Auditions for Season 2013-14!
Chorale is currently in the thick of new singer auditions for the 2013-14 season. As usual, we have openings in all four sections; also as usual, we have fewer openings for tenors and sopranos, than we have for lowers voices. Chorale tends to have outstanding, and stable, tenor and soprano sections; we have more turnover in alto and bass. Numerous explanations come to mind, none of them really believable or sufficient, for this imbalance; it probably has something to do with the way I behave toward these sections. Weston Noble once told me—when you don’t understand why something is happening/going wrong, look at yourself, first. He was usually right.
What sort of singer does Chorale want?
We want singers with excellent pitch memory and interval recognition, and sufficient technique to sing consistently in tune, without distortion or uncontrolled vibrato. We want singers with innate, comfortable rhythmic sense, who feel the rise and fall of the musical phrase and know, confidently, naturally, when to get in, when to get out.
We want singers who are confident enough that they are free to listen to the rest of the choir, rather than focus solely on their own singing. We want them to be able to “listen louder than they sing.”
We want singers who read music fluently—or, lacking that, read it well enough that they can, and will, work out problems on their own, and arrive at rehearsal far enough along that they can keep up with better readers.
Chorale wants singers who have facility with languages—or who, at the very least, will prepare foreign languages painstakingly, on their own, and be able to contribute to the choir’s efforts, rather than be in need of constant correction. Language is the singer’s greatest single gift , the thing that sets the singer apart from the instrumentalist and makes the vocal art special and irreplaceable. Chorale cares a great deal about language.
Chorale wants singers who commit themselves to regular, prompt attendance. Tardiness and spotty attendance really drag a group down, inject an element of disrespect for the music, for the group, for the conductor. Along with this—Chorale wants singers who respect and admire one another, who are happy to work together, to face the same direction, listen to one another, and produce a unified product.
We want singers who are drawn to the music we program—who are moved, challenged, stimulated by great musical literature.
I purposefully leave vocal quality to last. Yes, Chorale want good voices, with interesting color and dynamic possibilities. But we care more about the musician, than about the singer—we want our singers to place their voices at the service of the music, of the composer, of the ensemble, rather than at the service of some abstract standard of vocal production. We want our singers to love their voices; we want them to love music even more.