Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Open Thread

Claudio Monteverdi

I sang this as a boy. This section is a small part of a 40-50 minute work for 8 part vocal, four solo voices, and orchestra.

This particular Monteverdi Magnificat (he wrote more than one) is THE most beautiful piece of long-form choral music I have sung. I cherish every precious memory of our rehearsals, our major performances in the Music Center, and the performances before smaller (500 person) groups.

The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus (I was in the Touring Group 72-73) performed the Monteverdi in joint concert with the Tucson Symphony, special guests St. Philips in the Hills Mens Chorus (the Monteverdi) and the Tucson Opera Chorus (the Orff) in front of thousands of people several nights in a row (full houses and standing ovations every night) in the Tucson Music Center. The Monteverdi was the opening number for the first half. We did Carl Orff's Carmina Burana for the second half.

I was already turning bad by this point. (I was thirteen with a stunning first alto choral voice.) We spent 90 days on the road that winter/spring, performing in four countries and 30-35 states, including the U.S. Capital, Queen Elizabeth Hall, plus recording and filming specials for both CBS and the BBC.

We returned from Touring May 18. My voice changed literally the same day. It had been breaking for days. My birthday was two days later, and that was that. I graduated from the Choir a month later and was done. I went bad within weeks as my only remaining social control was gone (other than church, which really only existed as a place to get laid.) I didn't start to get better for years, after I was already in the Army.

The Monteverdi is one of the pieces of music which stuck with me all the way through the ugly years, through the Army, and remains with me decades later. This performance isn't near the best section, but it's such an obscure work of Monteverdi that I can't find a performance any place.

I have a full score (choral version only, plus rehearsal piano) on the bookshelf not five feet from my bed. Sometimes I take it down and sing the first alto part. Baritone. Or second tenor. Whatever strikes my fancy.

  • What MUSIC do you love so deeply it calls to you across the years?
  • What instrument are you musically?
  • Which composer clearly was inspired by the Gods?
  • What is your favorite hymn or church music ever?
  • And as always, weather, food, family?
  • It's Christmas Eve... what are you doing?
  • How is Santa doing?
  • Your favorite gifts?