Join Chicago Men’s A Cappella and The Chicago Children’s Choir for a Christmas Concert! Tickets are available online or at the door.
In addition to being exhilarating, the first few days of school are always a little overwhelming. There’s so much to do, it’s easy to forget that this is your chance to audition for the best choir on campus – Chicago Men’s A Cappella! Joining CMAC will provide you with the chance to perform in a close brotherhood of singers, under the direction of renowned conductor Bruce Tammen. This year, we will be performing in three major concerts, including joint concerts with the Notre Dame Glee Club and the Chicago Children’s Choir, to be held in the historic Rockefeller Chapel.
Auditions will take place in Bond Chapel, our new gorgeous new rehearsal space right in the center of campus. They will be held Wednesday, September 25th, from 11am-1pm, and Tuesday, October 4th, from 5:30-7:30pm.
If you would like to audition, just email email@example.com, and please include your name and phone number – we will get back to you shortly with your audition time. (Walk-in auditions are certainly also welcome, so if you forget to email, just show up!) The audition does not require a prepared piece, so if you have no formal training, don’t worry. We accept members with all levels of experience, and our conductor will only ask you to perform a few simple pitch exercises. We look forward to hearing you sing!
This August, thirteen current and former CMAC members had the fortune of working with our conductor, Bruce Tammen, in a live production of Howard Shore’s award winning soundtrack of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, together with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and choristers from Chicago Chorale, Lakeside Singers, and Chicago Children’s Choir.
For those of you unfamiliar with the performance, here’s an excerpt from Bruce’s blog:
“The musicians fill the pavilion’s stage, as per a usual concert. An enormous movie screen hangs above and behind us; smaller screens hang from trees and poles throughout the park’s grounds. The production team, of which Mr. Wicki is a part, presents all of the film except the music track; the performers on stage perform that live, under Mr. Wicki’s direction. He, in turn, keeps his eyes glued on a laptop which is right in front of him, on his music stand; he watches a cursor, and exactly matches his gestures to the location of the cursor on his screen, keeping all of us together. Volume levels are controlled from the control booth at the rear of the pavilion, so that the music never overwhelms the dialogue and special effects. The whole thing is an amazing operation. Singers and players must react immediately and confidently to every gesture, though they cannot see the film themselves, or the whole show slides off the road into the ditch. That it never does, is very much to the credit of Mr Wicki’s steel nerves and intense powers of concentration, as well as to the amazing skill and dexterity of the orchestra players, who do not put in anything like the amount of rehearsal, that the singers do.
“The singers perform in elvish, orcish, and some kind of early English (at least, it says so in the score instructions!). It all looks like gibberish on the page—written first in some phonetic system particular to the composer, then transliterated into a rough International Phonetic Alphabet, and then tweaked at will throughout the course of rehearsals, according to what we hear on the movie soundtrack—which often follows no rules at all, but sounds good in the given dramatic context. The transliterator/transcriber leaves many questions and issues unresolved—we often plug our noses and jump, during rehearsal, and hope it all turns out OK. Frequently, as well, the singers have to find and sing pitches which may look clear in the piano reduction in our scores, but actually come from the timpani or some other barely pitched or audible instrument, across the orchestra, perhaps while an explosion is occurring on the screen– and just pray we get it right. I am working from a score used in a previous performance—and frequently see the symbol for a tuning fork, drawn in the score a bar before a choral entrance– the previous singer was taking no chances.”
Many of the CMAC’ers (myself included) involved did not take part in the similar production of The Fellowship of the Ring that happened two summers ago, and this was our first time learning and performing a piece of this scale. Speaking from my personal experience, the entire process was both educational and inspiring. The music – Howard Shore’s score is simple, yet elegant and mesmerizing; taking on a myriad of colors and textures, yet managing to stay true to his established themes and motifs. When we finally got to work with the film in rehearsal, I was particularly captured by how the music breathed with the flow of the scenes and the dialogue, never an independent agent, always a vital part of the whole.
In addition, the venue was absolutely phenomenal. Sitting behind the CSO in a Ravinia Park packed to the brim with an audience of 10,000 created a wonderful atmosphere and setting for us performers.
As enjoyable as the final product was, however, a very important part of my experience came from the preparation and discipline that was asked of us. It was inspiring to sing in a group with such a consistently high standard of musicianship, and I think all of the CMAC’ers that participated benefited from the experience. The rigor and fastidiousness with which everyone approached the music set a remarkable example for the many of us who had little to no musical background before CMAC. Hopefully, we can take all of the great attention to detail in rhythm, pitch, dynamics, color, etc. that was asked of us, and apply that same mentality to the pieces that we will work on in CMAC this year.
Three weeks have passed since we last departed from Ravinia, and I miss the music sorely (I’ve been playing the piano reduction of some of my favorite selections to help me cope with the withdrawal). I’m definitely looking forward to next summer, when Return of the King has already been confirmed for the Ravinia calendar! Next time around, don’t miss your chance to be a part of it, whether as an audience member or a singer!