Usually when you see a choir performing with an orchestra you see a huge group of singers. Even professional choirs usually hire 40+, but 21 collegiate (mostly underclassmen) against a full orchestra?! Yeah, that doesn’t happen often, but last night, our HC College Choir not only held their own, they were glorious, singing out over the Universidad del Salvador orchestra (a very fine band) just like pros.
How did this happen? Teaching and dedication. Going into the spring semester, our vocologist (voice scientist), Laurel Mehaffey, and myself set out with the goal to teach the choir how to sing operatically. That’s a goal that most people reserve for decades of study, and we had 45 days. We condensed the main elements of operatic singing into individual parts, explained them scientifically, and worked to help the students gain the physical sensations necessary to recreate them. The singers were profoundly dedicated to this process, and they nailed it. So much so that yesterday with their vocal tracts aligned and stabilized, and their articulators working together in time, vibrato synched up, breath pressure engaged, they produced all the right high frequencies to float their sound out over that huge band, and simultaneously make every word intelligible. Perhaps we should write a book “How To Sing Opera In 45 Days: A day in the life of the HC Choir”?
I’ve never been so happy to work with a group of singers. I even got so carried away, that I lost my baton, which flew across the room and landed at the feet of the Buenos Aires Minister of Culture, who, kindly, returned it to me just in time for the final crescendo.
~David Harris, director