Regular readers may have noticed that my usual writing pace has slacked a bit over the last week. I’ve been engaged in a musical pursuit, specifically, Karl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The choir in which I serve as the men’s section leader, the Southwestern Seminary Master Chorale (Dr. David Thye, Director) is the principal choir of the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra (Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Conductor). We perform with the symphony many times each year, and from time to time the symphony programs a major work that requires a very large chorus, more than our usual 100-125 complement. In this case, we ended up with about 180 singers.
Carmina Burana is such a work, so two additional choruses, and several tenors from another, were added. A critique of one of the three performances is available here.
The entire work takes a bit over an hour to perform at brisk tempos, and is also demanding to rehearse. That’s why I’ve been a bit preoccupied. Last week we had rehearsal on Tuesday night, dress rehearsal on Thursday night, performances on Friday and Saturday nights and a matinee performance on Sunday. For tenors—I’m among the rarest of the rare, a true first tenor–the work is exhausting, spending an enormous amount of time at “g” or higher—at forte or fortissimo volume levels–and occasionally leaping to “c,” so my time away from rehearsal or performance last week was spent in sleeping or recovery. Many people don’t understand how exhausting singing on this level is. The entire body is the instrument, and works like Carmina Burana demand world-class levels of exertion and concentration.
The performances were done at Bass Hall, the home of the Symphony. It’s a gorgeous, world-class performance hall with exceptional acoustics. Photos are available here. That’s one of the two angels on the north face of the hall at the top of the article.
Because we sing with the Symphony so often, it’s almost easy to take those opportunities for granted, but whenever I walk onstage in Bass Hall, I never fail to remind myself of where I am, and of the tiny portion of humanity that will ever have the opportunities I so often enjoy. Yes, I worked very hard for many years to earn those opportunities, but they are precious nonetheless. Speaking with members of the other choirs that rarely have such opportunities was a worthwhile reminder of how blessed I am in so many ways.
I’m still a bit tired, but am recovering nicely, and I beg your leave for my temporary absence. But now, as Ricky Ricardo would have said: “Lucy, I’m hoooooommme!
More articles to follow this week…