Saturday, October 14, 2006

Rehearsal at the Meyerson

The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center was opened in September of 1989 and has been hailed as one of the world foremost concert halls. "The Meyerson" as it is called is home for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Turtle Creek Chorale, the Dallas Wind Symphony, and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra. It was designed by the celebrated architect I. M. Pei, who has designed everything from airports to the new entrance to the Louvre in Paris.

According to its website, the Meyerson has:

• 260,000 square feet above ground space
• 225,000 square feet below ground space
• 30,000 square feet of Italian travertine marble
• 22,000 pieces of Indiana limestone
• 4,535 organ pipes
• 2,062 seats
• 918 square panels of African (Makore) cherrywood
• 216 square panels of American cherrywood
• 211 glass panels (no two alike) comprising the conoid windows
• 85 foot high ceiling in the concert hall
• 74 concrete reverberation chamber doors, each weighing as much as 2.5 tons
• 56 acoustical curtains
• 50 restrooms

As the stage was set up for John Tesch (to the roll of everyone’s eyes) we first had to meet in the choral rehearsal hall deep in the bowels of the building.

Dr Tim Seelig, for 20 years the TCC music director, is a hoot. Out, somewhat flamboyant and with a needle sharp wit (and evil eye), he is a master communicator. I learned so much from the 3 hours he spent with us in KC and the 3 hour Master Class he gave on Sat. "Sing 'tits up', he would exclaim, "that allows you to show off what a stud you are and also, and more important to me, allows you to support the column of air needed to support your note." Earthy, yes, brilliant, even more so. He demonstrated how we could make and support a cleaner, more even and on-pitch sound. The difference was amazing. Singing is all about how you breathe. Tits up, chin down, lets the air move and allows you to support it. If you were not in that position, you'd get that cutting evil eye. But always a smile lurking behind it.

We finally got to get in the main hall. A huge horseshoe shaped hall, stage not overly large and a nice choral terrace above. As John Tesch's junk was still on stage, we could not use the stage so we were part in the terrace part in the audience seats. Not the best situation, but what could you do, it was John Tesh for god's sake.

The sound of 300 men singing is breathtaking. I am prejudiced I know, but I would listen to a male choir all day rather than a female one. Men have a huge range of voices, and a thrilling sound. It sent chills up my spine.

Our main purpose was to sing "When We No Longer Touch: A Cycle of Songs for Survival". TCC commissioned the work in 1991 from their late composer-in-residence, Kristopher Jon Anthony, who died of AIDS in 1992.

The piece touches on grief, despair, regret, denial and anger, and also hope, acceptance and salvation. The mediations on the stages of grief are interwoven with the text of the Latin Requiem. One movement especially, "I Shall Miss Loving You," has become a staple of gay men's choruses around the world.

I was overwhelmed. The sound was exceptional, even with John Tesch's piano separating us. Seelig was so inspirational.

"Grab your nuts!", he yelled. We looked stunned. "Damnit, sing like you have them", he said of the Dies Irae movement, "I want the audience to piss their pants in fear. This is the day of wrath and death and calamity, not the "Dies Ehhhh", as he shook his hand in a whishy-washy gesture. We scared them for sure.

We got to go thru the piece, each of us did one piece of our set and then it was time for Texas BBQ.

The TCC set up a nice BBQ for all of us and we had a grand time. The TCC members were so friendly, so glad we were here and made sure we all were treated like royalty. A comedian performed a great routine to top the evening off.

M and I went to meet some friends of his at a nice piano bar. It was a nice quiet end to a strenuous day. Most of the HMC boys were out partying hard at the big noisy bars. I can't do that anymore. This was fine with me.

Tomorrow: The Final Chapter, When We No Longer Touch

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