celebrating stella’s anniversary

 Posted by on Saturday, November 21, 2020  The Choir Diary
Nov 212020

Stella Pradeau is Cantabile’s cherished and extraordinarily talented collaborative pianist.


It’s been a year since I slipped and fell on the ice breaking my right hand. It’s been almost a year since the surgery that pinned and plated my bones together to help them heal straight and strong. What a crazy thing to have happen to me! And how can so many things have changed in these past months?

I approached my rehabilitation with a somewhat positive attitude and a lot of motivation. It was slow going. I dutifully kept my hand therapy appointments—with a great gal by the name of Mitzi—and, as befits a pianist, approached my exercises with discipline. But, oh my, I was so ill prepared for how an injury of this type takes much time to heal—is still taking time to heal even now—and I quickly felt overcome and very sad.

Scriabin filled those first weeks. I worked on his prelude for left hand, written for the composer himself as he dealt with a hand injury. I began slow, tedious five finger exercises in my right hand at the 6-week mark—I couldn’t even play legato at first! It was slow going.

Now I’m playing. During this pandemic, making music is a sweet pleasure for me. With the extra time and no demands for concerts/rehearsals/other things, I am able to practice pieces I am drawn to and I am able to work at leisure, not pushing my right hand too far and taking it as it comes. It is a blessing that I am grateful for every day. No expectations, no demands—just time to continue my rehabilitation.

I do miss making music with Cantabile. After so many years as a choral collaborator, the pure, clear sound of human voices blending together is just about as close as Heaven comes…after the 88 black and white keys, of course!

In the video I am sharing, I chose to pair a Scriabin prelude with a Bach prelude. Scriabin was an easy choice; I have played many of his preludes these past months, upon the recommendation of a good friend/colleague, and have come to love his harmonies and colors. Fortunately, Scriabin, probably because of his own hand injury, wrote many things that are easy on the right hand! Bach, simply put, is fantastic therapy for my hand. At the beginning of summer, I worked through all his inventions. Good stuff. Very good for the mind and soul. Very good for the hand and fingers.

I especially like this pairing because of the harmonic relationship: Scriabin’s prelude (g# minor) features a simple, melancholy melody suspended over rich, colorful left hand harmonies. The ending is one huge crescendo into a defiant Major V chord (D# Major.) The Bach prelude (from the Partita in B-flat Major) is sweet and warm with lovely lines weaving in and out of each other. I love this relationship of ending the Scriabin on a suspended D# major harmony (enharmonically, E-flat) and then gently beginning the Bach prelude in B-flat major. I delight in this IV-I relationship, also known as the Amen cadence, between the resilient, powerful ending of the Scriabin and the gentle, sweet Bach prelude. Enjoy!

songs that speak to us: david norris

 Posted by on Friday, November 13, 2020  The Choir Diary
Nov 132020

Tenor David Norris says: We just recorded the song “Hope Lingers On” as part of a virtual choir. It was written by Lissa Schneckenburger and arranged for SATB by Andrea Ramsey. I think the lyric especially relates to the current situation in this country, although its real impact is when it appears with the music.

Hope Lingers On

Lissa Schneckenburger

My mother, when love is gone, in our darkest hour hope lingers on.
My father, when peace is gone, in our darkest hour hope lingers on.
I will not hate, and I will not fear. In our darkest hour, hope lingers on.
My sister, when equality’s gone in our darkest hour, hope lingers on.
My brother, with tolerance gone in our darkest hour hope lingers on.
I will not hate, and I will not fear. In our darkest hour, hope lingers on.
My love, when honor is gone, in our darkest hour hope lingers on.
My country, when justice is gone, in our darkest hour hope lingers on.
I will not hate, and I will not fear. In our darkest hour, hope lingers on.

Here it is performed by Allegro con Brio in Kansas City:

songs that speak to us: ellen ross

 Posted by on Wednesday, November 11, 2020  The Choir Diary
Nov 112020

From alto Ellen Ross: This is the song that’s making me happy these days! This is Samba de Mayo by El Eco with the vocal by Kim Nazarian of New York Voices. I heard it one day on KUVO and had to find out what it was. It’s a great song to listen to when I’m doing anything around the house. I can’t help but move, smile and vocalize along with Kim Nazarian. The uncertainty of the election makes it a perfect day for a joyful pick-me-up with Samba de Mayo. Enjoy!

we must sing

 Posted by on Saturday, November 7, 2020  The Choir Diary
Nov 072020

For a singer, singing isn’t a choice. It’s a compulsion. We must sing.

In the shower, in the car, nursery rhymes, the happy birthday song… every chance to sing is a happy moment.

For the choir creature, the highest form of singing is in harmony with others. We join our brothers and sisters around the world in desperate longing to sing with others right now.

As such, it is worth noting the creative, awkward, and at times desperate ways singers are attempting to sing together safely in this time.

Take one of our unofficial* garage singing groups, who met last week to sing in a parking garage in Boulder. The search for a public space with room to spread, favorable airflow and satisfactory acoustics is not easy. During their session last week, they had to compete with a jackhammer job!

(Bravo, crew!)

The choir creature will sing on. On Election Tuesday, another group met to sing in the evening. They put down their phones, abandoned their news feeds, forgot about division in the world. And for 90 blissful minutes they centered themselves on shared vibrations and shared meaning.

Choir singers need each other.

I know all Cantabilites are finding a way to sing right now, whether amongst themselves, with their household members, or alongside a favorite recording.

While we are grateful for any opportunity to sing, whether alone in the shower or together with jackhammer, it is no replacement for Cantabile rehearsals and performances.

The great irony of this season is that choir singers need each other more than ever. We need harmony, we need unity, we need shared experience and we need connection. Yet chorale signing is simply out of reach.

But we will not lose heart. We will persevere and find creative ways to overcome. And cling to those small moments of unison with something or someone.

Above all, we know that this season… this too shall pass.

Until next time…

Earth Song

Frank Ticheli

Sing, be, live, see
This dark stormy hour
The wind, it stirs
The scorched Earth cries out in vain

Oh war and power, you blind and blur
The torn heart cries out in pain

But music and singing have been my refuge
And music and singing shall be my light

A light of song, shining strong
Hallelujah, hallelujah

Through darkness and pain and strife
I’ll sing, I’ll be, live, see


*Some Cantabile members have gathered to sing and are self-organized and not formally affiliated with Cantabile.

sky loom

 Posted by on Tuesday, November 3, 2020  The Choir Diary
Nov 032020

In November 2016, we performed “Sky Loom” by Jean Belmont Ford at First Congregational Church of Boulder. In light of the devastating fires we’ve experienced in Colorado in 2020, it feels timely to revisit this piece which Belmont Ford composed from two North American Indian texts “intended to symbolize the intertwined threads that link a parent and child – or a people and the land.”

Cello played by Julie Emery. Part of the concert series titled Choral Heritage of the United States. Video editing by Cantabile member Hari Baumbach.