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The evolution of choral sound: in professional choirs from the 1970s to the twenty-first century

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Imitation is the genesis of change. One basic principle of human nature is that people imitate what they see and hear. In the professional choral arena, musicians extend the high art of imitation through fine-tuning, and creative reinterpretation. Stimulated by

Imitation is the genesis of change. One basic principle of human nature is that people imitate what they see and hear. In the professional choral arena, musicians extend the high art of imitation through fine-tuning, and creative reinterpretation. Stimulated by this cycle, the color of the twenty-first-century professional choir shifted compared to that of professional choirs from the 1950s through 1970s, causing an evolution in choral sound. In a series of interviews with iconic composers and conductors of professional choirs, the subjects involved in the study conveyed comprehensive and personal accounts outlining how professional choirs have refined the standard of choral sound. The paper is organized into three sections: (1) where have we been, (2) where are we now and (3) where are we going? It explores various conductors' perceptions of how and why choirs are unique when compared to earlier generations and what they believe caused the shift in choral tone. Paired with this perspective is the role of modern composers, whose progressive compositional techniques helped shape the modern choral sound. The subjects involved in the study further theorize how current inclinations may potentially shape the future of professional choral music. Although the subjects expressed differing opinions about the quality of the twenty-first-century choral tone, many agree that there have been specific transformations since the 1970s. The shift in choral tone occurred due to developments in vocal technique, exploration of contemporary compositional extended techniques, an adherence to historically informed performance practice, imitation of vocal colors from numerous cultures, incorporation of technology and emulation of sound perceived on recordings. Additionally, choral music subtly became prominent in film scores, and innovative conductors created progressive concert programming, and developed novel approaches to entertain audiences. Samplings of contributors involved in this study include: John Rutter, Harry Christophers, Charles Bruffy, Nigel Short, Craig Hella Johnson, Alice Parker, Michael McGlynn, Phillip Brunelle, Craig Jessop, Libby Larsen, Ola Gjeilo, Cecilia McDowall, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi and Stephen Paulus.

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Date Created
2013

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Make haste slowly: Jerold D. Ottley's tenure with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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Dr. Jerold D. Ottley's twenty-five years leading the Mormon Tabernacle Choir resulted in many distinguished awards and recognitions for the ensemble. Included among these are two Platinum and three Gold records from the Recording Industry Association of America, an Emmy

Dr. Jerold D. Ottley's twenty-five years leading the Mormon Tabernacle Choir resulted in many distinguished awards and recognitions for the ensemble. Included among these are two Platinum and three Gold records from the Recording Industry Association of America, an Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and two Freedom Foundation Awards for service to the country. He conducted the Choir at two presidential inaugurations, Ronald Reagan's in 1981 and George H. W. Bush's in 1989, as well as performances at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Gala. He presided over eleven international tours to twenty-six countries and crisscrossed the United States for engagements in nearly every region of the country. Despite the awards, commendations, and increased recognition of the Choir, Ottley's greatest contributions were largely internal to the organization. Jerold Ottley is a skilled music educator, administrator, and emissary. Application of these proficiencies while at the helm of the Choir, led to what are, arguably, his three largest contributions: 1) as educator, he instituted in-service training for choir members, raising the level of their individual musicianship, thereby improving the technical level of the entire Choir; 2) as administrator, Ottley created policies and procedures that resulted in a more disciplined, refined ensemble; and 3) as emissary, he raised the ensemble's reputation among the general public and with music professionals. For the general public, he significantly broadened the Choir's repertoire and traveled frequently thereby reaching a wider audience. He secured greater respect among music professionals by inviting many of them to work directly with the Choir. The results were unparalleled. Ottley's twenty-five year tenure with the Choir is reflected in broader audiences, increased professional acceptance, added organizational discipline, and unprecedented musical proficiency. It is a notable legacy for a man who reportedly never felt comfortable as director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

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Date Created
2011

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A history of the first fifty years of the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix

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ABSTRACT The Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix occupies and maintains an historical place in the musical and civic history of the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona. Organized in November, 1929, the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix (OMC)

ABSTRACT The Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix occupies and maintains an historical place in the musical and civic history of the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona. Organized in November, 1929, the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix (OMC) is the only performing arts organization in Phoenix that can claim eighty-one years of continuous performance. The chorus gained popularity locally, nationally, and internationally in its first five decades. The breadth of the chorus's recognition began to decline in the latter part of the 20th century, but the chorus still retains a loyal following of audience members. This study focuses on the first fifty years of the OMC, especially the period from 1946 to 1979, the years the chorus was under the direction of Ralph Hess. Through his leadership the group's popularity and recognition reached a peak, thanks largely to his emphasis on civic responsibility, ties to service organizations, and musical ability and showmanship. No scholarly publications exist regarding this organization. Several boxes of memorabilia housed in the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe, Arizona, serve as the primary source of material for this study. Concert programs supply information about concert repertoire, advertising, and chorus history. Newspaper articles from local and international press offer reviews, announcements, and media perceptions of the chorus. Information illustrating the abundant civic engagement of the OMC appears in proclamations and awards from local, state, national, and international personalities. This objective information helps propel the story forward, as do the personal letters and stories contained within the collection. Because many documents from the latter part of the 1970s are missing, the primary source information becomes more anecdotal and subjective. This study illustrates some of the ways in which the OMC went beyond mere survival to occupy a significant place in the musical life of Phoenix. Engagement in civic and social functions and support for non-profit organizations established the chorus as more than just a musical ensemble. Their pursuit under Hess of "Cultural Citizenship" earned them international recognition as civic leaders and ambassadors of goodwill.

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2010