Have you ever been sitting in a concert and found yourself wondering which pieces were the musicians’ favorites? As a former choral singer myself, I know that there are some songs we singers all love to rehearse and perform, and others that, well, aren’t our favorites.
I recently asked the KSS choristers about their favorite songs from our upcoming jazz concert, Love is in the Air. The answers were revealing, and often fascinating.
Taking a Chance on Love (arranged by Darmon Meader) was mentioned a number of times, for many different reasons. One singer revealed that he kept finding the song running through his head whenever he wasn’t thinking of anything else. Another added that “it’s fun to sing and optimistic!” A couple of other singers mentioned that they really liked the Darmon Meader arrangement that KSS is singing, “because the rhythm is interesting and challenging, and the harmonies are very ‘cool,’ early jazz style. Just plain fun to sing.”
Taking a Chance made conductor Karen’s hit list as well: “It’s a straight-forward, yet harmonically rich setting of this stylish standard. Lots of trading off with a soloist.”
You can hear an exerpt from the song below, sung by a university jazz choir.
Eric Whitacre’s This Marriage was another clear favorite. One singer said that it “has some lovely melodious lines with rich harmonies. It’s a treat to sing with my fellow choir mates, as the different parts work off each other. The lyrics (poetry by Jalal al-Din Rumi) are exotic and convey an intimate, universal message about the sacred relationship in a marriage.”
This Marriage was also mentioned by Karen, for similar reasons: “It’s about an unusual subject – a mature love, a committed love – not just the frothy fizzy first stages of love. It’s a Rumi poem, and I love Rumi. I love the unique harmonic structure – parallel everything – like a single song that is enriched.”
A YouTube version of the song – conducted by Whitacre himself – can be found below.
Another singer mentioned Blue Skies: “I find the tune floating around in my brain at all hours of the day. The harmonies and rhythms skip along, uplifting the spirit, carrying us forward. If I’m feeling lethargic at all, I’ve found that humming a few bars of this piece gets me going!”
A more obscure favorite was another suggestion by Karen: “Live with me and be my love – the first George Shearing tune on the program. It has a smooth sophistication and restraint that sets up the concert wonderfully. Deceptively simple with stylish harmonies that are always fresh.”
Far and away the piece most often mentioned by the singers, however, was Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns (again arranged by Darmon Meader). I have never really cared for this song, myself, but I have to admit that when I sat in on an early KSS rehearsal back in January, I was won over by Meader’s simple yet gorgeous arrangement. It has obviously struck a chord with the singers, as well.
“When a few of us choir members were in New York City to sing at Carnegie Hall, a couple of us went to see “A Little Night Music,” and Catherine Zeta-Jones sang “Bring in the Clowns,” and it was remarkable. Every time I sing that song at choir I’m transported back to NYC and the wonderful time we had making music with fabulous people in NYC.”
Says another singer: “As well as being a great tune, [it's my favorite because of] it’s connection with “Smiles of a Summer Night,” which is one of my favorite Ingmar Bergman movies, and was the source material for “A Little Night Music.”
Karen has the last word: “It’s a great song, and this is a surprising and imaginative setting of it that really works.”
For more details about the concert, click here.
Michelle Lynne Goodfellow is a former KSS chorister, and its current Director of Communications
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