Maui College Chorus: Earth Songs

Maui College Choir prepares for spring concerts entitled Earth Songs.

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First I met the conductor, Celia Canty. Then I saw the college choir perform. Next I wrote reviews.

Now I accompany the singers, arrange for them to perform, and blog about their upcoming performances.

Maui College Chorus, April 2012. Photo: Lloyd Canty
Maui College Chorus, April 2012. Photo: Lloyd Canty

I asked Celia about her choice of songs for the Spring 2012 concert. “They all have to do with the earth,” she replied in a recent interview. “The songs are from all over the world, and the choir sings them in original language. But ‘earth’ also has another meaning, too — as in planting trees, jasmine flower, etc.”

In the beginning, the choir was a collection of  individuals with separate voices and universes. After weeks of rehearsing, they blend into one single sound. It requires hearing oneself and hearing others. Celia Canty, who has perfect pitch, can hear if someone sings out of tune. She says it’s both a blessing and a curse to have this ability to hear absolute pitch, as it’s sometimes called.

When we arranged to have the college cable TV crew film the singers, it was intended as a concert performance with no audience. I would have preferred a video of a rehearsal, for that’s far more interesting than a concert. At a rehearsal, one gets to learn. One gets to see how the raw material becomes refined into something beautiful. See the video below of a rehearsal of the popular Chinese folk song — Jasmine Flower, which Puccini used in the opera Turandot and which I once arranged for harp (PDF) because I loved it so much and wanted to play it.

Watch short video clip: Celia Canty rehearses Maui College Chorus on harp

Maui College Chorus, Spring 2012. Photo: Lloyd Canty
Maui College Chorus, Spring 2012. Photo: Lloyd Canty

Performances (all free):

  • 13 April 2012 @2:45 pm Preview for Academic Senate Meeting, UHMC
  • 19 April 2012 @3:45 pm Roselani Place, Kahului
  • 27 April 2012 @7 pm Iao Congregational Church, Wailuku
  • 3 May 2012 @4 pm Kalama Heights, Kihei
Maui College Chorus Concert Program, Spring 2012
Maui College Chorus Concert Program, Spring 2012

Many hands, many pianos

Many pianos do not make an orchestra. It requires pianists to listen to each other and play in sync.

I was surprised how difficult it was to get my students to play the same note at the same time to make the sound of one note.

Pianos are, after all, not stringed instruments that can ease into a single sound. Pianos are not wind instruments either.

At my first rehearsal with three other pianists on four pianos, I noticed the same phenomenon as I had in class. We were easily out of sync. Our leader turned up the volume of the metronome. We followed the loud beatings at the expense of not hearing each other. Eventually we stopped the amplified metronome so we could really play like an ensemble.

At the second rehearsal a week later, we had improved greatly. Not that we had practised more, I think, but that we got used to each other. We were in tune. And in sync.

It’s hard to expect 4 pianos to sound like an orchestra. But it sure is fun to play. And it’s difficult to hear who is playing what part. We are all pianos after all!

Concert date: 14th July 2012 at the Maui Music Conservatory in Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Mall