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Waferballs's Journal

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Jul 27, 2008 - 07:21 AM
Eric Whitacre owes me three beers!
Journal lives!

I've just come back from Copenhagen were the 2008 World Symposium on Choral Music was held. The city was brimming with top international choirs, composers and conductors and I've heard some fantastic concerts, but perhaps most exciting was the concert I took part in myself, with my choir Schola Cantorum Oslo.

On our first concert 6 of the 8 composers featured on our program was in the audience, something we did not know about beforehand. Internationally renowned composers of choral music like Karin Rehnquist, Jaako Mäntyjärvi and Eric Whitacre! After singing the Mäntyjärvi pieces someone informed our conductor that the composer was in the audience. Before each of the next pieces the conductor would ask if the composer was present, and someone would raise their hand in acknowledgement. When it was time for the last number, "Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine" and the composer Eric Whitacre stood up on the balcony, things were just surreal. Everyone was really pleased with our performance though. Mr. Whitacre sought us out after the concert, kissed the conductor on both cheeks and said it was a stunning performance, and a fabulous sound in the choir. And he wanted to buy us all three beers

In fact, the responses to our concerts have been overwhelming. There were quite a lot of people on our two evening concerts even though there were 9 other top professional choirs to choose from. People say we've managed to reach and move the audience, that we sing with technical perfection and everyone is astounded when they learn that none of us are professional singers.

This kind of feedback is very important to me, because it confirms the belief I have in our choir and in communicating music. Choral music can be especially vulnerable for many reasons. The focus can often be on technical issues like intonation and sound, they often sing with the music in hand, and too often there is distance between the audience and the performers (not distance in space but distance in involvement and energy). Many choirs try to bridge this distance by adding effects like choreographed movement, dances and rhythms, which often only makes the music more hollow. As a result, choral music and choir concerts are often boring.

How music is communicated is of course controlled in some degree by the repertoire itself, but the interpretation, the commitment from the singers and the always overhanging intention of letting the audience take part in something special is so important, I think. The music itself is always the gift, the sound quality and appearance is of course there, but secondary.

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Jan 14, 2008 - 07:23 PM
Semi-related to previous entry
So, a girl I've kind of had an eye towards for a few months is quite possibly a lesbian. I might need to have this confirmed, but I should have been prepared. Nothing I take an interest in will ever last, it is law.

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Jan 12, 2008 - 08:04 PM
I've lost too many great girls to other guys
It's true

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Oct 17, 2007 - 04:18 PM
OMG Journal entry
I feel kind of guilty for neglecting this place. Since school started I've had next to no time for internet - I'm working part-time, singing in choir (more about that later) and studying at the Norwegian Academy of Music.

Studies are awesome. After 4 years of music studies that really focuses on technique and musicianship, evolving these personal qualities - it feels nice to start a study that seems more practically focused, preparing me for the real world so to speak. I'm learning how to sight read better, how to learn repertoire faster, how to arrange/simplify/"fix" badly written accompaniment and establishing valuable contacts. A good accompanist is sought after, and I'm finding more and more work.

I'm doing a lot of vocal accompanying, and this is what I'll be specializing in in my last year. I'm already thinking of doing a Schubert lied cycle for my graduate recital next year, possibly Winterreise. For now, I'm mixing vocal work with chamber music, and I'm planning to perform Brahms' clarinet sonata no 2 in January. Kapustin's trio might be on the horizon as well, but I'll have to see how much time I'll have. At the moment I'm preparing a recital with two Latvian singers for the end of October. The program consists of Latvian and Russian vocal music. (Rachmaninov songs ftw!)

Choir is also a bigger part of my musical life these days. I've been a choral singer on and off for about 6 years, and this autumn I joined the chamber choir Schola Cantorum, which is a mixed choir affiliated with Oslo University. The choir really holds the highest international quality, but they're also a damn fine bunch of people, and rehearsals are always fun and rewarding. This weekend we traveled to Wuppertal in Germany to compete in the international competition "Let the Peoples Sing" and went home with not only first place in our class (competing against a.o EMO Ensemble from Finland and Phoenix Chamber Choir from Canada), but also won the "Silver Rose Bowl" as the best choir in the whole competition.

Recordings from the radio broadcast here:

Eric Whitacre - Water night (feat. Schola Cantorum)
Francis Poulenc - La blanche neige (feat. Schola Cantorum)
Jaakko Mäntyjärvi - Double, double, toil and trouble (feat. Schola Cantorum)

If you like choral music, check them out! They're not perfect (we did a better dress rehearsal I think), but good enough to win the competition!

Oh yeah, regarding last entry - We decided not to do the Play! Symphony after all - the pay wasn't good enough The concert is next week, I might go and listen.

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Jul 30, 2007 - 07:58 AM
Holy fucking shit
Turns out the choir I've just joined is set to perform with the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra in Play! A Video Game Symphony this October!

What kinda sucks is I'm not sure I'll get to enjoy the whole concert since choir is probably not featured in all the pieces. Then again, I'll be singing Liberi Fatali with full orchestra and chorus.


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Jul 17, 2007 - 06:09 PM
Vacation time (sup GFF)
I've just returned from a short tour south in Norway. I was hired in to do the piano part in an ensemble accompanying a choir. The piece was fairly new and was conducted by the composer (both composer and choir were swedish). It was an interesting experience working closely with both a larger ensemble than I'm used to (string quartet, double-bass, organ and clarinet, plus me) and working with a composer. The music wasn't the most inspiring I've heard. It tried to go out on a limb harmonically on occasion, but really didn't get daring or exciting any time. And for all the pretty easy-listening stuff, it was too much of the same all the time. Still, it shined on a few spots, and it was worth while both in terms of pay, and the work connections.

Funny thing was the piece they opened with. It was a brand new piece by a female composer. She traveled with them and accompanied on the piano. It was some kind of theatrical-based thing, with a lead singer reciting a letter and incorporating both negro spirituals and some odd bits from the choir and piano. It was a good idea, but sounded very unfinished, and more like a sketch than anything else.

I also did a noon recital with the violinist I played with a couple of months ago. We did the same program with Elgar and Walton.

Now, nothing major is on the agenda. I've ordered some music and hope to start practicing some new stuff - and I'm going to London for next weekend. It'll be cool to just take it easy for a while.

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Jul 5, 2007 - 04:46 AM
An apology
I haven't spent alot of time around here lately. Summer has been hectic so far, I'll sum up the major events.

- I had a recital in Trondheim with a violinist in the middle of May (see last entry)
- I accompanied a singer's exam in the beginning of June, and shortly thereafter, two clarinetists' exams.
- I moved to Oslo just over two weeks ago, and started a summer job at Aberdeen Property Investors. Here I move around important documents and see that they are archived properly.
- While doing this non-musical job, I'm also preparing for a three-day concert tour with a middle-size ensemble next week.

All this leaves me exhausted, and I have little time for GFF activites. I'd like to offer my apologies to the Concert Hall and especially Face for not being around much. I pop in now and then and see that things are running smoothly. The Recording and Sheet Music sharing is going about their usual business, and I guess pressing moderation work is not a big concern. However, the Concert Hall seems a bit stale at the moment. Nothing new is happening, it seems kind of stuck in a rut - and as a moderator, I feel an obligation to do something about it.

I'd like to spend more time and be more creative with the community, but real life is demanding too much from me right now. I haven't seen Face much around IRC or MSN the times I've been on - I'm guessing he's busy too. Summer is often a demanding time for musicians. Face, if you read this, I hope we can chat and maybe get some new ideas for the Concert Hall this fall.

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May 20, 2007 - 05:25 PM
Happy Birthday Norway (massive hueg pics)
17 of May is the National Day of Norway - the Norwegian Constitution Day - and this year I had the pleasure of spending the day in Trondheim, one of the larger cities in Norway (which is not saying much compared to international standards). I was in town because I had a recital a few days later.

The Constitution Day is famous for their parades. No military parade that you might find elsewhere, but children's parades and citizen's parades all mixed up with local school bands, professional bands and anything else that makes noise really A lot of people dress up in our national costume, the bunad, and we wave the flag around and eat ice cream and hot dogs. It's pretty darn cool.

I took some pictures

lots of people watching the parade
a school band is marching
my friend Hannah in a bunad from the south of Norway
Hannah and Margrete in traditional costumes, at a breakfast party
lots of flags in the parade
even Sonic wants part of the action!
enjoying a coffee
If you want more pictures of celebration try this.

I also recorded the entire recital we had (with Hannah, from the pictures) in my thread, but here's a sample for you guys:

Get the Flash Player to play this audio file: Edward Elgar - Salut d'Amour for violin and piano

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May 11, 2007 - 05:23 PM
So yeah, regarding the job-issue mentioned a few months back - that didn't happen. Some misunderstanding blah blah.

I've finished my job designing the hotel-brochure (which incidentally you can download here), and I've been mostly practicing for a recital that's coming up next saturday. 8 cute little Elgar pieces for violin and piano, and the Walton Violin Sonata. Fun stuff. I'll get it recorded and posted methinks. Right after that there's practicing sessions with a singer before a new recital/exam 4th of June. AND if that wasn't enough, there's a clarinetist that needs accompanying the week after that - so I'll have to find time to learn one of the Brahms Sonatas (can't remember which one right now).

There's a job opening as accompanist at one of the private conservatories in Oslo. I might apply just for the experience, but there's no way I'll get it. Don't know how it would fit with studying this fall either. Speaking of which, I can't wait! I just paid the deposit for a small flat nearby and all is set for me taking Oslo by storm come August

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Apr 19, 2007 - 12:41 PM
Holy Crap
Today has just been a bundle of joy.

First I hear that a girl that I'm semi-interested in spent the night with some random dude at a party last night. No big deal, really - but kind of irksome nonetheless. Then a few minutes later, my "ex", whom I haven't heard from since August, responds to an email and tells me she got married in December! That's about half a year after we split up.

God in heavens. I'm over the girl, but still. Makes me feel kind of foolish since she obviously was into the guy even when we were together. Our relationship was short and sweet, but I haven't had much luck with women, and she was the only "real thing" I've experienced.

So yeah, my friends are sleeping around, my ex is getting married, and I'm stuck at home doing database management and practicing. Fuck.

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