Fall Concert – November 25, 2014

There was an error in the most recent edition of the Decatur Magazine concerning the concert date for Opus 24’s fall concert date. The concert is on November 25, 2014. The Decatur Choral Society apologizes for any inconvenience our mistake may have caused. We will silently dedicate one piece to you during the concert, and you may choose which one.

Bill Horton
President
Decatur Choral Society

I’ve Never Heard Opus Sing

I have sung in the tenor section of Opus 24 for 23 years.  In all that time I have never heard Opus sing.

Now, I have heard each section sing, usually from in back or next to them.  But I have never sat facing Opus and actually heard the blend of their voices at one time.  I know that the tenors and the other sections sound wonderful, but I’ve never gotten to hear their blended harmonies as a choral sound should be heard.  

Milt Scott, our director, has heard us many times or course, from that scary place in front, with singers concentrating on his every gesture, facial expression, and nuance of body language which we are trained to study.  But usually he is a little too close to enjoy the blend of sound.  Occasionally he does walk far back to enjoy the sounds in space and distance, mixed in with the acoustic presence of our venue.  However, he is thinking about quite a few technical details so it is probably difficult to just sit back and let the sound flow over and around him.  He generally spends little time at a distance from the choir, and soon moves back to his command post.  

The irony of this is that I don’t think I could sit back and listen to Opus 24 sing to me, with the chords sounding like they are written to sound for an audience.  My ears and brain automatically and uncontrollably sort out the tenor part, and leaves the rest of the beautiful melodies and chordal fulfillment as just background sound.  In fact, if I were just listening, I’d be thinking, “I want to be singing!”  It takes a couple of years for me to not separate the tenor part from the music.  Then I am listening to a recording rather than a live performance.

The audiences are fortunate to be able to enjoy what I can’t hear.  Come and hear our blends of sound which we have put together for you at our concert November 25th, 2014.  You’ll be glad that you did!

William Horton
President
Decatur Choral Society

Choir Singing

I imagine that this is old news to a lot of folks.  I was reflecting the other day on how I could become a better singer.  The truth is that by now, after singing in choirs for over fifty years, I know everything that I need to know about how to be the world’s greatest choir singer.  The problem is remembering all the instruction, advice, experience, and study when I actually have my mouth open with sound coming out.

I do forget various aspects of choral singing occasionally as I practice and perform.  It is as if I am a juggler who does pretty well, but drops a ball occasionally.

The best voice teacher I ever had worked very patiently with me explaining where my tongue should be placed when singing, and I do understand.  And when I am singing in her presence, I generally forget, and once in a while, receive a sad sideways glance.

Another tactic which I need to use is to read ahead in the score of where we are singing, so that  I am already prepared for approaching tricky words, or complicated rhythms, dynamics, or scariest of all, surprise rests that are waiting for me.  I even write “HURRY” or “THINK” a few measures in advance of certain difficult sections.  I usually am successful, but on occasion, for a beat or two, I sing as if I am not a tenor.

Controlled breathing is so important that singers are usually introduced to this surprisingly difficult concept right from the beginning.  Where did my lung capacity go, and why do I also now need to think about my back and knees just as much?  The juggling simile is in effect here, also.

Singing in a great choir makes lapsed moments easier, because my friends around me, being tenors, are singing perfectly.  This gives me a chance to catch my breath, return to my own standards of performance, and gather my wits about me.

So the next time you get to listen to Opus 24 in concert, know that as you see happy faces, that at least one of us has dozens of thoughts zigzagging around in his brain.  And this is why we practice as much as we do.

Bill Horton
President
Decatur Choral Society