April 16

Brahms’ Requiem a Success

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Well, the Brahms went off swimmingly; the audience seemed to love it, judging by their long ovation and multiple curtain calls. And Mike concurred. Many thanks to all who sent their good wishes.

Somehow, with the days of self-imposed vocal cord rest (which included doing the Ashlee Simpson and lip-synching the orchestra rehearsals Wednesday night, Friday night and Saturday afternoon) and the miracles of modern medicine–which included, a veritable witches’ brew of herbs, gallons of tea, dozens of lemons, vitamins, minerals, prescription and over-the-counter medications, taken orally, inhaled, snorted up my nose, and even shot (by my darling husband) into my gluteus maximus just before the Saturday night performance–I was able to hit about 90-95% of the notes required during the demanding seven movements.

Strangely, the high register came in pretty clearly, which was a good thing, since Herr Brahms wrote most of the soprano line at the top of the staff and above it. (Click here to go to the Amazon page for possibly the best recording of the piece with the legendary Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony and Orchestra and you can listen to samples and see what I mean.)

There were a few notes that simply weren’t reliably there for me, at least in their piano or pianissimo volumes and after the first couple of movements, the mid-staff D left me completely. When I would have to sing it, it was like hitting a piano key that’s dead; nothing whatever would come out.

And after the climactic and powerful VI movement, most of which happens for the soprano line way up there at the high F, G, A, and B region, all the notes down there below and including the aforementioned D (the C, B, A, and G going down on the staff) were often absent as well. The bottom of the staff (F and below) remained oddly intact.

Fortunately what came out came out nicely and when it didn’t, it was just the absence of sound, which in a chorus of 150 voice doesn’t disrupt things too much. Would have been a deal breaker for a soloist, though.

Sunday was a little better for me, though still not 100%. But at least I made it through and got the chance to be a part of an excellent performance of this monumental choral masterpiece.

I learned that I wasn’t alone in my misery; probably a dozen of us in the choir had various respiratory and throat maladies that made singing a challenge and worse yet, the SB Symphony’s wonderful new maestro, Nir Kaberetti, conducted Saturday night with a temp of 102 F. And he never missed a single cue. Except for slightly longer pauses between movements to mop his fevered brow and regain his breath, you’d never have known he was battling a bug. Amazing dedication to his work and to the audience.

Now that this milestone is behind me, it’s on to work on the Spring Concert repertoire, which is Haydn’s Theresienmesse (Mass in B) and Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, which the choir will also be taking on tour to Italy and Germany this summer, and which, when the time comes, Mike promises to blog about along the way to keep everybody in the loop, both about the performances and about the fabulous food and wine we encounter along the way.

The Choral Society, in addition to being the oldest continuing community performing arts group in the Santa Barbara area, currently in its 59th season, also has a mission of community service in music education. On this summer’s upcoming tour, we will be providing full and partial scholarships for approximately 20 deserving young singers, so that they may enrich their musical education through performance abroad. The total cost to do this to the society is about $80,000. We have spent this season raising the funds and are almost, but not quite, there. If any of you music lovers out there would care to contribute to the cause, you may do so by contacting the Choral Society through their website. Tell them MD sent you!

The Santa Barbara Choral Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and your donation (in any amount) is fully tax deductible and you will receive a written receipt. If you can help us fulfill this mission, please do so. And thanks!


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  1. I am a singer also and I lost my voice for Easter….WE havent done Brahms Requiem

    We have done Faure’s Requiem, the entire messiah and Beethoven’s Ninth in german among other things

    Eileen

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  It’s a bummer to lose your voice; I just hate it.  We did Beethoven’s 9th with the SB Symphony last season and the Messiah for our Christmas (Holiday) concert this past December.  In 3 weeks, we’ll do our Spring Concert, which will be Haydn’s Theresienmasse and the Morten Lauridsen Lux Aeterna, both wonderful pieces to sing and in their own ways–and different from the Brahms–demanding.

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