CJ Replay: Reposition That Choir
Date: August 28, 2014
(An excerpt from the Choral Journal article, “Choral/Orchestral Balance: An Old Problem Reviewed" by James Fankhauser)
Can anyone imagine a choral director who would not choose to have his choir within eight feet of the podium for choral-orchestral works? Does anyone really like placing the choir at the back of the stage, behind the orchestra where they often cannot hear the instruments once they start singing? I think not. Certainly, I have used my fair share of time in concerts madly trying to recapture some errant portion of the choir that had drifted away from the prevailing tempo. Many dress rehearsals have been spent fussing at the choir to produce their usual clarity without really being able to hear what they were doing while the orchestra played. I have conducted many ritards that sprouted grotesque appendages on their way to an unhappy conclusion, the orchestra right on my stick, the choir splitting its seams. Nature of the beast, you say? Not any more!
In choral-orchestral matters the final chapter has yet to be written. Just when everything seems to have been tried, how refreshing to find that a major break-through is possible: the beast still moves, and breathes. These are brave words. I believe, however, you will agree with me once I have outlined the results of my two experiments with a "new" concert arrangement.
What makes this new arrangement so exciting is that it is not new at all! Instead, it is a return to the concert layouts of the late eighteenth and most of the' nineteenth centuries, layouts that will render a surprising clarity to the performance of choral music of this period.
READ the entire article.