The process of making a concert come to life is an interesting one that involves a lot of people! First the music is selected for each of the choirs to learn. Choosing music that is educational, appropriately challenging for each choir, having contrasting styles and tempos so as to be appealing to students and audience members alike are some of the goals. Usually hundreds of pieces of music are sorted through to come up with the 18-20 songs selected for the concert. Second and most importantly, the music is taught over a period of about 10 weeks. For some choirs this is a once a week hour long rehearsal, for the show choirs, an additional hour and a half is added weekly to learn choreography for the songs. This process of studying the music and learning vocal technique and musical understanding through each song is where the joy of teaching and learning choral music comes. The comradery among choir members as they learn to blend and create unique and beautiful sound is also a personally fulfilling component of the choir experience.
I had to pause to take a picture this week of the Gracenotes Girls feet during our warm up. Being multi-taskers as they are, as we were singing several girls spontaneously placed their feet in “first position,” and the quirky idea spread quickly as they all joined in line. It seemed like a bonding moment, so I pulled out my phone to snap a picture. Not missing a beat, they rapidly linked arms, wove hands, and created an even more symbolic representation of the connection they feel as friends and singing companions. I loved it when one late arriver was quickly instructed how to join the group, as she hurriedly threw off her coat and backpack. They did not want a picture without the complete choir, and I didn’t want to take one either after they had refined their pose so particularly. These girls have bonded musically and as a choir, and you can hear it in the way they sing, and see it in their faces as they dance. These simple experiences build kids up, and make memories that last a life time. Choirs are so good for people for so many reasons!
Back to the creation of a concert. The third aspect is the production process. After all that work to learn music, we naturally want to share it. Rehearsals are scheduled in the performance venue. Volunteers set up and decorate the stage, set up sound equipment, and program lighting. This year we are borrowing risers from the Sherwood School District, and learning how to work in a new space at the Sherwood Center for the Arts. We have hours devoted to working out timing and technical issues. We have a script written to connect the music thematically and our MC Dave Sweeney will help us present it. In past years the concerts have been “shows” with a story line, props, sets, costume changes and A LOT of extra rehearsal outside of choir rehearsals. This year we are returning to an old format, and just focusing on the music, simplifying the script and eliminating 2 evening rehearsals. Since our venue is larger than previous years, we are only doing one show, and we’ve changed the time to late afternoon, all to help decrease the VPA footprint on busy families in the month of December.
We’re sure the concert will be very engaging because the music is first rate, and the students will be well prepared and versed in the art of “selling” a song. We want to “Wish You Christmas” through our music, and we hope it will help you catch the “Spirit of Christmas”. See you Dec. 12 at 4 pm!