Date: May 23, 2012
I've been directing and singing counter tenor in the Trinity Compline Choir with a monthly Compline since May of 2009 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Nevada City CA. You may have already downloaded my entire FREE PD library (385 pieces) of music for ATBarB compline from our website:
This hybrid ATBarB voicing was historically all-male, but in our town of 2500, finding counter tenors (or male altos) seemed hopeless. We then started using female altos to help cover the part, which works out well. In the meantime, we now have do enough male altos to do the job. Most of the females will be moving over to a new group which will also chant Compline once a month, with The Office of Compline of some kind every two weeks. Where will the women go?
Recently, a new idea was born: an all-female Compline Choir with the fetching moniker: Vocem angelorum. I tried to find precident for this (outside of the Convent) and could find none. This group may be ground-breaking. I call it: "Colorized Convent" as the Sisters chant in mostly unison and Vocem will color it up with some harmony. I percieved a need for more women to be part of the Compline experience and solicited a dozen ladies posessing a straight, non-wobbly tone, and the ability to read music at least moderately. I ordered about 40 published works that I thought would work for women. Then I got to work composing and transcribing appropriate Compline music (upwards of 45 works now) and an Order for Compline (in treble clef) for a chantress, a speaker, unison chant, SA, SSA, SAA, SSAA, and SSAAT. The tenor part (in treble/8va clef) in a 5-part setting is just that: a part. The gender is still female. It beats writing out more than 3 ledger lines below the treble staff. The sound of the group is...well...angelic. The ace-in-the-hole for the group is the sound of the low altos. The 3 'anchor women' have a just-great tone (and amplitude) all the way down to low C, low B, and low A, respectively.(and no, they're not smokers!, but older helps) Our 150 year old nave of wood and plaster is especially sympathetic to the sound of Vocem. To get things rolling, I'm conducting (until I work myself out of a job) and find it difficult NOT to sing with the girls. However, there are no clergy or other male sounds to befoul the ambience of the group. All-women, all the time.
If you have any advice for repertoire for Vocem, I'm all ears. Also, if you have anything you want to suggest or discuss, this is the place.
regards, as always, jefe (Jeff Reynolds)
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