Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Practice, practice, practice

In the wonderful way things often fall together at the last minute, last night's performance by Village Harmony was a great success, and all of the performers were well fed and properly housed. In fact we ended up with more beds than the 18 we needed!

Larry Gordon's intrepid group of 17 VH alumni performed music from the the USA, renaissance Western Europe, South Africa, Bulgaria and the Republic of Georgia. Rarely does one hear an ensemble of singers in such a variety of music, but to hear different musical styles sung in different vocal styles is almost unheard of. No one would mistake Village Harmony for Ladysmith Black Mambazo, or a convention of traditional Sacred Harp singers, or Les Mystères des Voix Bulgares. But one can say, quite rightly, that Larry's singers know that you just don't sing Byrd like Billings and you don't sing Georgian liturgical chant like a hymn from South Africa. And the programming — mixing and matching pieces from all over the place, producing a timbre appropriate for each part of the world — is eye-opening for those who are not aware of these things, and delightful for those who are.

I also had the singular pleasure of introducing four of the group to the Michael Pestel Musical Menagerie. Every time I am at Michael's house there seems to be a new instrument of two. He makes a lot of them himself, and what he doesn't make he modifies. The prepared piano always has some new refinement... But that's another blog for another time.

My agenda now is — practice, practice, practice! Davd and I are recording "General William Booth Enters into Heaven" on Friday, and that alone is reason to be hitting the ivories several hours a day.

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