Viadana’s O Sacrum Convivium, written in the 16th century, is the oldest region piece this year. Early music (baroque) style is encouraged. Characteristics of this style that judges might be expecting are straight-tone or a clear, focused vibrato, tapered (decrescendi) phrases, and deliberate but graceful word-stress.

Our official copy for auditions came in the mail just a few days ago. If you do not have your official music yet, you can download the public domain version here. Here are my first impressions:

Music Markings

There are a significantly more musical markings than I think the 16th century Viadana would include in his original score (markings in baroque music are mostly suggestions made later on by the editor). All of these markings seem to encourage the style of singing described above. This piece doesn’t have a lot of challenges in the way of notes and rhythms, so start incorporating the other notations immediately. This will also help with phrase shape and style.

Tempo

Be aware of the varying tempo markings beginning with each major section, and use a metronome for now until we get the practice tracks. Watch out for the meter change in measure 20 to 3/2, which should feel dance-like with the stress on beat 1. The meter then resumes to an alla breve (cut time) in 2, similar to the beginning.

Breaths

Breath marks/lifts are helpful and are marked with a small vertical line on the staff in between phrases. Otherwise, breathe on the rests or in a place that does not interrupt a long phrase. Careful not to release the ends of phrases abruptly, as this might serve to stress an unstressed syllable. Anticipate the lifts with a decrescendo and keep in mind that a breath is not necessary in every case and a lift may be sufficient.

Dynamics

There are lots of dynamic marks as well, often requiring big contrasts. Make music with these dynamics NOW (even on solfege), and remember never to sing too soft on the piano-marked dynamics. This is a solo audition after all and we want to feel like we can clearly see you behind the screen. Most decrescendi marked at the end of the phrase will happen naturally as you will be running low on air. Try your best not to overdo this stylistic marking and sing too soft.

Recommended Learning Process

  1. Start by writing in all solfege (This will not take long and should be straight forward).
  2. Chant solfege in rhythm, keeping in mind the tempo changes (feel in 4).
  3. Sing solfege in rhythm (feel in 4).
  4. Sing solfege in rhythm (feel in 2).
  5. Sing on neutral syllable (vah, veh, etc).
  6. Speak words then chant words in rhythm.
  7. Sing words (feel in 2)

Happy Practicing!

Austin