Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The joys and challenges of music rehearsal

written by Billie Wildrick (Paquette in CANDIDE)

When someone is trying to calm you down and they say “go to your happy place," most people go to a tropical beach or a mountain vista or a cabin by the fire. I go to music rehearsal. I love music rehearsal more than maybe any other part of my job. And I love it most especially with The 5th’s own spectacular Ian Eisendrath (On the Town) and the wonderful Joel Fram (Candide). And it’s not because they’re mellow, gooey and kind. (Joel introduces himself at a meet and greet as Music Dictator.) But rather, it’s because they both work incredibly hard and in great detail on the score, and they expect the same investment from their singers. It is transcendent, the musicality specificity of emotional intention can bring to a score. The audience probably doesn’t know how much they have a musical director to thank when they can hear and understand every lyric in a show – how much a crisp, snotty “k” at the end of a word can provide in story telling.

Here is a copy of my music for the very last 12 bars of Candide – 12 bars out of a 300 page score.

Every circle and highlight and dynamic marking must be memorized along with the lyrics, notes and rhythms. And I’m sure there will be a few more marks before opening night. But that depth of technical precision and emotional investment is what makes it thrilling to the ear and the heart. Ian Eisendrath’s stirring work on “Sunday” in Sunday in the Park with George is another great example of this.

It’s such hard, detailed work requiring skill, practice and lots of focus. But for a singer who has strived and studied to speak the language of song, it’s like a student who fiercely loves and studies French getting to go live in Paris. Someone recently asked me what my favorite part of theatre is. Music rehearsal, and scene work for that matter, is better than applause and lights and costumes and a well-landed laugh. And I think that falling in love with the work and not the feedback or perceived “glamour” is what makes my life in the theatre so wonderful and satisfying. I’m a lucky girl!

Special blog offer for Candide still available. Details here.


kimcroft said...

Billie -

My wife and I don't get to the theater as often as we'd like, but it seems you've been in most of the shows we have seen - Wonderful Town, Sunday in the Park, and One the Town.

It's obvious you've had this type of intensive preparation - it shows! It's such a pleasure to hear such wonderful music actually sung and not "belted."

Many, many thanks! And we are so looking forward to Candide!

pianofemme said...

"Garden Grow" is a sure-fire sob inducer for me, one of maybe three pieces of music that bring deep emotion spurting out my tear ducts.
I'm so happy you chose this bit for your show 'n tell on music rehearsal. Have a wonderful time singing this piece.

Geraldine said...

It's so nice to hear nice things said about music directors! I wrote a post ( on what it takes to be a great music director, and it sounds like your music directors are the perfect example of filling in all the requirements!