I spent March working to further develop the choral composition - bringing together my musical ideas to create a more fully formed piece for the choir. At the end of March, I travelled back to Toronto to spend time with the Ground Floor Choir. We had a special workshop to learn the composition-in-progress, which is currently formed into a seven-minute choral piece. I have constructed the composition to be performed by four groups of singers. We had four guest artists present at the workshop to assist with learning the music, and to offer their expertise as soloists: Alex Samaras, Hussein Janmohamed, Maryem Tollar, and Sarah Albu. The combined sound of the choir and the guest artists singing together was marvelous!
Two significant factors have determined how I have proceeded shaping the music for this composition. First, while I am creating a musical score, the choir isn’t using sheet music to learn the piece. They are learning the composition the same way that they learn all their music, by ear. The only person who is looking at the musical score during rehearsals is the choir director, Shifra. As I have constructed the work, I have had to be mindful of the singers learning the piece without sheet music to refer to. Second, the choir does not have experience with singing works in four-part harmony, so I have had to seek creative ways to realize the texturally rich sound world that I desire for this piece. The solution to both of these challenges has been creating melodies that can be sung in rounds. In this manner, the choir can all learn the same musical materials, and then create interesting patterns, textures and harmonies by delaying entries and even fragmenting the common melody. The result is a full and rich sound that has been created with quite simple melodic ideas. I am excited to further develop these ideas as I continue to work on the composition.
The workshop was a lovely chance to re-connect with the choir, meet the guest artists, and make music together. Presently, I am back in Montana until June, while I work towards completing the composition. In May, I will send the composition off to Shifra and the choir, so that they may learn the final version of the piece in preparation for our performance in June.