The rehearsal schedule was rejiggered… and the off-book date was moved up. To January 11th. Yikes! That’s not such a big move, but the reality of that date finally hit me. That’s about three weeks away!
For the uninitiated, the TFC memorizes the music for all of its performances. That’s always been one of the things I love about singing with the chorus, for two reasons. First of all, it means you really get to know the music inside and out. Secondly, it means most of the “work” of being the chorus is shouldered by the individual members on their own time and pace, rather than by grinding it out through weekly evening 2-3 hour rehearsals to work on notes together. Typically the last piano rehearsal before we rehearse with the conductor on concert week is known as the “off-book” rehearsal. You can have your music with you, but you’re expected to have it memorized by that point.
There was a time when people didn’t take that off-book date too seriously. We would make note cards with text on it as reminders, or little cheat sheets to get through some of the tough parts. A few years ago John Oliver came down hard on that. “Off book is off book,” he admonished us, specifically calling out note cards and cheat sheets as signs you were not ready. Some of us still sneak a few notes or peeks at the music to confirm what we think we know.
This piece is certainly going to be one of the harder pieces we’ve had to memorize — though I’m told by most accounts that Moses und Aron, the Schoenberg opera, probably tops the list. I expect we’ll have a lot of people sneaking peeks at music on January 11th.
Right. January 11th. Holy crap! Did I mention that’s only about 3 weeks away? I’ve been soaking up the music but I’ve only sat down and truly studied a few movements, trying to imprint both the notes and the text in my brain. Time to step it up!