Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Pit and the Pendulum, Part 2


Robert Baldwin, Music Director for the Salt Lake Symphony, Music Director for the Utah Philharmonia, and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Utah shares more of his thoughts on the importance of rhythm, meter, and tempo in music. He shares that music is not a perfect mathematical equation and neither is time in a musical piece. There is always ebb and flow. There is always adaptation, especially in live performances.

Before the Downbeat

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I’ll be climbing out of the pit after the last run of Susannah tonight.  It’s been a great experience, and full of potential for the pondering mind.  Inevitability.  Events that lead to something else.  The Grand Finale.  That incessant beat of the clock, metronome, and human heart; counting down to a predestined end.  Is this where we find meaningful rhythm and flow?  Or is it rather a stream into which we we enter, subdivide, and play?   Always present.  Welcoming us to participate.

The problem with the first example, is that it is too clinical, too easy.  In my experience it’s also completely wrong.  The thought that music, creativity, or life itself can be relegated to mere numbers is a popular misconception.  Yes, music is math.  Life is math.  Yes, proportions, ratios and relationships certainly exist.  But as human beings, our lives simply don’t operate this way.  Science is starting to…

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Logan’s American Festival Chorus performs the Messiah on its anniversary


Danielle Manley recently interviewed me about the American Festival Chorus performance of Handel’s Messiah. Here is her article. The Local Beat is a blog that features local talent from Cache Valley, UT. It’s great to have Danielle helping the community become more familiar with the American Festival Chorus. Give it a read!

The Local Beat

By: Danielle Manley

The Messiah was performed for the first time in 1742 in Dublin, Ireland.

Ben Burt performed a bass solo with the American Festival Chorus to commemorate the Messiah’s 270th anniversary on April 21, 2012.

The American Festival Chorus in Logan sang George Frideric Handel’s composition on Saturday in the Kent Concert Hall.

Many comments were received questioning the timing of the performance because it’s usually done during Christmas. For more than a decade, the Messiah was traditionally sang during Easter, Burt said.

There are three sections of the Messiah. The first section, usually performed during Christmas, is about the birth of Jesus Christ. The second section is about the resurrection and the third section is about the redemption of the people.

The AFC sang bits from the whole composition, but didn’t perform the whole piece. It lasts about three hours in its entirety, Burt said.

Craig…

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Charter for a New Men’s Acapella Group in Cache Valley, Utah


The website for the Men’s Acappella Chorus of Cache Valley can  be found here: http://bit.ly/L7dBAn.

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This blog is to declare my intentions of forming a new Men’s Acapella Group in Cache Valley, Utah and to solicit men (any guys really) to join and help organize this group.

Before you read this, if you are interested at all please contact me and let me know. You can comment on this blog, you can email me at detmer14@gmail.com, you can call me if you have my number, contact me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, any instant messenger, or talk to me in person. Please share this with all your friends you think may be interested. This group will gain popularity and prestige only by word of mouth.

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Update May 8, 2012:

We have begun rehearsals and have an initial group formed. We also have a hompage where we have posted more details about the group, a discussion forum containing discussions members have been having about the group, a page describing music we are working on and could possibly work on, and a rehearsal calendar.

This is our homepage: http://bit.ly/L7dBAn. Please visit this page if you are interested in the group in any fashion.

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I have always wanted to be in an men’s acapella group. While growing up in the 90s, I listened to a lot of Voice Mail, which was formed right here in Cache Valley by USU students. I also listened to some earlier recordings of BYU Vocal Point. I had also developed a love for the music of the King’s Singers while doing choir in High School and College. The human voice amazes me; especially the men’s singing voice. The human voice can create almost any sound with training. I love the female voice as well, but being a Bass singer myself, I feel a kinship to the male voice. And I am bias when I say I love the sound of a great men’s group; one that is well-disciplined and has refined their sound.

While at Junior College at the College of Eastern Utah (CEU) – now known as USU Easter, Dr. Russel Wilson – director of choral studies – started a men’s group of students. I was hooked instantly. It was mainly a Do Wop group singing songs like “Goodnight Sweetheart”, “The Longest Time”, etc. I actually came up with a name for the group too: Flipside. This showed some relation to vinyl records such as groups like the Platters. We even put on a concert in the student center. Russel Wilson had acquired some headset mics that we used. We had choreography, everything. And it was a blast. But I have really missed this.

I have attempted multiple times to get men’s groups together. My first year after transferring to USU, I tried to get a campus Men’s Choir club going. But there just wasn’t enough interest or enough dedicated people. I guess that makes sense being that it was a student club. It’s hard to expect students to be very dedicated. I gave up the idea until recently.

For 3 years, I had some great roommates that were also musically inclined. In fact, all of them were in a band together, called Three Weeks. The three of them and I would often sing in our LDS church meetings together. We would come up with our own parts on the fly. We didn’t necessarily stick to the hymn arrangements. And every now and again they would let me sing with their band.

After getting married, I didn’t have those roommates around anymore. Last year I was asked to sing in my LDS church ward. When I perform, I don’t want it to be mediocre. I want it to wow and amaze. So of course, I wanted to get a men’s acapella quartet together, which we did. And it was amazing! So much fun. I tried to do this one other time without success. People were either too busy or they didn’t feel the way I did about it.

So I’ve decided I would like to reach out to the public and my friends to see who might be interested in forming a men’s acapella group. No, I do not want this to be a men’s choir with piano accompaniment, nor do I necessarily want a conductor standing in front. Such groups are wonderful – I’ve even been able to participate in one recently. But everyone has to follow the conductor, and while there is still teamwork and a group effort, it’s nothing near as intimate as an acapella group. A group that rehearses in a tight circle so they can hear each other and feed off of each other’s energy. A group that shares ideas, a group that shares techniques, a group that educates each other. A group that, after sufficient time together, can perform at drop of a hat. No need to lug around a piano, keyboard, or other instruments.

Now the problem with trying to start such a group is that everyone has their own idea of what they want it to be. I’ve seen it with bands. And a difference of opinion can bring down the entire group. And I really do not want that to happen. I want this group to be ultra fun, and not cause stress or bad relations. I want this group to be accepting of other people’s voices and talents, but also strive for excellence and not settle for a mediocre sound. I am torn on how I want to approach this and I would like input from those interested in possibly joining such a group. I would also like suggestions from those who may not join this group, but like to give their opinion in such things in order to provide a wonderful resource for entertainment in the community.

I see multiple directions this group could go and I’m not sure which would be the most appropriate for those involved or which would be the most fun for the group. I know many men long to be in such a group, but feel they lack vocal training to be a good impact on the group. Many men are afraid of rejection. Many are afraid of getting “in over their heads” and trying to tackle something too difficult. It would be nice if this group could provide people in these situations a way of having fun singing in a men’s group without pressure. And also provide them a way of improving their voice and talent. Such a group could still put on wonderful concerts, fun for the whole community. But such a group has potential to be large and have a huge variety of voices. Being such, it is difficult to develop those “tight harmonies” that we’ve heard groups like the Temptations, the King’s Singers, and Acapella groups achieve.  But I’m thinking there is a way to have a piece of each pie.

Many Choral groups use a larger group as their talent mine. In High Schools, there are often large concert choirs, and then a smaller show choir – often called “Madrigals”. This happens at all colleges and universities as well. There is a larger group that may or may not be auditioned, and a smaller, more strictly-auditioned group. USU has their University Chorale and their USU Chamber Singers. I’ve heard rumors that even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does this. Recently, Dr. Craig Jessop of the American Festival Chorus indicated he wanted a smaller group of anywhere from 16 to 60 singers that would be called the American Festival Singers – a subset of AFC if you will. These smaller groups tackle more difficult material. They learn pieces faster. They have a much “tighter” sound than a large chorus. Think of any wonderful Chamber Choir music you’ve listened to. The Robert Shaw Singers or others.

This could potentially be possible with a men’s group, although on a smaller scale. But I’m not entirely sure this approach would work. Just as Dr. Craig Jessop, I do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Is it possible to have enough people for both groups? Would guys bail out if they weren’t included in the smaller group? I would not want such a group to fail. Or would the men involved be understanding of who was in the smaller group?  Does the smaller group need to be auditioned? Ideally, I’d like the smaller group to be very flexible, grabbing people from the larger group as needed. People have busy lives and often have too much going on to be able to participate in a concert. So in would step people to fill spots. Maybe we want a small quartet for one performance, but want a double, triple, or quadruple quartet for others. Guys could come and go from the group as needed due to… well, LIFE!

So there could potentially be concerts for the larger group and side concerts for the smaller group. I would also like this group to act as a pool of resources for people needing to get a group together for any performance – a church performance, community performance, a family gathering, etc. The men/guys can meet others in the group and have “side-bars” to get their own groups together as needed. You see what I’m doing here? I’m trying to provide a way to heal my own frustration with trying to get groups together. And I’m hoping this idea appeals to many men here in Cache Valley.

I would also like this group to be versatile in the type of music we sing. Men’s groups often migrate to performing solely barbershop music. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love barbershop music, and I would like this group to do a good helping of barbershop. But I want to include other types of music as well. I’d like to be able to do songs such as the King’s Singers and also boy’s/men’s acapella groups such as Voice Mail, Vocal Point, Rockapella, etc. I’d like to have the ability for the group to really “rock it” with some songs. I would also like to be able to do some tight chamber singing – such as the King’s Singers do. Some Madrigal singing – singing without the vocal effects recreating instruments. But I absolutely DO want to some acapella music with vocal instruments if at all possible.

Here are some the influences I would like this group to have, but I’m very flexible:
King’s Singers, Swingle Singers, Chanticleer, Cantus, Acapella groups (Voice Male, Vocal Point, Eclipse, Rockapella, and many others), Barbershop in all its forms, Do Wop groups / Motown groups (Temptations, Del Vikings, Billy Joel songs, Four Tops, etc.), Chamber groups such as Anuna, Cambridge College Singers, King’s College Singers, Robert Shaw Singers.

The influences would also be very flexible. I want the group members to contribute ideas of songs to do. To try out new stuff – potentially not even to perform, just try it out. We would experiment with our repertoire.

I sincerely hope this interests a lot of you men out there. I want to develop camaraderie with you guys. I’m a pretty fun guy, and I want us all to have similar attitudes to this group. Please let me know if you are even a little interested. I would hate for this idea to fail due to not enough guys being interested.

I would also like everyone’s input on these ideas. What do you like? What don’t you like? What would you change? What additions would you make? What direction would you want such a group to head into? I want to see what your ideas and mesh them with mine. I want this group to appeal to EVERYONE. And I think we can make it work for everyone. Have you thought of joining such a group before? Have you thought of starting your own group before?

I would also like this Charter to be flexible for the time being. I’ll add others’ ideas as well as my own as it becomes more organized. Ideally, I’d like to get some sort of meeting scheduled to discuss ideas with group members. It will take time to get this going, but I would not like to dilly dally. Otherwise, such an idea never picks up speed or enough momentum to carry itself.

If you are interested at all please contact me and let me know. You can comment on this blog, you can email me at detmer14@yahoo.com, you can call me if you have my number, contact me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, any instant messenger, or talk to me in person. Please share this with all your friends you think may be interested. This group will gain popularity and prestige only by word of mouth.

Here are some ideas I have for the purposes or ideals this group will strive for – call it a mission statement maybe:

To have fun singing as men above all!
To share ideas for men’s acapella songs and share music you love.
To develop our vocal talents together by helping each other get better. Help each other develop good vocal quality.
To prepare songs to perform at any type of event.
Hopefully to develop a group that can “tour” Cache Valley and put on concerts if it develops enough fans.

Undecided aspects of this group (give your input please):

Rehearsal schedule – it’s often very difficult for some people to meet on a weekly basis. Would it be better to meet twice a month? Or weekly, but be understandable if people can only make 2 a month? Those who are more dedicated may get opportunities to do more.
Should there be auditions for this group in any fashion? Do you want any part of the group to be auditioned? Or do you want it completely open?
Where to rehearse? Need ideas on locations that have a piano and hopefully decent acoustics. I do not have connections to be able to rehearse in community centers. I would love it if someone could help out with that. Or maybe we’ll need to meet at someone’s houses. We will really have to observe how the group evolves and adjust as needed or desired.

Action items that need to be taken care of:

I need to create a Google Site to house group information and documents. As well as house a calendar and a group forum.
Come up with a time for an initial meet and greet to discuss the group.

Additional skills and resources that would be really nice for this group although not necessary for any member:

People with access to schedule concerts at venues.
People with access to sheet music. We need to develop a small music library of some sort for the group.
People with organizational skills.
People who can compose music – It would be nice to have someone who can help write music if we see a song we’d like to sing but don’t have the music or want our own arrangements. This person doesn’t have to sing at all.

Rhythm in Music


Robert Baldwin, Music Director for the Salt Lake Symphony, Music Director for the Utah Philharmonia, and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Utah shares his thoughts on the importance of rhythm, meter, and tempo – an aspect of music often neglected when focusing on notes, pitches, timbre, sound quality, etc.

Dr. Craig Jessop, director of the American Festival Chorus, stresses this as well. Dr. Jessop uses “count singing” – a method he inherited from studying with Robert Shaw and the Robert Shaw Singers. This is where the notes are sung by singing “One, Two, Tee, Four”. This ensures the musicians keep an “inner pulse” going on inside their head when the time comes to put actual words to the music. It also helps musicians know exactly when notes are moving, beginning and ending of phrases, and note durations. Dr. Jessop swears by this practice.

Before the Downbeat

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I’ve emerged from the pit thinking about rhythm and tempo.  I’m there all week with the orchestra putting together Carlisle Floyd’s opera, Susannah.  There’s a lot that can go wrong on stage, and even more with this show as it includes live gunshots!  All in all, it was a good first rehearsal.  The only lingering issues are finding a consensus with rhythm and tempo.

Certainly, these are two things that are very important to my craft as a conductor.  Tempo control, metric organization and rhythmic precision are all something that is a great responsibility for all of us–the conductor, singer, and orchestra.  But behind all my admonishments to “watch the stick,” “play the subdivision correctly,” and  “don’t rush (or drag),” there is a deeper truth to the importance of flow and rhythm in the music.

“Time is like a superglue, keeping our story in order as we navigate the world…

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American Festival Chorus Concert – Sun Valley Summer Spectacular


Sun Valley Resort (http://bit.ly/HsFQYh) and Sun Valley Opera (http://bit.ly/HsFYHo) present Sun Valley Summer Spectacular with the American Festival Chorus and singer Alyson Cambridge on June 30, 2012 at the Sun Valley Pavilion in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Concert details: http://bit.ly/HsG6Xp\
More Concert details: http://bit.ly/HsJ1PV

The American Festival Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Craig Jessop, are joined by Soprano Alyson Cambridge (http://bit.ly/HsGcyg) for this incredible evening of uplifting and beautiful music for the entire family! Come join us in beautiful Sun Valley for this incredible evening!

Add this event to your Google Calendar: http://bit.ly/HXC3Q8

Join the Facebook Event: http://on.fb.me/HsMvls

Further details to follow.

Blog on this event: http://bit.ly/HsUUFm

Tickets:
Buy Tickets Online: http://bit.ly/HsIJs0
To order general admission tickets call Sun Valley Resort 208-622-2135

Seating Map: http://bit.ly/HsITjj

GENERAL TICKETS can be purchased online at seats.sunvalley.com, through the Sun Valley Recreation Center in the Sun Valley Village, or by calling (208) 622-2135/(888) 622-2108.
All tickets are non-refundable.

DIVA TICKETS can be purchased online at www.sunvalleyopera.com, or by calling the Sun Valley Opera at (208) 726-0991.

Hotel Package available – Spend a memorable evening with the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra and special guest star Alyson Cambridge, then enjoy one night’s lodging in the Sun Valley Lodge or Inn for $133.50, per person, double occupancy, (includes two show tickets).
Call 800-786-8259.

WILL CALL/TICKET OFFICE opens at 6pm the night of the show at the Pavilion. They can also be printed at the Sun Valley Recreation Office in the Sun Valley Village in advance prior to June 30th, 2012.
Phone: (208) 622-2135 / (888) 622-2108.
Seating is reserved inside the Pavilion
– The last 5 rows are exposed to the weather

Location: Sun Valley Pavillion, 300 Dollor Rd., Sun Valley, Idaho
Google Map: http://bit.ly/HsGMMd

Gate opens at 7:00 p.m.

“A frequent and compelling presence on the recital and concert stages, lyric soprano Alyson Cambridge makes an encore appearance on the Sun Valley Opera’s concert stage on June 30, 2012. Equally comfortable in her high and low ranges, Ms. Cambridge has been appearing to critical acclaim around the world, has been signed by Choppard Diamonds to appear in their ads and is part of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s bold new advertising campaign in which a 5 story poster of Alyson hangs on the outside of its building.” – Sun Valley Opera

Snocountry.com is offering a special rate for lodging and tickets to the American Festival Chorus and Alyson Cambridge performance. They will be $133.50 per person, double occupancy, (includes two show tickets). Call 800-786-8259.
http://bit.ly/HsDOra

News Articles:
Sun Valley Opera: http://bit.ly/HsGSDC
Idaho Mountain Express and Guide: http://bit.ly/GXx2KD

Sun Valley Opera Website: http://bit.ly/HsHysC
Sun Valley Resort Website: http://bit.ly/HsFQYh
Alyson Cambridge Website: http://bit.ly/HsGcyg

Here is Alyson Cambridge performing in the Elardo Opera Competition: http://bit.ly/HsIr4t


Here are two promos from our Sun Valley concert with Maureen McGovern in 2011:http://bit.ly/HsLNoi


Here is the promo video from our Sun Valley concert with Peter Cetera in 2010:http://bit.ly/HsMcqH

Musings of Master Music Teacher, Richard Wesp


Alfred Leger Lines Blog shares their interview with Richard Wesp, a choral director who taught in a school district for 57 years. He shares his thoughts on the importance of integrating Arts with any type of education.

Alfred Music Blog

Richard WespWe recently had the opportunity to interview Richard Wesp, an extremely popular choral director who spent 57 years teaching in the Forest Hills School District in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Wesp is a recipient of both the Ohio MEA Distinguished Service Award and the CCM Distinguished Alumni Award. Having taught well over 10,000 students in his career before retiring in June 2011, he has had many opportunities to share his passion for music education with students, student teachers, and now, with other educators.

What is the value of music and arts education in the schools today and has it changed since you started in the classroom?
In the current trend of budget cutting, the arts remain an integral part of any complete education. Years ago, it may have just been a general feeling regarding how important the arts are, but now we have a large body of research that shows exactly…

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Reflections from the Past


Robert Baldwin, Music Director for the Salt Lake Symphony and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Utah, shares his insight into Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” and Ottorino Respighi’s “Church Windows.” The Utah Philharmonia will be performing these pieces this Thursday at the Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

Before the Downbeat

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In Back to the Future, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) travels from 1985 back to the time when his parents were young, ancient 1955.  He experiences all sorts of awkward situations, but in the end discovers that he shares many traits with his parents.   In essence, they are not really much different (although he is a lot cooler, naturally). Marty learns valuable lessons from the past that help him alter the perspective of his own life (and, of course, save the day).

The human mind has always been fascinated with the past, whether it’s our individual lives, or the collective history of an entire civilization.  We somehow believe that it is possible to find something important by studying the past. It might be lost wisdom.  Perhaps it is secret knowledge.  But in the end, all that we are really trying to do is understand something about ourselves.

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