Day #3 of Podium was a self-indulgent one. It was a particularly gorgeous summer day in Ottawa and a leisurely morning blogging and chatting with friends meant that I only caught the end half of the Toronto Children’s Chorus Chamber Choir (TCCCC) performance. I should preface my following comments with the fact that I am not a fan of choirs that don’t sound like they’re singing with their full range. I just felt like the TCCCC had so much more sound to offer but it remained buried beneath a very proper choral façade. Don’t get me wrong, the notes were all there, the rhythm was there, but I just found their interpretation of the music to be too clinical. I find that when children’s voices are not used to their full range they just sound like they’re in a stunted state of childhood. Childhood should be the time to experiment with our vocal instruments. I understand it’s a completely choral sound aesthetic preference; it just so happens that theirs doesn’t appeal to me.
The Hamilton Children’s Choirs and High Park Choirs (HCC/HPC) were stunning. It made me wish I was 13 again so that I could go and sing in these choirs. They have such control over a wide range of vocal colours and it resulted in such a unified voice. Their show-stopping pieces for me were definitely Hatfield’s “Las Amarillas” and Rajaton’s “Pakkanen”. The TCCCC performed Las Amarillas earlier in the day; however, the HCC/HPC performance re-calibrated my quality bar for the performance. My favorite part of the HCC/HPC is what when they use choralography, it does not take away from the singing. In many ways, it doesn’t even appear as if you’re watching movement, it just feels like you’re viewing an organic entity that visually and aurally embodies the music. Brava HCC/HPC, brava!
My afternoon was filled with some quality voces boreales time as they were the demo choir for Zaugg’s Podium session and they also performed in the afternoon spotlight concert. Zaugg session focused on utilizing varying aural tools to help balance chords and hear better within a choir. There were demos from bright to dark vowel placement in chords, the question of vibrato or no vibrato, and always listening to the softest note in the chord. Zaugg elicited chords from voces boreales and challenged session attendees to listen to which part is the softest, and instead of making those louder sing quieter, he instructed the softer part to sing out. The concert following the session was stunning. voces boreales performed “Die Erste Elegie” by Rautavaara and I was just amazed at how fluid and effortless it sounded. I remember tackling this piece with Pro Coro in the fall; it was hard work… and you could hear it. This was followed by Holten’s “Regn og rusk og rosenbusk,” another piece I haven’t heard of before but I love it. It had so many interesting choral characters throughout the story, which was from a Hans Christen Andersen’s Rain, Rush, Rosebush tale.
Quintessential comprised the second half of the concert. They had a set of unique arrangement of folk tunes by Kathleen Allan, which I felt suited their Newfoundland spirit very well. The sound of Quintessential is definitely vibrant and powerful. I can see why they have been representing Canada well on the international choral scene.
With the sun shining and a view of the parliament buildings in the background conference, the Podium Gala also rounded off the day. On the top floor of the centre, conductors, choristers, and choir music enthusiasts celebrated Canadian choral talent with an awards ceremony. A perfect culmination to a weekend filled with choral music sessions and concerts.
And with that dear readers, I am signing off as your official choir girl Podium correspondent. Belle Canto will be departing the conference today so my daily posts and twitter updates will now come to a close. I hope you have enjoyed following me through my first Podium experience and I hope there will be many more to come. After all, Podium 2014 will be in Halifax, NS…
-The Choir Girl (Author of the Choir Girl Blog)