SoCS: Singing

Singing has been a constant in my life. As a child I sang at school and at church. In high school, I sang in the mixed chorus and in my final year made the Girls’ Ensemble. I could sing, do (simple) choreography, and smile all at the same time! I also was in a few musicals, nearly always in the chorus.

I really learned to be a good choral singer in college. At Smith, I finally learned to sing classical music, everything from Gregorian chant up through newly composed work. Granted, in those days, we sang Western music only. Today, I would probably get to do some world music as well. I also got used to singing in different languages. While I had sang mostly in English, with a bit of Latin, before college, I sang frequently in Latin and German, with some Hebrew and French.

For the past 33 seasons, I have sung with the Binghamton University Chorus, which is a town-gown group, meaning we have students, faculty and staff from the university, and community members participating. Some of our members are in their 80s; I know of at least one who has reached her 90s!

I hope that I will still be singing, if I am blessed enough to reach that age.

As the hymn says, “How can I keep from singing?”
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This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. The prompt this week was to begin the post with a word ending in -ing. Please join us! Find out how here: http://lindaghill.com/2015/10/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-1015/

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Memories of Peter

Last May, our community lost a wonderful friend and musician, Peter Browne. I wrote about here and here.

Now that September is here, we are missing him again. At Binghamton University, Harpur Chorale, which Peter had directed for many years, has begun the semester under the direction of a talented local music teacher who earned her master’s in choral conducting at Binghamton U. a few years ago.

Yesterday, I wound up having an extended conversation about bladder cancer, which what took Peter’s life so unexpectedly.

Today, I put on the car radio in time to hear the last movement of the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony.  I immediately thought of Peter playing this piece with the Binghamton Philharmonic at the Broome County Forum.

All reminders of Peter and how much he is missed.

Binghamton in words and photos

A very interesting take on a trip to Binghamton NY with lots of great photos by Arian Horbovetz.  https://ariandavidphotography.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/binghamton-a-city-of-two-tales/

One slight quibble: The renewed arts scene in downtown Binghamton was not largely the work of the young artists. It was local, established middle-aged and elder artists and gallery owners who started First Fridays and the arts emphasis downtown. The young artists now here are the fruits of those efforts. The downtown renewal they began drew the University Center and housing into the downtown area, which has accelerated the revitalization process and made many new businesses possible.

Soon, one of the old factory buildings will house the Binghamton Hi-Tech Incubator, designed to help new businesses open, building on research from Binghamton University and the area’s traditional strength in technology industries.

Our Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council also has a proposal for further development of the Binghamton/Johnson City/Endicott corridor, if our region wins one of the $500 million grants that the state has offered in the latest competition. Personally, I think the Southern Tier should have been given a grant directly as Buffalo was, but I know our proposal is strong, so hopes are high that we will get an award.

Binghamton Poetry Project – Spring 2015

Tonight is the public reading and anthology distribution for the spring 2015 workshops of the Binghamton Poetry Project (BPP).  This is the fourth time that I have participated in this community endeavor which brings together child, teen, and adult poets for five weekly sessions learning about and writing poetry, facilitated by graduate students from Binghamton University.

The three poems below are my contribution to the anthology. (I read the first two.)

From a prompt about writing about interactions with a parent, I wrote this poem which became a gift to my dad for his 90th birthday:

Hydro Superintendent
– by Joanne Corey

Each weekday, Dad went to his office
on the top floor of the hydroelectric station,
wearing a clip-on tie –
a precaution due to machinery –
with a Reddy Kilowatt pin.

When he was on weekend call,
my sisters and I sat on the wheel wells
in the back of the company jeep –
wearing our hard hats –
jouncing along unpaved roads
to inspect dams, pipelines, reservoirs,
unmanned Deerfield hydro stations.

His work became ours,
generating power.

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From a prompt about a place that we had visited, I wrote this poem about singing in Siracusa, Sicily with the Smith College Alumnae Chorus:

Divinity Listens in Siracusa
– by Joanne Corey

Clad in black,
I stand with the sopranos
behind the orchestra,
Requiem score in hand.
As Mozart echoes,
I know this sacred space –
erected as temple to Athena,
over centuries becoming
temple to Roman Minerva,
Christian church,
mosque,
returning to its current identity
as a Catholic cathedral –
is the most ancient place
in which I will ever sing.

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The last is my first ever attempt at prose poetry, heavily edited and expanded with advice from our instructor Cammy and my poetry critique group:

First poems
 – by Joanne Corey

I wrote my first poems in a black-and-white marble-covered composition notebook in the fifth through eighth grade room in my elementary school. I wrote about the brook which flowed through the four seasons – the autumn hillside through our upstairs classroom windows as a pirate hat spilling gold doubloons – Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito skating to the Stanley Cup for the Bruins – a song to forgotten children who lacked family and home – the death of my grandfather and playing the organ for his Month’s Mind Mass at Saint Joachim’s – my first free verse poems, after Miss Andersen taught us that poems didn’t have to rhyme like Mother Goose and “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” (which we knew by heart for Patriots’ Day recitation) – and on the very first page, in Palmer Method cursive, my hometown tribute to Monroe Bridge, with the closing lines, “There’s only one in the whole USA. That place knows me.”

I wish I still had that notebook to bridge the poemless decades that followed, to rediscover the girl who sluiced inky torrents between faint blue lines on crisp white pages, to remember when a town was a world, to again feel fully known, to recover the voice that went silent when severed from that place.
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Reading for the Binghamton Poetry Project
Reading at the Binghamton Poetry Project

My poems that have appeared in the two prior anthologies can be found here and here. Our summer sessions are more low-key and don’t publish, so while this is my fourth set of session with BPP, it is only the third anthology.  Another fun BPP-related post is my first and so far only attempt at slam poetry.  I leave it to the readers to decide if my poetic skills are improving with time, experience, BPP, and the example and generous assistance of my fellow poets.

SoCS: putting in “put”

My Saturday is going to be busy, so I am writing this Friday night – late after everyone else is in bed.

Ironically, I spent a lot of time today with the word “put.” The Binghamton University Chorus, in which I have sung for 33 seasons, is preparing Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang for our concert in May, but we are singing it in English rather than the original German.

In movement seven, our scores used the following text, “let us gird on the armour of light,” over and over and over. Unfortunately, the word “gird” is very difficult to sing prettily, especially when the notes are high in our ranges, as they are in this movement. So the hunt was on for a different translation that used less difficult sounds.

After comparing several Biblical translations, our director chose to change “let us gird on” to “and put on us” which is easier to sing and to understand from the audience’s perspective.  So, I spent a bunch of time today writing the text change into my score.

I admit that I only wrote it in for the soprano part, which is the part I sing. Fingers crossed that the other parts write their own changes!

The tricky part comes on Monday – when my mind needs to forget the weeks of singing “gird” and put “put” in there instead.

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This is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Join us!  Find the prompt and the rules here:   http://lindaghill.com/2015/03/13/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-1415/

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Paul Goldstaub tribute concert

On January 31st, the Music Department of Binghamton (NY) University presented a concert of Professor Emeritus Paul Goldstaub’s music on the first anniversary of his death. It was wonderful to hear such an eclectic mix of Paul’s music, much of it performed by the musicians who had premiered it.

I found my mind going back to my own studies of theory and composition at Smith. At that time, we began our theory course sequence in a contemporary setting with the study of rhythm, timbre, and melody, before progressing in later semesters to common practice period harmony, counterpoint, and chromatic harmony. The concert opened with a fugue for 3 snare drums, which included some air drumming and left us wishing that we could have seen the score to see how Paul had notated it. The second half of the concert opened with Pastorale II for flute and digital delay, played by Georgetta Maiolo. I loved how it wedded wonderful melodic writing with contemporary technology, with the digital delay taking the place of what would probably have been done by tape in my student days.

I also appreciated that Paul wrote for so many different instruments and combinations. In the concert, there was a piece for trombone and piano and one for marimba and piano. Hindemith came to mind. The concert program included a full list of Goldstaub’s composition, arranged chronologically, which allowed us to appreciate the full scope of his range as a composer.

Paul’s inventiveness as a composer was on fullest display in the excerpts from Every Evening for baritone, a chorus of three sopranos, piano, and percussion duo. Before each movement was sung, the poem was read by Professor Emeritus Martin Bidney, who had translated them from Russian, into which they had been translated from the Spanish folk tradition. The settings that followed had an incredible richness of soundscape, including some pitched speech reminiscent of Sprechstimme, close harmony from the three sopranos, and dialogue between the baritone and varied combinations of the sopranos.

As a member of a chamber chorus drawn from the Binghamton University Chorus, it was my privilege to participate in the final piece on the program, the first movement of Shakespeare Mix, which Paul had written for us in 2002. Accompanied by two pianos and percussion, we sang from Twelfth Night, “If music be the food of love, play on.” As we finished, a photograph of Paul was projected on a screen beside the stage. As the ovation went on, it was good to know that we had all joined together that evening to make sure that Paul Goldstaub’s music does “play on.”

Binghamton Poetry Project

In this post , I wrote about participating in The Binghamton Poetry Project and my first ever slam(ish) poem. This evening, we will have our poetry reading for all the different workshops, children, teens, and two adult groups, and the distribution of our anthology. Yay, publishing credit!

I have three poems in the anthology, but we will only read two poems apiece. I will first read “Moonlight,” because it is the poem that bought me to the Project in the first place.  Last April for National Poetry Month, our local public radio station WSKG had an edition of Bill Jaker’s book-themed show “Off the Page” devoted to local poets, one of whom was Nicole Santalucia, founder of The Binghamton Poetry Project. Nicole is a native of this area and had returned here to pursue a PhD at Binghamton University. She read some of her own poems and talked about starting The Binghamton Poetry Project to give a space for people in the community to learn about and create poetry. Bill Jaker had previously invited listeners to send in their own poems and I had submitted “Moonlight,” which he chose to read on air. I was so excited to hear my poem on the radio, although it was a bit surreal to hear another voice, and a male one at that, read a poem I had written. I decided to look up more info on The Binghamton Poetry Project and join in when I could, which turned out to be this semester’s session in March/April.

I will also read “Constancy,” which I wrote during the workshop, when we were writing from prompts about family relationships, including “Married” by Jack Gilbert. I usually work poems out in my head over the course of hours/days/weeks before writing them down, so writing a poem in twenty minutes from given prompts was a challenge for me. You have to decide on an idea very quickly. I wrote the first draft of “constancy” in the workshop but was too choked up to even consider reading it that evening. I did a bit of work on it over the next week and decided that I should share it with the workshop at the time reserved for that at the beginning of the next meeting. I practiced reading it aloud to myself and then to my other daughter who is at home to make sure I could get through it without breaking down. It was the first poem I read to the group and is the “prior week’s poem” that I refer to in the linked post.

“fingernail” was written in April 2012 and previously appeared in the fall 2012 newsletter of the Samaritan Counseling Center. Given that all three are now considered previously published because of the anthology, I can post them on my blog without having to worry about breaking any publishing precedence rules. So, here are my three poems from the Spring 2014 edition of the journal of The Binghamton Poetry Project.

 

Moonlight
by Joanne Corey

In the narrow valley of youth,
the moon was distant,
as though at perpetual apogee.
Cocooned in darkness,
I slept soundly.

In the broad valley of adulthood,
the moon is close,
casting sharp shadows.
Bathed in eerie light,
I lie awake.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

fingernail
by Joanne Corey

the nail splits
not breaking entirely
but calling attention to itself
every time a sock needs to be pulled up
or a shirt pulled on
or hands need to be dried
after some chore or other

scissors
files
emery boards
only smooth the rough edge

bandages only protect
from tearing further into the quick

the split is still there

a dead nail can’t heal

only growth
makes it possible
to get beyond the split
and restore wholeness

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Constancy
by Joanne Corey

You were eleven,
the child that’s born
on the Sabbath Day,
“Bonny and blithe
And bright and gay.”

Blond and blue-eyed,
Smart and vivacious,
Quick-witted and talented,
With a beautiful soprano voice.

Who knew then that you were always in pain?

No one, not even you,
Who thought this was what
Growing up felt like.

There were the unexplained illnesses,
Mysterious fevers,
The eight month migraine,
But you were twenty-one
Before we finally knew its name.

Fibromyalgia/
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Always in pain.
Always exhausted.

Even when you were singing
Or smiling
Or reading
Or talking around the dinner table.

But I am your mother.
How could I not have known?
It’s the only pain I have
That is a constant.