In range of styles we went from Palestrina's "Super Flumina Babilonis"--which is High Renaissance, for those who aren't musical historians--to William Walton's aggressively modern "Antiphon." Also sung: Chatman's pleasant arrangement of "Be Thou My Vision" (old Irish hymn) and Mendelssohn's "He, Watching Over Israel."
David has us do a lot of count-singing (you sing the correct count, on pitch, just as if singing the piece. It's a good teaching tool for those of us who aren't good sight-readers. That would include me...) We are supposed to match vowels on the counts just as if they were text-words...no sloppy pronunciations allowed. He hears everything...every slip, every scoop, every flatted or sharped note, every error of intonation, every failure to follow the dynamics or "be musical."
What makes the rehearsals great is this very intensity of attention, his determination to help us perfect the music, let the music be all it can be....adapting our way of singing to the different styles, learning to hear each other better and better so we *can* blend...and also his very unusual abillity to give precise feedback on good things as well as bad, *immediately.* He's so full of enthusiasm...of playfulness...and yet with no wiggle-room on the music itself.
Tonight, after we'd worked on the Palestrina, with its clean but tricky lines awhile (finally being able to do a reasonably good job--not yet the job he'll get us to do) we moved to the Chatman, superficially simple. Simple, unless you want to sing it *perfectly*. After some work on it, section by section, he had the choir sing it a capella (and it's not an a capella arrangement) and then, a capella without direction. except for the opening count and help with the ritard at the end. I don't remember another time he's asked for that. It's...a challenge. But we did it.
Then came my favorite for the night--the Mendelssohn. I've sung it in other choirs, one that could have been as good as this one had David been its director (and was pretty darn good even so), but never the level we reached tonight (and I can tell by David's face that we still have some way to go.)
The Walton...I don't like it. But I respect it. And tonight I finally nailed the two annoying G-sharps that clash so horribly with the notes around them, but are, nonetheless, the notes I have to sing. (My brain wants to harmonize, so it was dropping them to a G-natural.)
A good rehearsal.