Posted by: mdmusingsie | April 21, 2012

Choral Compliments

As Monty Python would say, ‘and now for something completely different.’

Despite my adoration of traditional Irish music, I do enjoy other forms of music, and tonight I attended a choral concert hosted by Cois Cladaigh, a Galway chamber choir, which featured themselves along with the Ranelagh Singers from Dublin.  Taking advantage of beautiful acoustics, the concert took place at St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church.

I’ve seen Cois Cladaigh perform previously at Christmas and at another concert several months ago.  They are currently celebrating the 30th anniversary of their founding.

These types of concerts take me back to my choral days in Portland, Oregon, and even farther back in junior high school.  Although it has been years since I sang with the (primarily volunteer) church choir, some beautiful songs stick in your heart forever, and I found myself humming along with old favorites like Maurice Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas, Anton Bruckner’s Locus Iste, and Hans Leo Hassler’s Dixit Maria.   I even find myself listening for some of the things that we worked long and hard at like avoiding the glottal stops when beginning pieces like Locus Iste or O Magnum Mysterium (the latter wasn’t performed tonight but has been performed previously by Cois Cladaigh).  Both choirs were successful in avoiding those pitfalls. The Ranelagh Singers also performed a number of other songs including one by Georg Freidrich Handel called Ombra mai fu which is one of my favorite tunes on Paul Schwartz’s Aria 3: Metamorphosis CD (an enticing mixture of jazz and opera).

Hearing this type of music brought to mind somewhat of a contrast that I see between choral, or most types of classical music, and traditional Irish music or even rock and roll.  When performing music of a classical nature, there is very little room for interpretation or improvisation – putting your own personal twist on the piece, which is highly encouraged in the other forms of music. 

For those of you who may be wondering why I mentioned that the choir I sang is was primarily volunteer, I just want to clarify that it’s unlikely you’ll see me performing anywhere, anytime soon.  I was one of the volunteers, and while my heart was in it, my voice didn’t always cooperate, or at least that’s the impression I received from some of the looks the choir director sent in my general direction.  My opinion has always been that as long as your heart is in your music, the Creator will forgive your mistakes, whereas us mere mortals tend to be harsher critics.


Ranelagh Singers from Dublin


Cois Cladaigh from Galway


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