Mice, you say? Do they? Do they really????
Judge for yourself.
I sent this as an email first
Sometimes I have sent out three versions of this, one to each group (Portland Oblast, Belfast and Ellsworth) but this time just one email to all. Please forward this to any interested parties including singers you know or anybody who wishes to contribute to the cause of peace in Ukraine using their voice and heart.
I think we have made excellent progress in the few weeks we have started to rehearse. Lots of enthusiasm and also a sense of focus which has been enjoyable. We have had weather challenges (and I am sure we will again). And we are still hoping to find more singers. So, you are invited to tell your friends about this and bring them along. At some point we will get all three groups together in one location (maybe on a saturday?) and work on the arrangements of the tunes, not just the singing of them. I don’t have a date for that all-groups meeting though.
This week’s plan is:
Tuesday Jan 31st at 6 PM in Belfast, at 17 Court st, for the Belfast group
Wednesday Feb 1st at 6:30 PM at Linden Lea in Pownal, for the Portland Oblast group. detailed directions to Linden Lea are to be found here: https://wp.me/p2mf8z-FJ
Wednesday at 6 PM at the Saint Andrews Lutheran Church in Ellsworth, at 6 pm, for the singers from the “Mother Ship” – Hancock County and beyond.
Thursday at 6 PM in Hope Maine for The Huddled Masses Orchestra.
The song list
I will be editing what is on the YouTube playlist to reflect what Anne and Sarah and I have been thinking.
What we have sung so far depends on each group, they are not all in sync (they don’t need to be, yet).
Mnohaja Lita – this is the “for he’s a jolly good fellow” of Ukraine
Oi I Luzi Chervona Kralyna” – this is the rousing call to action. we’re getting there on the pronunciation. We’ve really only focused on the first verse though
this one is simpler than it seems, inasmuch as each verse of four lines is subdivided into 2-and-2. We plan to assign the first half of each to different soloists ( as on the Spooky Men’s Choir version). Be thinking as to whether you wish to be one of the soloists.
O Khodyt’ Son, Kolo Vikon – the lullaby
this one has sounded magical in the two subgroups that have tried it so far.
for this one, the Belfast group had some discussion as to the best key to sing it in. This was an example of the folk process; we don’t need to make each tune sound like the record we learned it from, there is artistic license involved and we can create together to make best use of the voices we have, not the ones we wish we had. The written key is too low for the sopranoes; but when we tried a higher key it was too high for the men in the group ( there are about seven men in the Belfast group). Anne suggested that we simply make it a song for the just the men in the group to sing, which I think is a good idea. I am going to talk to the Low Brass players of the Huddled Masses Orchestra to see about how we can fit in as well.
O Harna –
This is one Sarah suggested and I love the message of the lyrics, as explained at the beginning of the video. We haven’t broken it out yet.
Hey Hey Sokoli –
none of the groups has worked on this one yet. This tune has a long history, and you can find versions of it in every Slavic language. Take a minute to listen to this version if you want to meditate on the folk process. https://twitter.com/SlavaUk30722777/status/1619369212224618496?t=pc2KQ3hABsxVjCKcczSPJQ&s=19 pay attention to the part where the dad reminds them of the tempo change.
Til now the version that has been on the playlist is the one from Pikkardiya Terskye, the men’s choir from Kiev. We think the version that most closely resembles what our choir can do is this version https://youtu.be/10Ha80EgaB0 but some of those verses are in Polish not Ukrainian and we will adjust them. (It’s hard enough to learn Ukrainian pronunciation without also taking on the project of Polish pronunciation). we need to keep the slow verse, by the way…..
though I just said I think learning Polish pronunciation would make things too complicated, I still am lobbying to include Sholem, https://youtu.be/hFMsHAD1qjo which uses Yiddish in the verse. The message of the tune is to promote peace. It’s a great singalong. There is a great cantorial singer here in Maine and I emailed him to join us and lead it but have not heard back. If you haven’t heard that guy sing you are missing out. Odessa Ukraine has been a center of world Judaism for 800 years or more.
There is a world-class balalaika player living on MDI whom I have requested to also do some tunes. see above. More on this later.
The Huddled Masses Orchestra
The H.M. O. will do one or two tunes.
The all-important concert date
Lots of people have asked what the actual concert date will be. The simple answer is, I do not know. The original date of early March was always a “placeholder,” and I knew it was ambitious. I think it more likely we will do the concert in early June. If we try to force ourselves to perform a date before we are all ready and comfortable with the material, we will just create anxiety and a bad vibe, instead of the uplifting payoff of a job well done. Life is too short.
In the meantime if we demonstrate that we are making a grassroots effort, this in and of itself will keep Ukraine in the news which will bolster political support for Ukraine.
Additions and subtraction to the tune list for the proposed concert?
The typical sit-down concert of this type is about an hour or maybe ninety minutes. We have nine tunes on the “reasonable target list.” Is we divide 60 by 9, that allots six and a half minutes per tune, but then you have to add in time between tunes. If I apply that calculation, we already have close to as many as we need, and these would better fit a ninety minute program.
One way to put it in very practical terms, is that we will not be doing endless practice of new tunes. The program is getting delineated and coming into better focus. Keep working away at it!