Encores & Curtain Calls: Opportunities worthy of grasping
My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation: Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing; It finds an echo in my soul— How can I keep from singing?
— Robert Lowry
Alas, it seems I’ve begun seeing yellow, orange and red spots before my eyes — but that, upon further inspection, spots which are no mere hallucination: they are, instead, the scattered outcroppings of autumnal leaves impatient to do their thing, harbingers of the fall soon to mark our summer’s farewell.
Despite our best attempts at self-delusion and denial, such has it always been, the reckless luxuriance and warmth of June and July sobered by the unpredictable vagaries of August; true, sometimes to be redeemed by the gift of a fortnight of Indian summer but with no guarantees even there.
Which means, like someone who has been told they only have so long left to live, we must make the most of the opportunities we have at hand.
Let’s peruse a few of them:
Is it time for your voice to come out of the closet?
If you’ve been meaning to turn a new leaf, no pun intended, by risking singing in a regional performing group, the last ship hasn’t left the port yet: The Pioneer Valley Symphony Chorus will hold an open rehearsal for all interested singers, Aug. 19, at 7:30 p.m., at the Most Holy Redeemer Parish Hall, 122 Russell St., Hadley. This is the new rehearsal location for the PVS Chorus and the same location as the Summer Sings. No reservation is necessary, simply come and sing through some of the PVS Chorus’ repertoire for the season. All voice classifications are welcome.
The chorus will have three performances in the coming season: a dedicated PVS Chorus concert in November, the annual PVS Family Holiday Concert in December, a semi-staged performance of Cavalleria rusticana in May, which, in conductor Jonathan Harvey’s view, is a gorgeous, romantic, one-act opera with lots of great choral music in it.
For those with even deeper interest, the PVS has an a cappella Chamber Choir, drawn from members of the chorus, in which you’ll learn even more music and have more opportunities to perform during the season.
And for those who can’t make the gig, no problem! Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the PVS office at 413-773-3664, to schedule an informal placement hearing. (It’s not an audition, just a way to make sure you’re in the right voice part.)”
So, all told, the gentlemanly Harvey and his organization have endeavored to make this always slightly daunting process as user-friendly as possible (It rather reminds me of the “Painless Dentist,” to whom Abbott and Costello go for the latter’s tooth extraction; greeting them with a magnanimous smile, the good doctor beams, “How do you do, I’m Dr. Feelgood, I’m painless!” to which the moribund, be-bandaged Costello responds “I’m not!”)
Even if one is not filled with ironclad confidence about his or her vocal merits — and who is? Even conservatory-trained divas and deities routinely retreat into angst about the perilous liabilities in their apparatus and technique — isn’t it more fun to court such angst and make one’s inevitable mistakes in the company of other similarly vulnerable mortals? As an added fringe-benefit, they will be there covering one’s blunders with their esprit de corps, for seldom is it the case that an entire section of sopranos or basses will plunge off the cliff together in one fell swoop.
Why not give it a try? At the very worst, if you’re welcomed in and find yourself a deer-in-the-headlights at your first no-holds-barred performance, you can lip-synch your way through the entire program without so much as a single soul ever knowing it!
And at the best? Well, there’s a reason that, harps aside, all those who’ve made it into the celestial realms agree, “How can I keep from singing?’
There remain three more installments of the Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Concerts Series, the first of which, a songfest with Lisa Woods, Teri LaFleur and accompanist Jerry Noble on Aug. 17 at 3 p.m., was previewed here in last week’s feature and for which I would hereby like to make correction, with attendant apologies, to Ms. LaFleur for misspelling her name a dozen or so times.
The following weekend, Aug. 24, brings the ever-enjoyable Pioneer Consort, a confabulation of many instruments and genres, chief among them cello under the skilled hands of Greg Snedeker, banjar played by group-leader Michael Nix and fiddle ingeniously wangled by Chris Devine, a man-for-all-instruments with a decided passion for performing and connecting with an audience.
If you haven’t seen them, by all means do as both the group’s enthusiasm and good spirits make for a seamlessly enjoyable musicale, not to mention a world-tour of sorts.
Finally, on Aug. 31, there is the return of the top-notch, rock-solid classical violin-piano team the Valtchev-Tcheratova Duo, which, shall we say, “don’t mess around” and gets to the deep water quickly.
The best $10 (or even $5) deal in the Pioneer Valley.
Beyond the box of the Pioneer Valley, it’s also a lovely time to court the poignancy of late summer and indulge a jaunt to the Berkshires and Tanglewood, whose rich, star-studded season continues — this evening with world-class soprano Frederica von Stade and a bevy of other state-of-the-art operatic soloists, under the direction of Nicholas McGegan and tomorrow evening with pianist Emmanuel Ax presenting Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 under the direction of conductor Stephane Deneve, who will also be offering Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky.”
The weekend brings a rare performance of Bernstein’s masterful “Candide,” a hybrid musical stage work based in operetta and bordering upon Broadway, with libretto by Lillian Hellman, under the direction of Bramwell Tovey, at 8:30 p.m. in the Shed. Meanwhile, prior to that, in the auxiliary Ozawa Hall performance space, works by Shubert and Erich Wolfgang Korngold will be on show at 6 p.m.
And Sunday’s fare is, if anything, even more sumptuous: Stravinsky’s luminous and complete “Firebird,” his lesser-known “Scherzo Fantastique” and Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, only perhaps slightly less-ecstatically beloved than his second but, if anything, full of even more complex and ingenious musical riches, at 2:30 p.m. in the Shed.
And look at Aug. 22!: It’s “The Wizard of Oz with Orchestra.” Yes, MGM has remastered this timeless classic and in this version, produced by John Goberman, the images are accompanied by the Boston Pops playing new transcriptions of Harold Arlen’s lost scores. Promoters tell us that hearing Judy Garland’s original 1939 vocals backed by live orchestration “will transport children and adults alike” and that “Moviegoers will be treated to the Oscar-winning film as it has never been experienced before.”
There are 49 other states in the Union without the miracle and majesty of a Tanglewood, glowing like a jewel, just 75 minutes away. If any of us really think we have a real excuse for not being there at least once in our journey on this earth, we may wish we had thought again. We can pretend we live in an out-of-the-way small town but, in truth, we live in a global landscape.
Check out the entire bill of fare at www.bso.org.
And as for those mysterious, multi-colored spots, aren’t they, after all, still delightful?
An author and composer, columnist Joseph Marcello of Northfield focuses on music and theater. He can be reached at email@example.com.