Monday, 6 January 2014

Bach, Giordani and back in the saddle

First day of the term - how quickly it comes around. It is good to be re harnessed and get back into teaching, even though one always dreads the start day !

My Mondays are very pleasing, and I have a wide selection of students spanning about 50 years in age difference. We are heading towards Song School now for some, and exams for others, so there is always an aim. The most important thing in teaching is having an aim. I am constantly surprised by the willingness of my ladies of a certain age to work simply because they love singing, but even they, after a good number of years lessons now, are as eager to complete aims, to work towards concerts and exams, as are the youngsters ! In fact in many ways they are extremely organised that their practise is thorough, beautifully planned and takes the worry out of 'being ready for the moment' ! Oh that my under 18's were so organised and methodical, my blood pressure would never need to rise again ! I suppose though, one does not really want to put old heads on young shoulders. ( would be nice in the run up to exams however !!)

I was revisiting two songs I love today, that is the Bach Et Exultavit from the Magnificat, and at the other end of the usually perceived difficulty scale, Caro Mio Ben by Giordani. The Bach is so tricky but so full of sheer joy and shiny melody. It rolls along with a cheerful 3/8, more often used in a jig or a folk dance, yet retains the gravitas of a Bach oratorio. It is the Mezzo aria in the work, and I have very happy memories of being the mezzo soloist in the line up of three female soloists, soprano, mezzo and alto. As far as I know it is the only Bach work with three female voice solo parts. The alto has the Esurientes which I clearly recall being almost hypnotised by. It is a wonder of long florid runs almost all of which are dotted, and the dotted rhythm repeated over and over seems always to send me into a musical trance, and it's a good deal cheaper than chemical substances !

Caro Mio Ben is one of those songs which we singers have sung since what feels like the Middle Ages ! It is one of the first ventures into the Italian language which teachers use. Simple enough for a Grade 3 beginner, and yet taxing enough and complex enough in so many ways for a fully trained and professional singer to slip into a recital between two more dramatic and 'in your face' Italian arias. I sang it as a youngster and as a pro, and never stopped finding something new and beautiful in its simple and pure line. It is all too easy to disregard it as a beginners song, with not enough in it for a professional 'to be bothered with'. That last sentence is a direct quote from a nameless singer/teacher I once had lunch with at a festival..............

So my first day is done. I am pleased to say that I am away very much less this term than last, and so lessons will have much more continuity and be a degree more relaxed. When I am away I have to give more work and plan further ahead than my aging brain can cope with - so you see it is better for the pupil and better for me !

Win Win !!!


Photos from covers of CD's in which the greatest singers perform Caro Mio Ben - take note all singers who think it too small a song..........


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