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Disclaimer: The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent the San Francisco Symphony’s positions or opinions.

Janos Gereben in the San Francisco Classical Voice

Donnerstag, September 22, 2011
... Mahler was not known for cost-efficient planning, so he thought nothing of having some 100 singers — women of Ragnar Bohlin's SFS Chorus and Susan McMane's San Francisco Girls Chorus — sit for over an hour before singing angelically in the brief "What the Angels Tell Me" movement, and then cease because, as Bruno Walter said of the last movement, "words are stilled, for what language can utter heavenly love more powerfully and forcefully than music itself?" ...

Joshua Kosman in the San Franciso Chronicle

Freitag, September 23, 2011
... gave way to a bright, evocative picture of heaven from the women of Ragnar Bohlin's Symphony Chorus ...
September 23, 2011

Mahler performances

Time flies fast, especially with rehearsals and performances every day, and a full-time job as well.
This week, we have rehearsals on Monday and Tuesday, and performances on Wednesday and Thursday. Today is our free day, so I actually have time to write and reflect. Saturday and Sunday will be the remaining Mahler performances, and on Monday, we'll start rehearsing Verdi's Requiem.

Mahler's third symphony is long. According to wikipedia, the standard performing time is between 90 and 100 minutes. The chorus only sings in the 5th movement, which lasts about 5min. Accordingly, all rehearsals were quite short.

The women's chorus has been joined by the delightfully refreshing San Francisco Girls Chorus (That also means, that one can observe lots of lectures on how to put on make-up in the bathrooms).

Each performance day, we have the same routine: Arrive early to get dressed (if coming from work); warm-ups with Ragnar, the chorus director, and last minute fixes; small break; locking up of the valuables in a big box; line-up and walk up the stairs to the top of the building.

The performances so far have been wonderful. Up there on the risers, we are surrounded by the soaring sound of the orchestra. I am sitting in the last row, and it is a pity, that I can't observe the brass, which is quite dominant in this piece.

MTT takes the tempi on the slower side, so the performances finish around 10 pm. Listening is bliss, sitting still for nearly two hours isn't.

The reviews are very complimentary (see the reviews page), and I am looking forward to finishing up this run on the weekend.
Yeah to my first production with the Symphony Chorus!

September 13, 2011

My first rehearsal - Mahler's 3rd

My first task on my way to rehearsal was trying to find an appropriate concert blouse. I was fortunate, to find very nice dress pants in a thrift store on my way to the fabric store, which saved me the effort of sewing a skirt. The pants are long enough, which is quite a find.

Unfortunately, the only top I have that fits the dress code is a cashmere sweater. Considering my frequent hot-flashes, I don't think that's a good idea. So I ventured to the Nordstrom rack in the hope of scoring some nice blouse. Alas, nothing was available, so I have to keep looking.

The timing is always tricky on a game day (I work next to the Giant's stadium), and leaving a few minutes too late can amount to a long time in traffic. That's why I gave my self a lot of time. Rehearsal started at 7pm, and I found parking right away, ended up being the second person arriving.

The timekeeper showed me my mailbox, and gave me a brief introduction on how things work. Then, people started trickling in, and the rehearsal started right on time. It was impressive how well everybody already knew the piece, musically and language-wise!

I had missed the first rehearsal, and learned my part from an orchestra score that I found on the web. Apparently, there are slightly different versions around, at least of the 5th movement, which is the only one with chorus. But it was close enough, so I didn't have to scramble for the notes. It is much more relaxing not having to sight-read.

All in all, everybody was very friendly and welcoming, the quality of the chorus is high, and I am grateful to be part of it now!

August 29, 2011
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Rehearsals starting next week!

Next week, rehearsals will start for Mahler's 3rd Symphony! I am excited, but also sad, because I will probably miss the first rehearsal, because of some medical procedure, that I tried to get done (I blame the insurance!). So, MY first rehearsal will probably be Sept 12th.

Anyway, last week, we newbies received the "Guide for new members", and now I have to get busy:
The required dress is black, either dressy pants and blouse, or long skirt/dress. I had planned to use my nice velvet pants, but alas, the instructions say: no velvet. Just ordered a couple of patterns, but might just fake it, depending on the fabric I'll find. I used to have the perfect chorus skirt: non-wrinkle wool knit, heavy fabric, flexible, elegant, long enough. At 6 ft, it is not that easy to find full-length clothing that actually makes it all the way down.

I already like the attitude:

  • BRING WITH YOU TO REHEARSAL a good humor, a receptive attitude, a keen mental state, and attentiveness.
  • TURN OFF CELL PHONES AND OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES during all rehearsals and performances.
  • Bring to the stage only your body and your music (no handbags, magazines, knitting).

I especially chuckled about the note about knitting on stage! In Germany, knitting on or near the stage is considered bad luck, because the whole production might get caught in a web, and thus fail.

July 15, 2011

Singing in the SF Symphony Chorus

I am happy to report, that I have been accepted to sing with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus!
Rehearsals will start in September, and I will sing in Mahler's 3rd Symphony, Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem, Verdi's Messa da Requiem, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Exciting!

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The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent the positions or opinions of any other entity.