Today was notable for two things. One: Meredith managed to charm Frank, the owner of the best ice cream store in Greenport—it’s called D’Latte—and showed up at rehearsal with two pints of world-class sorbet and a bag of gluten-free biscotti. The mint-lemon sorbet almost derailed rehearsal, when I had a momentary delusion that I would willingly cancel the concert if I could just keep eating Frank’s dessert unto eternity. I suddenly understood how Odysseus must have felt when he sailed past the Sirens. Meredith promised to go back tomorrow, when Frank made a demi-promise to have chocolate sorbet (my favorite). Jason and the Argonauts countered the Sirens by having Orpheus sing on board their ship; I have my own quartet of Orpheuses, so I shall be saved from rash, dessert-based psychotic breaks.
Two: we realized that—at least when empty—our lovely little hall is very live. If you open up and sing full tilt there, you are (a) deafening, and (b) totally garbled. No matter how hard you work your diction, your resonance will obliterate your consonants. Spit—explode—make a fricative you think they can hear on the South Fork—it’s no use. “A sea maid singgggggs on yonder reefffffffffff,” sings Meredith. From behind the piano, I heard something like “A sea aid siss on yohder ree”—though listeners in the hall picked up the lyric better. (Oddly, when Toby sang the word congregation, I heard “pornication.” But that might be my own aberration.)
In any case, the whole vocal equation had to be adjusted in the big numbers. It was a good discovery to make on the third day of rehearsal. I am pretty sure the hall is going to be packed on Sunday, and I know the acoustic changes radically when it is full. Still, a wake-up call. We are not printing any of the English-language texts and we have to make ourselves understood the old-fashioned way.
The songs themselves continue to grow and expand. I know David Margulis the least well, and he’s a man who takes his time to reveal himself. I prize that quality in him—a proud introvert with a killer high B-flat, an interesting combination of gentle and outspoken, rather more private than most singers—but a true tenor when the occasion demands it. I love the way Dave makes music, I love his leisurely, deep process of finding the core of his songs, I love the smoky charisma of his timbre. Today I also learned that he’s a subtle comedian too—he cracked us all up in a number of Toby’s where he has a walk-on role.
Meredith is our great musical seductress. She cast quite a spell with her ballads today and moved one of our listeners to tears. (Me too.)
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