Three CMU students and one alumnus recently had a unique opportunity to receive professional feedback on their scores from the Vancouver Chamber Choir and conductor Jon Washburn.
At the Interplay workshop on February 20, CMU students Mark Holmes a Court, Dominique Lemoine, Tirzah Lyons, and alumnus Jesse Krause (CMU ’10), heard their scores come alive as they were sight read by the choir. Their scores were chosen from among those submitted in response to an open call for compositions.
Interplay is an opportunity for Canadian composers who write for chorus to workshop their in-progress or recently completed choral works with Jon Washburn and the twenty-member Vancouver Chamber Choir.
“It was an amazing opportunity to receive such valuable feedback and to hear my piece being performed by a professional, talented choir. I was able to get a sense of what worked and what didn’t,” says Lemoine. “Being immersed in the choral workshop environment gave me a better understanding of choral music. In addition, all of the gorgeous tones coming from the choir as they performed the various pieces in the workshop inspired me to want to produce more music for choirs.”
Each composer was allotted individual rehearsal time of approximately half an hour and the composers received comments and suggestions from Washburn and choir members. CMU music instructors Neil Weisensel and Randolph Peters were in attendance at the workshop.
“CMU is a place where choral music and singing is taken seriously. It’s nice to get a professional perspective as well—a professional critique will both appreciate beautiful things and good things the student has written and can also provide critique on page, notation, and stylistic elements,” says Peters.
Feedback provided in these workshops may focus on the score’s musical and technical features, pitch selection, strengths, flaws, textures, colours, presentation on the page, and notations, among other aspects of choral writing.
“It was great to hear my piece sung by a professional choir and to work with Jon Washburn, who has a lot of experience in conducting new music. Some of my compositional choices were confirmed and others were challenged, both of which will help me improve future compositions,” says Lyons. “I wish more people had attended, as I feel there was something for everyone to learn. I hope I have the opportunity to be a part of something like this again.”