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Do-It-Yourself Bach's B Minor Mass kicks ass.

About a hundred hardy souls showed up at the church in Oak Park, maybe forty of whom had sung the piece before. We had four lovely soloists (although the tenor squeaked a bit on his high notes), a brave director, and a sturdy pianist. And we plowed our way through this masterpiece, starting from Kyrie I all the way through Dona Nobis Pacem. And it was glorious. A little ragged in parts, but we mostly managed to stay together, and it sounded really cool! Especially when we split into double choirs for the Osanna. That was neat. And it's a great way to experience a work like this, too. It's entertaining, challenging, and beautiful, and by the end, you have a far more intimate connection with the B Minor Mass than if you'd just sat and listened to a choir sing it.

In short: Going to a singalong B Minor Mass was a totally awesome thing to do, and I loved every bit of it. Thank you, rhobike!


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 13th, 2012 04:59 pm (UTC)
So, what you are saying is that you and around 99 other people just showed up, unrehearsed, and sang straight through the mass? Just complete strangers and just for one time? If I am understanding that, it is awesome. That would be so much fun to both participate in and watch. I wish things like that happened here because I would totally do it.

When I was in high school, if we were in band all four years, in the last year, we weren't allowed to just play. We also had to learn directing. And we had to go to a state competition where, as a director, we were given a major piece of music (I got the 1812 Overture), an unrehearsed orchestra made up of sophomores and juniors who also competed in other events and 1 hour to practice. Then we had to direct the piece in front of the judges and whoever got their orchestra together the best, won Best Director. It was a nightmare. But it was the most fun thing I've ever done (my orchestra lost horribly--but it was still fun.) I imagine the director of this event felt equally stressed and exhilarated by this experience.
Jun. 13th, 2012 05:05 pm (UTC)
So, what you are saying is that you and around 99 other people just showed up, unrehearsed, and sang straight through the mass? Just complete strangers and just for one time?

Yes. Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. The soloists, the director, and the pianist were the only people who had rehearsed for this event.

DIY choral events seem to be a thing in the Midwest, I guess. The Lyric Opera in Chicago and the Orpheum Theater in Madison both sponsor DIY singalongs of The Messiah in December, and the synagogue near my house used to do a DIY of Judas Maccabaeus before they got a new cantor who doesn't want to do that any more. The thing rhobike and I were at is apparently a regular June event at this church out in the burbs. Three Tuesday nights in June, they'll do big choral singalongs for whoever wants to show up.

Last week it was Mozart's Requiem, but I had a party to go to, but that's okay, because I sang that in college. Last night was the B Minor Mass (which was awesome, because that's a little more hardcore than the usual repertoire for an event like this). Next week is Carmina Burana, but I'll be out of town for that. There's always next year, though.
Jun. 13th, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
I have GOT to find something like that around here. That is super-cool!
Jun. 13th, 2012 05:13 pm (UTC)
And if there isn't one, start one!
Jun. 13th, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
You know, that is a good idea. I'm living back in the same city where I did my dissertation and my dissertation director's hobby (one of many) is singing madrigals. He still does that with the University of Kentucky. I bet I could get him to help me make the contacts to do that. And he would think it is the coolest idea ever, so he'd totally help and participate. Thanks, Pony. You can be very inspirational.
Jun. 13th, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Start out small, like a Messiah in December. I bet your dissertation director knows some choir people who'd love to form the core. Advertise it around town. Get some voice students from the university to sing the solos -- they're accessible even to college vocalists, I learned one when I was in college ("Behold, a virgin shall conceive/O thou, that tellest good tidings to Zion") -- get a local pianist to accompany. Have lots of fun, and then do it again.

Someday, I'll get to come visit, and I'd be thrilled to join in the alto section and sing along.
Jun. 13th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Also, if you google "do it yourself Messiah," you can learn all about the one in Chicago. It's a pretty cool event, and it's been going on for over thirty years now.
Jun. 13th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
It was awesome. It helped that there were quite a few people who had performed this piece together with this director in the past, maybe 20 or so of them. I was grateful for the more experienced singers holding me up and giving me a wonderful chance to do this.

Thanks fp for going with me!

Edited at 2012-06-13 07:13 pm (UTC)
Jun. 13th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
One of the great things about a big enough DIY is that it attracts people who already know and love the piece, so there's usually at least some people in each part who are a little familiar with it and aren't totally sight-reading it (hooray Symbolum Nicenum, Sanctus, Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, and Dona Nobis Pacem!). And now we've sung it. So the next time someone wants to try the most badass DIY ever . . . we can be the ones who guide people through bits!

Thanks for telling me about it!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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