Ave Generosa

Hello ladies! We’re back to talk about your other Treble piece for non-Area auditions. Ave Generosa may be my most favorite piece this year for several reasons.

First, as we discussed before, the text is ancient and the style mimics the medieval period in which it was written…however, there are certain elements, such as the texture and harmonies which give it away as the modern piece it actually is. I love this mash up of styles.

Second, it really lets you sing. I believe that you can take the ancient style and sing with a head-voice dominant, sparkly and “hooty” sound, but with the full, healthy vocalism of art song.

Third, I really do like to hear some vibrato on this song, because the resulting sound is “womanly”, not “girly.” It is full, and lush, and should wrap you up like a hug when all of those crunchy dissonances finally resolve.

Preparing your score

Just in case we haven’t talked about this enough already (hint: we probably have), I’ll reiterate a few song-specific things to remember.

  1. When highlighting your score, note that there is a solo that comes in and out, changing where your vocal line might be on the page. I’ve already had several people mistakenly highlight the wrong line because the missed this detail!
  2. This song splits into 8 parts, so check the vocal notes to see which note you should be learning. You will hear both on your practice track.
  3. Regarding pronunciation, there had been some speculation before the practice tracks came out that we may be using “Germanic” Latin pronunciation as opposed to the “Italianate” or “Ecclesiastical” Latin that Americans are more used to. As it turns out, on the tracks they are using the Italianate Latin that Americans sing in the majority of the time. Since, at this moment, the vocal notes online have been silent on this issue and there is no separate pronunciation guide, I recommend doing what is on the track instead of what you or your teachers may feel it “should” be or whatever you hear on other recordings.

Marking Breaths and Cut-offs

  • In sections with the words “Ave Generosa”, it makes grammatical sense to breathe at commas and before the word “et”. I would recommend almost always breathing before the word “puella.” You can tell this word was important to the composer because he almost always set it with lots of moving notes over several measures.
  • On the sections with the words “tu pupilla”, the best plan would be to breathe every four measures, though, breathing every two is a solid back up plan.
    • Be careful with the ending ‘s’ on “castitatis” and “sanctitatis”. In a choir, this will be a place that conductors listen for everyone to say ‘s’ together. In your audition, since you are alone, you will just want to be purposeful and clear with your ‘s’ to show the judges that you are careful about that cut off and aware of its’ importance. Depending on what the final note of the word is, you will want to shorten the note and place a rest on which you will cut off the ‘s’ and breathe. Half notes could be shortened to a quarter note and followed by a quarter rest. Quarter notes could be shortened to an eighth note and followed by an eighth rest. (Stay flexible, but don’t fret about cutting off with the other vocal parts if you have one rhythm and the other parts have another….at least for your audition.)
  • The song is not too slow, but just slow enough that you will want to have backup breaths marked (I like to put a check mark in parenthesis) in case you run out of air. You may not take every breath that you mark, but lift instead to help show the sentence structure. Then, in the heat of battle, so to say, if you’re nervous you already have given yourself permission to breathe there. Now is the time to go for the longest phrase and see if you can grow stronger in your practice. But don’t get too comfortable with that! A week or two before your audition go back and rehearse your “worst-case-scenario” breaths so you can practice how it might feel if you need to breathe more often.
  • Finally, I know some of you cannot, due to the writing of your part, avoid breathing after a comma, on a bar line, after an eighth note, with no rest. It’s the literal worst… but please don’t be afraid, believe in yourself and I know you can do it with grace!


Regarding phrasing, a good place to start is the word stress. Start out by speaking the text so that you can internalize the rhythm of the language. Find the most important syllable in a word and crescendo to that, then decrescendo away from it.

Ave generosa gloriosa et intacta
puella, tu pupilla castitatis,
tu materia sanctitatis,
que Deo placuit.

Within one phrase, (meaning, the space between two breaths,) there may be many peaks and valleys, but to avoid making the judges seasick with all the give and take, identify the very most important syllable of all the important syllables and make sure that is the true peak of a crescendo. Remember, stressed syllables mean NOTHING if they are not followed by unstressed syllables!

As always, I encourage you to make your own dynamics if there isn’t something specific marked….and even add some more if the spirit moves you. As a judge, I’m looking for someone who can really immerse themselves in a phrase and show us their whole voice!

Happy practicing!


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