Gloria II: Laudamus Te
Movement 2 of the Poulenc Gloria, “Laudamus Te” is definitely in the running for the fan favorite piece this year. Almost every student I’ve talked to said they felt like they knew it the best of all of the songs after camp, so I excitedly say “Okay! Let’s do this!” and hit play on the piano track.
*Cue Screeching tires and glass breaking* Crash. and. Burn.
Here’s where we run into our biggest oxymoron of the audition process, and a very important idea to grasp throughout… You are auditioning to sing in a choir by singing a solo audition. It’s a completely contrived process, and lots of things are strange and arbitrary.
Here’s what I’m getting at. After our epic fail above, almost always what I hear out of Suzy Soprano’s mouth is: “Oh! At camp they just told me to listen to the Altos for my cue/note/etc.!”
Dear Suzy, YOU ARE ALONE IN THE ROOM. There will be no altos and no conductor to help you. Unfortunately, sometimes at camp those dear choir directors who are leading sectionals or full rehearsals are teaching like choir directors, the best way they know. And OF COURSE if you were preparing to perform this piece, the quickest way to get your pitch is to listen to another section. But you aren’t preparing to sing the piece, you’re preparing to audition it. Big difference.
So, in closing. If your camp was more concerned with teaching you how to sing in a choir, and slap music together well enough for the big performance at the end of the camp, then they did you a big disservice. Save yourself the anxiety attack that inevitably happens after this crash and burn and start telling yourself now, there will be a slump when you move to the piano tracks….out there in the cold. You will come back from camp feeling euphoric and confident, but dear Suzy, you have been relying on your friends and your conductor more than you can even fathom. There will be a slump, and you will work through it and persevere.
So what does this have to do with Laudamus Te? This song is the most quintessential example of the need to learn all of the other parts as if they are your own because the whole thing is just a big back-and-forth conversation between parts. Since Abigail Alto isn’t next to you singing in your ear, you need to learn her part. and yours. That’s all I’ll harp on this issue, but don’t mistake brevity for un-importance. Nothing could be more important in this song!
I know you’ve already done all of your highlights and counting. You may have also continued with some of the ideas from our post on Movement 1 and started paying attention to the teeny-tiny rests. Good on you. One addition to this is that often you say “te” right before a tiny rest and in your haste to get off the note, you may chew the vowel a bit, making it sound like a good ol’ American “TAY”. *Cringe*. Leave your mouth open and stop the sound with your breath!
Other common issues:
Sopranos and Tenors: You’re on deck for the first entrance this time around. Learn that intro like the back of your hand. Count, and listen, and breathe early! (Rinse and Repeat at Reh. 22)
Sopranos and Tenors again: Whenever you are resting and then singing “Laudamus te”, beginning on the final 8th note of a measure (see Reh 17) if often changes meter. Pay VERY close attention, know if you’re singing on the & of 3 or the & of 4! DANGER abounds when the meter changes from 4/4 to 3/4 and you have to sing on the last beat. Keep your eyes peeled.
EVERYONE: Whenever you sing a dotted quarter followed by a string of 8th notes (see Reh 14 in the Sopranos), shorten the dotted note ever so slightly so that you can attack the 8th notes without dragging.
EVERYONE: If you have a note ending in an “s”, please be very careful putting it on the rest. Personally, I like my “s” preceded by a sliver of silence, just to show how precise it can be. ie: “Be-ne-di-ci-muˆs”.
Sopranos at Reh. 16 – be SO careful with that big jump to the Eb. I know, it’s confusing, you’re below the Altos…
Sopranos at the top of Pg. 9 – WAIT! on measure 2 for the Altos.
Basses at bottom of Pg. 7 – No breath between -a of Gloria and Be- of Benedicimus. You do not have time. Lift, don’t inhale, and anticipate your next entrance!
Basses on Pg. 11 – Careful of making a clear difference between the “tuam” in the first and second systems. The second time is an ascending/descending octave leap, the first is an ascending octave leap, followed by a descending 7th.
EVERYONE: In the “Propter Magnam” section there needs to be a delicate balance between final consonants and eighth rests. Don’t feel the need to breathe (inhale) on every teensy rest. You don’t need to and it may actually disrupt your vocal line. Trust the consonant to be enough to show the rest, following this formula:
- If the word ending in an “m” is followed by an eighth rest after which you immediately have to sing, close to a brief “hum” on the m, lift without breathing, and keep singing. No big “MUH” sound here.
- If the word ending in an “m” is followed by a rest longer than an 8th note, then do an m with a shadow vowel “-muh” and a crisp cut off.
ie: Altos/Tenors/Basses at the top of pg. 11: “Glo-ri-ammˆtu-amUH”
Alrighty, you know what to do! Get practicing!