Monday, 16 June 2014

Personal Addition - Choral CD Review

This is a CD Review project for Choir. I thought I'd share it on my blog as a personal addition, seeing as music is a big part of my life.

Choir: Prairie Voices

Album: Awakenings

The music on this album is performed in English, Spanish, Creole, Estonian and an unnamed African language.


1. The Sweetheart of the Sun - Eric William Barnum (Click for link to performance. From here you can also stream or buy the rest of the album.)
2. Hold Me, Rock Me - Brian Tate
3. Awakening I - Puerta Del Ser - Sid Robinovitch
4. Awakening II - Giran Las Días - Sid Robinovitch
5. Awakening III - Todo Está Quieto - Sid Robinovitch
6. Kalinda - Sydney Guillaume
7. Meestelaulud I - Meeste Laul - Veljo Tormis
8. Meestelaulud VIII - Tantuslaul - Veljo Tormis
9. Job, Job - arr. Stephen Hatfield
10. Voice Dance - Greg Jasperse
11. Kasar Mie La Gaji - Alberto Grau
12. Battle of Jericho - arr. Moses Hogan
13. Four Shakespeare Songs I - Come Away Death - Jaako Mäntyjärvi
14. Four Shakespeare Songs II - Lullaby - Jaako Mäntyjärvi
15. Four Shakespeare Songs III - Double, Double, Toil and Trouble - Jaako Mäntyjärvi
16. Four Shakespeare Songs IV - Full Fathom Five - Jaako Mäntyjärvi
17. He'll Make A Way - Byron J. Smith

I'll comment on a few of the tracks below.

#1. Sweetheart of the Sun has become by far my favourite track here. As a composition it's just beautiful, and here Prairie Voices does an amazing job with the dynamics, growing through longer held notes, and, when necessary, staying at the same dynamic and letting the chord be enjoyed as it is. The words "black" and "poppies" in particular are stressed very effectively and appropriately.

#2. Hold Me, Rock Me was also performed really nicely. It starts off with a beautiful unison melody in the sopranos, which, in this recording, is near perfectly blended and sung. All the entrances and motion during the verses are heard very clearly here under the melody. We sang this piece this year in Choir!

#3. Awakening I - Puerta Del Ser (Door of the Being) was very nice. I love that no matter what Prairie Voices always sings with good tone and tuning. I felt that at the beginning and at a few spots later in the song that one of the Sopranos tended to stick out of the sound and was also a little flat.

#4. Awakening II - Giran Las Días (The Days Spin/Turn) was fantastic. I loved the piece and the choir had really great energy when they sang it. Their sound was powerful, but it never was shouty and their tuning held up nicely because of that. The men did a great job of stressing the word "errantes" in particular during their soli section. I wanted to hear a little more from the women and altos during their soli; they weren't quite strong enough for me.

#5. Awakening III - Todo Está Quieto (Everything is Still) was performed very sensitively; the choir did a fantastic job of making sure the soloist was heard over them. The soloist was very effective when she waited for a while on longer notes to switch from straight tone to vibrato. She didn't ever try to be very loud and flashy, and the result was beautiful.

The arranger of "Job, Job", Stephen Hatfield, also arranged "Jabula Jesu", which we also sang this year in Choir.

Favourite song: Sweetheart of the Sun. I love the close harmonies and dissonances in this piece, especially during the second half. The two climax sections of this piece are just perfect to me — both are so emotional, with thick harmonies, the second featuring a soaring melody in the sopranos.

Least favourite song:  I am not really a fan of Kasar Mie La Gaji. Alberto Grau seems to be just messing around a little with this piece. Maybe he wanted it to be different, but it didn't suit my taste I found the falls at the end of each phrase at first to be unique and maybe an interesting thing to do for the beginning of the piece, but by the second minute they annoyed me. There are too many short phrases and too few long ideas, all delivered using the same four words. Some of chords were nice, but they fell off and died very quickly. All in all, I like some of the ideas in this piece, but feel that the composer just took it in the wrong direction.

I would definitely listen to this Choir again and recommend them to anyone looking for some quality choral music to enjoy.

Six Word Memoir: Confession

Photo by Raman Job

This Six Word Memoir is pretty much exactly what it looks like; I never learned to ride a bike. I think I must have had one with training wheels at some point, but I never learned to ride without them. I tried once when I was younger, and stopped after a couple of minutes because I was too scared of falling. Since then I just never cared enough to learn, and at this age it would be rather embarassing to learn. I chose the font because the faded look almost makes it seem like it's hiding out of embarassment, which is fitting for a confession.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Six Word Memoir: Me

Photo by Ryan Job

Neither side of my family has been in Canada very long, especially when you consider that some families have been living here since the eighteenth, or even seventeenth centuries. Both of my paternal grandparents are German, and came to Canada from Europe during World War II — my grandmother from Germany, and my grandfather from Poland. My mom came to Canada with her family in 1975 because of a bloody coup d'état in Chile. I'm always very proud to discuss my heritage, and also the sacrifices and hard work by my grandparents once they arrived here. Finally, of course, I was born here in Canada, and am so grateful for the amazing country in which I live. I could have used another comma after "Chilean", but instead I used a hyphen for effect. I chose the font because it looked very bold and "in-your-face", which represents the pride I feel for my mixed heritage.

Six Word Memoir: Love (Father's Day)

(I chose the picture below for obvious reasons. I chose the font because it looked very modern, which fits in with me talking about how cool my Dad is.)

Photo by Dora Job

Happy Father's Day!

My dad, despite all of the bad jokes he makes and quirky things about him, is one of the coolest people I know. Even though these days he is incredibly busy, he always makes sure he's doing whatever he can to help me with what I need — whether it's driving me to his office late at night to print out schoolwork because our printer isn't working, bringing me things I need when I'm at school, giving me advice on assignments, or just making sure I'm well rested and prepared for the day, he's always willing to do anything for me. He's always been so supportive of me in everything I do (you don't want to know how many concerts of mine he's had to sit through). He puts up with me when I'm tired and don't treat him very nicely, and best of all, he always lets me know in some way that he loves me and cares about what goes on in my life. I'm lucky to have him.

I love you, dad.

Six Word Memoir: Family

Photo by Ryan Job

This is my dog. His name is Chewey (the second e is meant to be there), not because of the Star Wars character Chewbacca, but because when he was small he liked to chew up and destroy things, and we were original enough (haha) to name him after that. He's about 8 or 9, but it feels like we've had him around forever. He doesn't really do anything other than eat, go on walks, and lay around the house, but somehow he still manages do things that make us laugh every day. He is just about the sweetest and most mellow dog in the world. He really is a part of our family, and that's why I've included him in my Six Word Memoirs. I chose the font because it struck me as a little nostalgic, and having had our dog for so long, it kind of fit.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Six Word Memoir: My Future

Photo by Noel Pagaduan

Music is something that means a lot to me, and having kids is something that I really want for my future, so it makes sense that I would put these two things together. When my kids are old enough to play an instrument or sing, I want to make music with them. My dad and I sing together at home from time to time and have performed for small events three or four times, and when we do we always enjoy it a lot, so that's definitely something I want for me and my kids when I reach that point in my life. The photo is of us singing at a church talent show earlier this year. 

Six Word Memoir: Growing Up

Photo by Ryan Job

Graduation is a milestone that people spend a lot of time and effort and money making sure is celebrated. I'm not really sure how I feel about it. I'd say that by now I'm ready to leave and for high school to be over, but at the same time, there are a lot of things about high school  that I will definitely miss. Right now I see my friends every day. I have a few friends in younger grades that I won't see nearly as often once I've graduated, and I'm a little bit afraid that I might not see those friends who are graduating with me as often, either. I'll also definitely miss the music program here, which has been a huge part of my life since Grade 9, and has been especially in Grade 12. 
Obviously, I chose to use my grad photo for the visual because graduation is what this Six-Word Memoir is about. I chose the font simply because I liked the look of it and it wasn't flashy/fancy to the point of distracting from the message, and the image is faded because it fits in well with the theme of high school being almost done and in the past.