound with open space inside your mouth


mvmt 18, agreed pronunciation is 'mandaLEET' and chu-mu-NEET' (not manda-lyeht and cu-mu-nyeht)


mvmt 20, start p on page 52




If you are looking for inspiration and want to have an explanation of why singing feels so good, I recommend this TED talk about the neuroscience of singing. "Singing connects to the right side of the brain, the battery that fuels the left side of the brain, it stimulates the release of oxytocin and endorphins...the neurotransmitters of love, compassion, kindness and determination, and that the effect is amplified when we sing with other people!





Alto notes: March 26

Dear alti,


Here are the notes from March 26:


-mvmt 1, p. 6 - remember the syncopated bars in the last line (bar 3) and also page 11, top line, bar 4. It is still catching some people by surprise

- check your pronunciation guide - all the 'qu's are pronounced 'qv' as in 'qvic qvim!



-mvmt 3, sweetly and in tune, especially the first bar of each passage


-mvmt 7. Alto 1 sing Sop 2 when the soprano line divides into two parts (e.g. p. 27, p. 29 and 50-52, p. 30, pp. 32-33. When it's only one part, go back to singing the alto part.

-mvmt 8 A1 sing the S2 part on the lower half of page 34 and into page 35


-mvmt 18, p. 50:  contrast between the f section and the p section two bars later. the thuird and fourth bars are the echo, so sing it softer.

-mvmt 19, altos can help the tenors if you want to

-mvmt 22, pp. 60: DON'T SING bar 2


If you have time to watch a clip, and want a laugh, here is my offering for the week: 



See you on Wednesday!




Alto notes for Feb 5 and 19: 'Comedy Tonight' and Carmina Burana

Dear alti,  Here are the notes from Feb 5:


 -mvmt 2, p. 13: Staccato! Separate the notes. Put an accent on the last note of each phrase (i.e. "tur" and "ta").  

-mvmt 4, pp. 14, 16 and 18: Listen to each-other and the basses here so we stay in tune with each-other. Keep the vowel forward and bright at the end of every phrase. Flip all the 'rs' , e.g. in flore, ribus and serena.

-mvmt 5. Separated and staccato. Watch the changes in dynamics. Last time is less staccato.

-mvmt 7. Alto 1 sing Sop 2 when the soprano line divides into two parts. When it's only one part, go back to singing the alto part.

-mvmt 9: "SVATZ" -mvmt 18, p. 50:  contrast between the f section and the p section two bars later.

-mvmt 20, pp. 52 and 53: make a big contrast between the f andp in the same bar. Page 60, DON'T SING until bar 3.    


From Feb 19:

-Matthew kindly sent around an excellent pronunciation guide for Carmina Burana. Please read it and take note of the Middle High German and medieval, non-Ecclesiastical Latin and mark these sounds into your score! The translation is also helpful.  

-we are all singing  'Comedy Tonight'  for the gala, and Jason would love this to be from memory. In many sections we only sing certain words:  

at bar 351: Men only sing 'Something that's gaudy'  Altos: 'something that's bawdy' Sops: 'something for everybawdy ALL: "comedy tonight'  

at bar 359: Men: 'nothing that's grim' Altos: 'Nothing that's Greek' Sops: 'She plays...' ALL: "Stunning surprises..."  

at bar 375: Men: 'Pantaloons and tunis' Altos: 'Courtesans and eunichs Sops: 'Funerals and chases' Men: 'Baritones and basses' Altos: "Panderers' Sops: 'Philanderers' Men: 'Cupidity' Altos: 'Timidity' Sops: 'Mistakes' Men: 'Fakes' Altos: 'Rhymes' Sops: 'Mimes'  

big rall at 'Tumblers, grumblers...'  

And here is this week's Carmina Burana clip:

See you next week!  Jennifer

Carmina Burana: alto notes from Jan 29

Good morning, altos,


Please let me know with a private reply (not 'Reply All') if you are not singing the spring 2014 concert (Carmina Burana) and wish to be removed from this mailing list for the time being.


I will aim to send notes out after each rehearsal, primarily for the benefit of those who missed the rehearsal. Please do the rest of the altos the courtesy of reading these and making the appropriate markings in your score, as Jason will continue rehearsals with the understanding that everyone is up to speed with last week's markings. These notes are also posted the the G&S website under 'Alto notes'. General choir-wide notes (such as rehearsal date/venue changes and performance times/dates/venues will be sent by Eliza and other board members to all.


OK, here goes:


Mvmt 1:

  • watch for the off-beats and emphasize them, e.g. on page 6, line 3, bar 3 (gla-CI-em), and page 8, line 3, last bar (sce-LE-ris)
  • (ditto for the final movement, on page 66, line 3, bar 3, and page 68, line 3, last bar)
  • Jason is yet to tell us if these are hard or soft gs and cs - so stay tuned for his notes on Germanic/Latin pronunciation

Mvmt 7:

  • page 27, line 3, bar 4 is p (in contrast with the previous mp bar)

Mvmt 8:

  • humming throughout

Mvmt 10:

  • page 41, emphasize the first beats of bars 5, 6 and 8 ("DES" and "DAR-ben")

Mvmt 20:

  • page 53, line 3, bars 1 and 2: watch the second note (after the C) in "hyrca": it's actually a G, not an A!


Finally, there are plenty of parodies of this piece, as well as some over-the-top performances. I will try to share one every now and then. I start with this, which is labelled 'BEST EVER' on YouTube. It has a translation which you may find helpful:





Alto notes Dec 11-Jan 15: nearly there, alti!

Dear Alti,


Apologies for my tardiness in getting these 'weekly' notes to you. Most of our rehearsal time has been spent on the Fefferman, and after last night's complete run-through, I hope you agree with me that it's starting to sound great and has the potential to be the thrilling world premiere that it could be come Jan 24!



-we will perform movement 8 from memory: learn it then tuck your music folder into your left armpit and prepare to sing, clap and stamp

- listen to the files for movement 9. 

-Matthew sent a link to Lainie's new practice track for movement 10 with all parts at equal volume (SATB.)



-page 6, bar 13, more forward. Pronounce 'shine' as 'shahn' (remove the 'r'), and same for longer, which should be pronounced 'long-ah'

-pages 12-13, bar 50-53 needs work. Listen to the CD or YouTube file (2' 37" onwards) here:

-page 18, 2nd last bar, altos can drop the 'sh' in 'shine

-page 20 - lightly. It's mf, not f!

-page 23 first bar is fortepiano

-listen to movement 2, and rehearse it, at home


Lainie will listen to us rehearse next week, so pull all the stops out and let's give it our best!


Jennifer, proud leader of the terrific alto section.

Some background to the Lauridsen:

Dear alti,


I found these notes by Thomas Oram (from interesting, and thought you might find it helps you understand this piece:


In the Mid-Winter Songs for chorus and orchestra, Lauridsen chose to set five poems of Robert Graves for his first choral cycle. Throughout the work Lauridsen displays the qualities that would put him at the forefront of neo-conservative choral composers, evoking the music of Benjamin Britten and Aaron Copland, while remaining perceptibly within his own conceptual framework.

Graves' classical background informs several of the poems in the work, most predominantly the first movement, "Lament for Pasiphae," in which the chorus bemoans the loss of the queen who sired the Minotaur. The pensive, foreboding movement opens with strikingly dramatic chords first from orchestra and then chorus to the words "Dying sun." At times the somewhat dissonant lyricism of the lines is reminiscent of Britten. However, Lauridsen employs little of the vaunted contrapuntal technique of the British composer, as the chorus is treated here as so often in Lauridsen's work, almost entirely homophonically; occasionally the women's voices are set in rough canon with the men's. At the halfway point and then again at the end, the "dying sun" chords return, punctuating the movement.

The brief second movement, "Like Snow," is a more light and brisk setting, in a madrigal-like vein running through Lauridsen's choral oeuvre. The frequent odd meters are often softened by Lauridsen's combination of them; for instance at the outset, two bars of five beats are followed by two of three, giving the overall effect of four syncopated bars of four beats. Colorful chords in the orchestra accompany the homophonic chorus; the orchestral interlude marking each section of text returns at the end in its most full realization.

"She Tells Her Love While Half Asleep," the third movement of the cycle, is a slow, heavily rubato setting in which the chorus is asked to declaim the text "like Gregorian chant." A repeated pair of chords from the strings is interspersed between each line of text, sung a cappella; between verses there is an extended lyric instrumental passage. The second verse is much as the first, concluding with a brooding cadence which leads smoothly into the dissonant dance that is the fourth movement, "Mid-Winter Waking." A Copland-like lyric melody in the strings serves to punctuate the choral lines. The setting smoothly shifts its meter throughout.

The final movement, "Intercession in Late October," employs warm tone clusters in the chorus against woodwind and strings which are also reminiscent of the music of Copland. The effect is one of poignancy and nostalgia, typical of the cycle as a whole, as the chorus pleads for mercy for the legendary King Midas.  Lauridsen in this movement once more inserts a highly expressive instrumental interlude after which the chorus again pleads "Spare him," at first more florid and finally in unison.

Alto notes from December 4

Good morning, alti,


Here are the notes from yesterday's rehearsal:



-  movement 4: "oo" should be a small and tight sound, where "oh" is broad

-  movement 10: it is crucial that everyone counts for themselves in this movement - put clear markings in your score for when the rhythm changes



p. 18 the word "warm" should sound long and open

pp. 20 and 26 the word "secretly" should end with the 'ly' forward

p. 24, last bar - alti, we are correct on the F#, which doesn't resolve until the sops move onto the A# on page 25!

pp. 28- sing to the downbeat: "(she tells her) Love"

p. 48 at the DS. al in the last bar, go back to page 45.





Alto Notes from November 20

Dear Alti,


Notes from November 20 (better late than never, right?):



- movement 2: more 'H' on the initial 'Ha'

- movement 4: "oo" should be a small and tight sound, where "oh" is broad

pp. 9-10 - make it sparse: aim to sing "yoo-goo-doo" three times each in total. If someone near you is singing, don't make a sound just then.

- movement 6: half of the alti should emphasize the "u" in "lunch", the other half emphasize "n"

- movement 7: light and playful; think "bee' but sing 'bum' with a bright vowel. At the slower section, the W3 line should emphasize the long vowel on A

- movement 10: very light



- 1. rehearse pages 12 and 13!

- 2. rehearse pages 22 and 23!



Alto notes from November 6

Dear Alti,

This week we rehearsed the Fefferman:

  • 2nd movement - mark in the beats in each bar!
  • 7th movement - the altos should sing the 'Women 3' line
  • 10th movement - listen to the files that Matthew sent
  • 12th movement - humming. If all else fails, sing a B. Jason will signal the bar line each time. Count with your finger on the score which bar we're up to!
  • Next week we will rehearse movements 9 and 10
  • Lainie will join us on November 20

Try this clip for some inspiring spoken/singing works of a similar nature:

We also rehearsed the Bach:

  • pp. 2-12: bring out the theme
  • Mark in your score where the altos have the theme
We also rehearsed the Lauridsen:

  • movement V. Sounding great!

Keep up the great work, alti,



Alto notes from Oct 16 (by Deb)


In Jennifer's absence, I'm sending them along.  Won't be as good, but

at least you'll get something!

We got a copy of the first few movements of the Lainie Fefferman.
Make sure you pick one up on your way in next rehearsal.  

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