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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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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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Date Created
2010

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Singers and sound: an introduction to Tomatis-based listening training for singers

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ABSTRACT This document introduces singers and voice teachers to Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis's listening training method with a particular emphasis on its relevance to singers. After presenting an overview of Tomatis's work in the field of audio-psycho-phonology (circa 1947 through

ABSTRACT This document introduces singers and voice teachers to Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis's listening training method with a particular emphasis on its relevance to singers. After presenting an overview of Tomatis's work in the field of audio-psycho-phonology (circa 1947 through the 1990s) and specific ways that aspects of his theory are relevant to singers' performance skills, this project investigates the impact of listening training on singers by examining published research. The studies described in this document have investigated the impact of listening training on elements of the singer's skill set, including but not limited to measures of vocal quality such as intonation, vocal control, intensity, and sonority, as well as language pronunciation and general musicianship. Anecdotal evidence, presented by performers and their observers, is also considered. The evidence generated by research studies and anecdotal reports strongly favors Tomatis-based listening training as a valid way to improve singers' performance abilities.

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2012