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Upcoming Performances

July 2, 6:00 pm
Guest recitalist, Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Cazères, France

July 18
Guest recitalist, Church of St. Jacques, Muret, France

August 20, 3:00 pm Central
Inaugural recitalist, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Enterprise, Ala.

September 10
Guest recitalist, First United Methodist Church, Charlotte, N.C.

October 1, 4:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville, Ga.

October 15, 4:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First United Methodist Church, Gastonia, N.C.

March 9, 2018, 12:15 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C.

March 11, 2018
Guest recitalist, Waldensian Presbyterian Church, Valdese, N.C.

May 13, 2018, 5:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, N.C.

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Friday
Nov132015

’Tis the season

I am the ‘sole proprietor’ at my university of an annual Messiah Singalong, the format for which I ‘stole’ from the same event at First Presbyterian, Houston. When I was at that church, one of my highlights each year was the first Sunday evening of December, when we would fling wide the doors to a full house (roughly 1000) of eager singers. We would hand them each a Watkins Shaw edition to sing from. There was a pickup orchestra, yours truly on harpsichord, and a hired friend of mind to play the organ or “cattle prod,” as I liked to call it. Our choir soloists sang the arias, our beloved John Yarrington conducted, and the assembled audience sang all the choruses. We would perform every note of Part I, plus Hallelujah, Worthy, and Amen. It was the greatest night of the year, to kick off the most wonderful time of the year.

So when I moved back to my alma mater to teach, it only took me a year without my annual Singalong fix to re-invent it for our purposes here. So, each fall I audition any interested voice majors for the arias/recits. I have the program and publicity prepared, I borrow Messiah scores from two local churches to add to our own stash here, and we have at it! I play the organ, no orchestra. We are about to mount our 11th annual performance on December 6 at 6 pm.

The event has evolved only slightly to include student conductors, rather than a recruited faculty member. Otherwise, it is unchanged from what I was used to in Houston. One year, we were nearly snowed out, but I went on with it, minus a few soloists who couldn’t get there. But I learned my lesson – NEVER cancel Messiah unless the university closes, because there are community members who would brave snow or fire to get here. They wouldn't miss singing those first four notes of ‘Hallelujah’ for anything.

Each fall, I remind our voice faculty and staff accompanists to be on the lookout for potential soloists to send my way for auditions. And so, Dear Reader, if you’re interested in auditioning, here’s what I look for in soloists:

-- I like it when a singer owns the story and doesn’t get stuck on the rests in a recit.

-- Anyone auditioning for ‘O thou that tellest’ or ‘He shall feed’ should prepare the recit as well. I tend to blackball people who don’t know the recit. And I certainly blackball anyone who is not willing to learn it.

-- Fast arias: the faster and more fearless, the better.

-- Transposed arias are fine. I’m also happy with sopranos singing the tenor pieces.

-- I like both versions of ‘Rejoice.’

-- I like it when mezzos sing ‘He shall feed’ in 4, not in 12. That will always be a deal breaker.

-- I like it when sopranos sing ‘He shall feed’ and ‘Come unto him’ in 4, not in 12. That will always be a deal breaker.

-- Anyone who sings more than one thing in the audition stands a better chance of getting something. That would allow more joy to be shared with more people, e.g., a recit to one person and the aria to another.

-- Assuming pitch and rhythm are intact, a singer’s fearlessness will usually tip my scales. It’s what we need for this performance that goes up with several handicaps: 1) little time for more than only one run-through onstage per singer; 2) a big acoustic; 3) a distant, non-percussive accompanying instrument (the organ).

Sing on.

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