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Well, folks let me tell you, listening the the choral finale of Mahler 2 is inspiring, but singing it…  Next level experience.  We had the Calgary Youth Orchestra and 3 other choirs join my choir to tackle this monumental piece.  Every chorister should have the opportunity to sing in this iconic musical experience.

Original German

Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n
Wirst du, Mein Staub,
Nach kurzer Ruh’!
Unsterblich Leben! Unsterblich Leben
wird der dich rief dir geben!

Wieder aufzublüh’n wirst du gesät!
Der Herr der Ernte geht
und sammelt Garben
uns ein, die starben!

—Friedrich Klopstock

O glaube, mein Herz, o glaube:
Es geht dir nichts verloren!
Dein ist, ja dein, was du gesehnt!
Dein, was du geliebt,
Was du gestritten!

O glaube
Du wardst nicht umsonst geboren!
Hast nicht umsonst gelebt, gelitten!

Was entstanden ist
Das muss vergehen!
Was vergangen, auferstehen!
Hör’ auf zu beben!
Bereite dich zu leben!

O Schmerz! Du Alldurchdringer!
Dir bin ich entrungen!
O Tod! Du Allbezwinger!
Nun bist du bezwungen!

Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen,
In heißem Liebesstreben,
Werd’ ich entschweben
Zum Licht, zu dem kein Aug’ gedrungen!

Sterben werd’ ich, um zu leben!
Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n
wirst du, mein Herz, in einem Nu!
Was du geschlagen
zu Gott wird es dich tragen!
—Gustav Mahler

In English

Rise again, yes, rise again,
Will you My dust,
After a brief rest!
Immortal life! Immortal life
Will He who called you, give you.

To bloom again were you sown!
The Lord of the harvest goes
And gathers in, like sheaves,
Us together, who died.

—Friedrich Klopstock

O believe, my heart, O believe:
Nothing to you is lost!
Yours is, yes yours, is what you desired
Yours, what you have loved
What you have fought for!

O believe,
You were not born for nothing!
Have not for nothing, lived, suffered!

What was created
Must perish,
What perished, rise again!
Cease from trembling!
Prepare yourself to live!

O Pain, You piercer of all things,
From you, I have been wrested!
O Death, You conqueror of all things,
Now, are you conquered!

With wings which I have won for myself,
In love’s fierce striving,
I shall soar upwards
To the light which no eye has penetrated!

Die shall I in order to live.
Rise again, yes, rise again,
Will you, my heart, in an instant!
That for which you suffered,
To God shall it carry you!
—Gustav Mahler

Featuring the Cape Town Youth Choir

 

And another version –

Remembrance Day is a conflicted day for me, I have had the absolute luxury of never having to fight in an armed conflict and for that I am grateful.

Conversely, the application of military power is always the sign of the failure of the human spirit when we must resort to destroying nations and people for what is purported to be what is “right”.  We must remember all of those who gave their lives and have had their lives taken from them.  John Pilgers quote speaks to the merciless nature of war.

During World War One, 10% of all casualties were civilians.

During World War Two, the number of civilian deaths rose to 50%.

During the Vietnam War, 70% of all casualties were civilians.

In the war in Iraq, civilians account for up to 90% of all deaths.

Sobering figures to say the least.

Speaking of participating in Remembrance Day activities, I had a concert yesterday and my choir, called Soldiers Cry.  It was special as Roland Majeau came to sing his song with us, he brought his guitar and accompanied us while he sang the solo line.   The song is rhythmically very challenging. As you’re sitting there listening, clap your hands softly to find the pulse of the music. Notice that all the lyrics start when your hands are apart. This piece of music has syncopation in spades, making it just a bear to learn.

The second challenge for me is not to think of the damn video while singing, because becoming emotional/getting misty does bad things to your vocal instrument. :/

I’ll apologize now for the disjointed nature of this post.  Days like today do much to stir the emotional pot as they raise many conflicting feelings about how we treat the past, and which parts we choose to focus on.  Our history contains a staggering amount of violence , every day could be like November 11th for all the people who have unjustly lost their lives during conflict.

I hope that on days like today people understand, even for just a short while. the importance of history and how the past makes our future.  Understanding what we have done, and why, is vital in constructing a coherent view of the world.

I’m not sure how many people really get the horror of war and the terrible price we all pay being party to it, but if Remembrance Day awakens a twinge of empathy, a stirring of consideration, even a feeling of “I don’t want that”, then days like this should be considered to valuable and worth continuing.

Joyful Noise

Update: The concert went very well, we played to a full house and managed to get an encore out of the proceedings.  :)

Yes, if you get a chance to go to this live, spend the $$ and the time and go experience it.

The motet is laid out for eight choirs of five voices (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass). It is most likely that Tallis intended his singers to stand in a horseshoe shape. Beginning with a single voice from the first choir, other voices join in imitation, each in turn falling silent as the music moves around the eight choirs. All forty voices enter simultaneously for a few bars, and then the pattern of the opening is reversed with the music passing from choir eight to choir one. There is another brief full section, after which the choirs sing in antiphonal pairs, throwing the sound across the space between them. Finally all voices join for the culmination of the work. Though composed in imitative style and occasionally homophonic, its individual vocal lines act quite freely within its fairly simple harmonic framework, allowing for an astonishing number of individual musical ideas to be sung during its ten-to-twelve minute performance time. The work is a study in contrasts: the individual voices sing and are silent in turns, sometimes alone, sometimes in choirs, sometimes calling and answering, sometimes all together, so that, far from being a monotonous mess, the work is continually presenting new ideas.

The work is not often performed, as it requires at least forty singers capable of meeting its technical demands. The discipline that comes with performing the masterpiece is highlighted in the importance of the conductor and the performers alike. Whilst performers are distributed throughout a venue, the conductor becomes truly the hub for the piece throughout, as often there is little or no visibility between the performers, and a large venue will present acoustical challenges, not regarded with traditional choirs co-located.

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s Day.  Just finished singing this in choir, great piece and as usual, the tenor part is the hardest.. :)

There  are many iterations of this song all over youtube.  I find this one poignant because of the juxtaposition of the military band so prominently in the foreground while the children tucked almost completely out of sight intoning the hopeful hymn – “Give us peace”.  Draw your ironic comparisons as you wish.   I’d stop at 1:45 as the rest is seems a little out of place, so don’t say you haven’t been warned. :)

 

Music is our great hope, the universal language, and the ultimate unifier. I can appreciate music from 1720 Venice just as easily as I can music from 1970 Toronto. Further, I’ve been doing so since before I could speak. Such is the power of music that distances of 7000 km and 250 years are rendered moot without the slightest effort. Yet, when one does apply effort, the tunnels of discovery are complex and endless. The study of music can reveal an immense amount about the people, the society, the generation, and the human experience involved in its creation. In nothing else is so much information so readily available to so many.

While these powers can be experienced and appreciated just by listening, their magnitude and influence grow exponentially when one partakes in the creation of music. Again, no special skills are required. Sure, instruments can take years to master, but anyone can take part in song. Indeed, in testament to its unifying power, any lack of singing ability is progressively rubbed out as more and more people join in a song. No one ever needed a voice lesson for a camp fire sing along.

As a wondrous demonstration of this limitless potential for connectivity and understanding to bridge the many powers of division in the world, I present Virtual Choir. Headed by visionary composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, it is an online community dedicated to bringing the world together through singing.

I cannot do justice to this fantastic project, nor can I match the charisma of the main man himself. So here, along with links to the glorious end products, Virtual Choir, Virtual Choir 2.0, and Virtual Choir 3, I will turn the stage over to Mr. Whitacre and his TED Talk, the inspirational video that introduced me to Virtual Choir, and the Kickstarter video for Virtual Choir 4.

One of the accomplishments of which I am most proud is taking part in Virtual Choir 3. Please join me in participating in, supporting, and spreading the word of Virtual Choir 4.

Links:
Virtual Choir 4 Kickstarter Page
Eric Witacre’s Site

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