Thoughts from Composer Andy Vores – Rehearsing “In Childhood’s Thicket”

Chorus pro Musica has been working on my In Childhood’s Thicket for a little while, and all seemed straightforward. But, this is an odd work to put together; it looks straightforward, but then things happen that can easily throw everyone involved off-kilter. That’s what I thought would happen at the first rehearsal incorporating the live loopers; these record snippets of sound various sections of the chorus sing and play them back immediately. You can overdub again and again to build up some complex, if slightly unstable, textures.

The chorus is rehearsing at Old South Church, not in a state-of-the-art studio, so for this rehearsal our sound wizards, Paul Lehrman and Nathan Watts, placed speakers in the hall and three general purpose microphones and we started.

The sounds accompanying the chorus were all new to everyone’s ears and we had some of those not infrequent glitches that beset a brand new set-up. These resulted in some kind of thrilling siren/airplane diving noises; not part of the piece at all, but an interesting first thing to negotiate around.

I am happy to report that everyone kept their cool; the sound engineers worked out what the issue was (a Microsoft operating system update rendered some of the drivers obsolete and the commands for two programmed functions had been reversed) and the chorus sang through the sonic soup surrounding them.

This will get tighter and tighter as we go; I’m never concerned at early rehearsals anymore having experienced again and again how once logistics are ironed out and everyone knows how this unheard new piece goes, plenty of fine music-making follows. That was what happened the following week, when the looping locked in splendidly. Next, we bring in the soloists . . . looking forward to hearing yet another layer added.

Here is a short rehearsal clip for our first tech rehearsal together: