Here we go! Here we will do a quick overview before digging into each piece individually in the next few weeks. I’ll start by saying though that we finally for the first time in many years have a menu of music where everything looks delicious. It ticks so many boxes for what makes for a great audition piece, what kind of music stretches young singers, and what I personally would like to hear on a concert. We are just so excited about this repertoire.
Gloria, from Misa Criolla (Ramirez) – This piece is a departure from standard All State rep in the BEST way possible. First of all, Spanish pieces rarely make their way into the process, though we are unsure why. We look forward to the concert and hearing what kind of specialized soloist and accompanying instruments they find! Hopefully this isn’t too much of a challenge for individual Regions to perform on their Region Concerts. Sorry, folks, my bet is the soloist a pro, not a student!
Ich lasse dich nicht du segnest mich denn BWV Anh III 159 (Bach) – A few weeks ago (pre-baby) Austin and I were sitting around discussing All State music (like you do…) and wondering aloud at when we would get some Bach again. The last time was 2015 and that made for an epic battle at Area auditions. Well, be blessed, Bach is back! Though, you may see that this is designated for “any audition prior to Area” meaning probably a Region or Pre-Area audition. If I were you, I’d get started on this first! You may have to have it polished and ready in September!
I Will Lift My Eyes (Runestad) – What a gorgeous piece of music! This definitely fills that place we usually have in All State Repertoire for a modern, a capella mixed choir piece in English. What I really like about this in particular is that it is feels genuine and heartfelt instead of hokey or cookie-cutter in it’s style.
Schicksalslied with Full Orchestra (Brahms) – In contrast with Bach, Brahms comes up at All State frequently (2017, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2011….you get the picture.) BUT I’m not mad about it. In solo singing, I am always hesitant to assign Brahms because it’s just…big! But for a choral singer to feel that swell of support is super healthy (unlike some other classical/baroque music which encourages a squeaky “boychoir” sound…cough cough *Handel*).
Also, I do have a special love for the German language and think it does wonders for vocal production and shows the judges a skill that is difficult to learn yet attainable for every singer. It’s quite a long piece with many sections and I confess I’ve never performed it, so I’m really interested to see how this piece breaks down once I get teaching on it and can’t wait to write about it in a few months!
Misericordias Domini (Mozart) – Austin and I performed this magnificent work with Texas Bach Festival last summer and one of the first observations we made was that it would be an amazing All State area audition piece. Seriously, we are going to have to start recording these conversations so we can prove how psychic we are! Though…that might also prove how nerdy we are….nevermind!
In any case, here’s why we are obsessed with this choice. First, Mozart is like vocal yoga. a) anyone can do it, because Mozart designed his music to fit the voice like a glove, b) it stretches you and forces you to be your best self and it uses every skill, every muscle group, and everything you have, c) it just makes so much sense! Not like 1+1 = 2, but something more complicated that you need explained to you ( like biology or something) but once you learn it, you’re like “EUREKA! Why didn’t I know this all along?” Because who doesn’t have outbursts like that in choir?
Gott ist Mein Hirt-Psalm 23 (Schubert) – When I think of Schubert, I generally think of his solo songs or Lieder. So for me, this piece was a completely new concept but I just love the challenge of it for a Region audition, in the music, the technique, and the language. I would bet this will be a cut in the early rounds and will really lift out the well-prepared and technically savvy singers.
Flight Song (Arnesen) – This song may be familiar to many of you! Yes, it’s the same title as that Flight song from two years ago’s Mixed choir repertoire. Those of you who make the Treble choir this year will have the chance to perform this with the commissioner of the piece! It will be a wonderful way to get some extra insight on the composition process.
Ride On King Jesus (Hogan) – Austin and I get nostalgic sometimes for the early 2000’s of the All State process, because of course, this is when we were auditioning as students. But there was a trend back then that seemed to be on hold for a few years and is coming back now. That is the inclusion of a spiritual in the repertoire. And a quick search shows that this Hogan arrangement was performed by the All State Treble choir in 2002 and Mixed choir in 2006. We are so glad to see it come back because this is a really fun style of music to explore. Candidly, even in those days, the spiritual tended to be a “certified” piece that didn’t get auditioned, but was a favorite at camps and Region choir clinics.
That doesn’t mean that it’s without challenges! This style does help to diversify our toolbelts, so to say, encouraging good vocal technique but looser (dare I say, fun?) expression. It tends towards the outer reaches of everyones’ range, but lets you sing out in those places!
Laudi alla Vergine Maria (Verdi) – I have to admit, when I saw Verdi on the list my operatic heart skipped a beat. Ok, so maybe this isn’t a piece from an opera, but it is absolutely stunning…and quite difficult by the look of it! Though it is an a capella, sacred piece, I do think that the treble voices should be very comfortable singing with their full voices on this one, but in a way that really shows the shimmer of the voice and reigns in vibrato enough to make those harmonies snap into attention.
O Sacrum Convivium (Viadana) – By far the oldest piece on the repertoire list, we always love an old school chant, especially for the guys… I just picture them all as little monks in a stony chapel. It’s just something we all love to hear men’s voices do! This piece is very short but has two distinct sections which call on different styles. Great song to just chop in half for a Region audition, perhaps?
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho (Gibbs)
In keeping with our early 2000’s nostalgia, we show that a version of this was performed by the mixed choir in 2000, 2004, and 2010! However, this Gibbs version is new to the process. We expect the guys will have a lot of fun with it.
Ave Maria (arr. Himes) – So when I first listened to this recording, there was something that really made my ear confused. Then I figured out, I think, that it might be the same guy singing all four parts…. Anyway! This piece is as modern as they get with all those tight clusters we love, but occasionally hearkens back to the feel of a Gregorian chant, which makes sense given the text. I love that it allows the beauty of an individual voice shine but it will not be a place for soloistic interpretation or departure from pitch center. It also sounds like it’ll be a really healthy sing for the Tenors and Basses.
Gagot (Guillaume) – I have to say, I have a special love for Sydney Guillaume’s music, tracing back to my college choir performing a world premiere of his about 10 years ago. I will dig into this in a later post, and I can’t wait!
Suffice it to say, Guillaume’s pieces are always a party to learn and perform. If you were lucky enough to perform with the Mixed All State choir in 2017, you’ve sung one of his pieces before! The language can be difficult, as his language is Hatian Creole, not to be confused with straight-up French. Though this particular song is more of a traditional choral piece, in Guillaume’s writing he often uses a lot of percussive sounds and “nonsense” words which transform the choir into a full-on multi-instrumented band. The rhythms and articulation are always challenging but they make sense and you’ll settle into the patterns of it.
I love this performance video because the choir sounds amazing and are very engaged in their bodies. Also, you can read the translation as it plays!