Summer is Over!

Summer is over! Chicago Chorale resumes rehearsals next week, for the 2016-17 season. I wrote about our repertoire in my June 20 blog, and refer you to that, if you wish to refresh your memory. My pressing concern, now, is the accomplishment of all the mechanics which have to fall into place before or during our first rehearsal. First: our roster. We welcome seven new singers this fall: sopranos Rebecca Incledon and Cate Schmittle, altos Nicole Eubanks and Bethany Powell, tenor Peter Duda, and baritones Michael Modak-Truran and Riley Paul. All sang very strong auditions, and I look forward eagerly to hearing their contributions to Chorale’s sound and flexible expressivity. We look great on paper; I’m excited to hear what we actually sound like! Our first rehearsal, as always, will consist largely of voice placement—re-hearing all the singers and finding the optimal place for each in our seating/standing arrangement. We begin each preparation period with some version of this, but the Autumn placement is by far the most difficult and exacting, taking into account, as it must, the singers who have left us, as well as the incoming voices, in finding a new sound structure for each section. The Russian music we will sing this fall is rarely just four parts: at times, it can split into as many as ten or twelve separate lines, and we all want to know as soon as possible which voices will sing each line.

Second: our printed music. Chorale provides printed music for each singer—and this music must be purchased, processed, and put into folders, to be distributed before the singers even find their chairs next Wednesday. We are very fortunate in having a first-rate librarian, Amy Mantrone, who takes charge of this very necessary function. By day, Amy works at U of C’s Regenstein Library, and one would expect her to beg off doing the same thing at night—we are really lucky she doesn’t.

Third: we have to plan the physical configuration of our rehearsal space, and have it all set up in advance. We are moving to a new rehearsal venue this fall, with a new and complicated chancel arrangement into which we must fit all sixty of us, so this is no small thing-- not next week, not ever. I usually take charge of this myself—but I had knee replacement surgery over the summer, and am in no shape to be lugging chairs up and down steps, and moving pianos. Choir volunteers will have to learn to do this, and then do it each week. Just figuring out keys, the security system, light switches, the locations of bathrooms and drinking fountains, can be pretty flustering.

Fourth: attendance sheets, name cards, dues, folder deposits, snacks (yes, we even organize and regulate weekly snacks) also get started right from the beginning, under the leadership of our managing director, Megan Balderston. And she in the meantime will immediately involve members in planning our coming retreat, and in the promotion of our concert—passing out brochures, posters, announcing ticket sales, all the things managers tend to do behind the scenes.

And, finally: rehearsal. How frustrating it would be, to gather everyone and work out choreography, without actually feeling and hearing how it will all sound, getting to know the voices, as well as the names, of our new neighbors. The singers, as well as the conductor, want to know what we are in for, want some sampling of the season’s offerings. And since all of this music will be sung in Old Church Slavonic, we will start right out with our resident language coach, Drew Boshardy, who has been preparing his contribution at home—best to start out right, rather than iron in mistakes in an initial read-through, which have to be straightened out and corrected later on.

And then at 9:30: Jimmy’s! Where else…