Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day 3 Worship Conference 2017: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!


Missed the Day 2 recap? Read it HERE!

If you did not get to watch the Festival Concert that I will be discussing in this post, you can click here and watch it!

I can remember specific things from previous Worship Conferences that caused hiccups in various places. The lines for the cafeteria were too long. People were parking in odd areas because they didn't know where to go. Places were just too far away!

It was clear when we showed up this week that changes were put in motion. I noticed them right away, and was very pleased!

Security

First of all, there was a lot of Carthage security members and other staff around the campus during the busiest check-in times today. If anyone was driving around confused, they directed them to the correct place.

Mobility

Yesterday, I witnessed the unloading of six (six!) golf carts specifically for the conference. Last time I remember at least two, one in particular commandeered by Worship Conference Committee alum Mary Prange. She still has one this time, but five others are tooling around campus ready to transport people from place to place if their feet are just too tired. I saw lots of people taking advantage of it, and I hope more do.

Food

It is hard to narrow down the cafeteria line, but they have brought in several modifications that have really helped. Last conference they started to do a second location for lunch. It wasn't as extensive as the cafeteria's food selection, but if people were sick of the giant crowds and wanted to eat by the lake or in their room or just a different location, they could.

I ate the boxed lunch last time and it was delicious! I am planning on doing the alternative meal a couple of times this week.

Salad?

Yes, salad.

Some people would go to the cafeteria just because they could get a nice salad. Yes, Carthage provided a very good salad bar. The problem was that everyone wanted a salad, so the line was gigantic!

This had been a huge problem for as far back as Worship Conference existed. I was actually eating a salad every meal early in the week because I was anticipating the large line!

Dr. Moldenhauer showing how his expectations for
the concert were growing with each rehearsal!
To my surprise, they found a way to fix it! They brought in a second table laden with the standard salad items. Such an easy fix, and everyone gets salad, and everyone is happy.

Now On to the Music!

We had fewer practices today, and in the morning focused on little tiny parts. We also fixed the first song's issue of where people were going to stand, since it opened with a "small" group (of 24 singers) singing, followed by the rest of the choir. We were all going to be in front, and the small group would be wedged in the middle. But Witte came up with an idea overnight that put the non-small group singers in the three aisles around the chapel while the small group took the front. We had to practice that.

In our chapel rehearsals we went through songs from start to finish. We did a few small changes, but by that time things are pretty set in stone and it would take a lot of time to change stuff. 

After our final rehearsal the conference was really getting under way. Many people were checking in, bringing in their suitcases, and saying hello to old friends. 

For those people who were early, three concerts were offered. The first at 2:30 was the Brass and Organ recital, featuring thirteen very gifted brass players, a great percussionist, their talented director Matt Schlomer, and amazing organist Craig Hirschmann. They played stuff that is difficult but just gorgeous when done right. Pieces ranged from Samuel Barber's "Mutations from Bach" to Oliver Holden's "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." My favorite was Dan Marvin's arrangement of "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing."

I only heard snippets of the two 4:15 recitals, but everyone should hear both these groups at least once. The first was Bethel Balge and Friends, which was piano and strings. Balge plays the piano like she's just breathing! Her strings were Lydia Metzger on violin, Rachel Gries on viola, and Betsy Husby on cello. They are all excellent in their respective craft! I got to hear them perform Beethoven's "Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Major." 

Canticum Novum was the other concert at that time, let by Jon Laabs, who will be working at Martin Luther College in the fall - that shows how awesome he is! Canticum Novum is a WELS select choral group featuring some of the top singers the WELS has to offer. I heard them sing "O Day Full of Grace" by F. Melius Christiansen and it was gorgeous. 

I wish I had more time to listen to the concerts, but I had to eat dinner and get ready for my evening full of stuff! My brothers and I ate together, and we witnessed the transformation of the cafeteria to "pre-conference" to "CONFERENCE MADNESS." We saw the members of the Children's Choir come in, as well as the people that had been attending the recitals, come in as we were heading out. It was a giant jumble of people! 

I escaped and made it back to my room. Concert attire for Festival Choir participants was black bottoms and white tops, so my keyboard t-shirt wasn't going to cut it. 

Before the Festival Choir, however, I had rehearsal for my other choir! Each service has its own choir, and people who sign up are split into one of the choirs. My brother Jared and I were in the choir for All Saints' Day, my older brother Matt was in the choir for the Service of Confession and Absolution, and my mom was put in the descant group for the Reformation service. We all split up and went to our group rehearsals. 

My group is actually singing six pieces! We didn't get these ahead of time like the Festival Choir pieces, so everything is brand new for pretty much everyone. Fortunately our director, Kate Tiefel, has a ton of experience (she directed the Festival Choir in 2014) and we rolled through pieces taking her well-placed advice with us as we sang.

I had to get out early - as did many of the black-bottom, white-top choir participants - because we had a 7:30 call time with the Festival Choir! We ended up meeting outside for some warmups and notes because it was so gorgeous! Last week it sounded like it was going to be in the 90s on this night, but we were experiencing 60-degree temperatures and a light breeze, and it was perfect. 

The concert was live-streamed, and I was tickled to see so many of my friends and family taking advantage of it! I think much of the concert transferred nicely onto the stream. 

Singing as a member of the choir, I enjoyed myself a lot. The Bach cantata went very well considering how many headaches it caused choir members before our official rehearsals started! We premiered John Behnke's "Lord Keep Us Steadfast In Your Word" because it had been commissioned for the conference. We found out before the concert that Behnke was actually in attendance to hear it! 

We really worked our tails off to perform Jeremy Bakken's "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" and we were rewarded greatly. Although short, Handel's "Since By Man Came Death" was a lot of fun to sing. 

My favorites were all at the end of the concert. We performed Slovenian composer Rok Golob's "Alelujah" that has some crazy chords in it! It has so many style changes in it, but it all comes together beautifully. 

A piece that flew under my radar through most of the practice time was Mark Hayes' arrangement of "O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing." I think Witte did a great job getting us to perform it, and the more we put into it, the more I liked it! (I may be biased - the second sopranos had a great ending to the piece!)

Finally, we have Dan Forrest's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Yes, it was "A Mighty Fortress" for the third time that day, but this is by far the best version I've ever heard. (If you haven't listened to Dan Forrest music yet, it's time to get on the train. Look him up!) It was a stellar way to end the concert. 

Was it perfect? No - I heard slipups here and there and I messed up a few times myself. But when I listened to it on the live stream I was reminded of how large the sections were. Sometimes I was just thinking about the seven or eight singers around me that I forgot there were twenty more or so singing my part, too. It meant that if someone did have a problem, many people were there to cover it up. 

And remember how I mentioned my challenge to sing second soprano for this concert? I loved it! My voice was definitely prepared for the soprano range, and I was hitting high As very comfortably. 

Now we get into the meat and potatoes of Worship Conference. Opening Service is tomorrow morning, and we start doing sectionals and shopping since the exhibitors have opened their doors! (I'm actually really excited to shop!)

Thanks for reading! Check back tomorrow for the recap of my Day 4!

BINGO Card update: 3 new ones, and I got BINGO! In two rows!

Actually, when I was coming down from the cafeteria I ran into my former teacher, Miss Geiger. Instead of saying, "Hello!" I yelled, "BINGO!!"
I'm sure she thought that was a little weird. Then again, she had me for grades 3-5, so she probably just thinks that's me being me. 

Read about Day 4 HERE!

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