Rehearsing until it’s right
Whether you want to make music or just passively enjoy it, campus life at LMU offers ample opportunities for both. The University Choir devotes a whole semester to rehearsing the program for its end-of-term concert in the Great Aula.
Singers from Finland, Canada and China are counted among its members. In fact, the University Choir is a world in miniature. Almost 200 students meet every week in the large Lecture Hall in LMU‘s Main Building: Sopranos, mezzo-sopranos and contraltos on the right, tenors, baritones and basses on the left. And all minds are concentrated on a single goal – the Semester Concert in the Great Aula at the end of term. That is why they are here, to get every last detail of the program right.
All of us can sing!
Verena Egger, the Choir’s conductor, takes up her position close to the piano, and leads her charges through their warm-up exercises. Music is a matter of articulation, and although most of the singers have spent most of their day in lectures and seminars or studying in libraries, a succession of whole-hearted consonantal combinations – Zzzzzzzzz, Brrrrrrrrr, Phhhzzzzzz – fills the space. “Everyone in the Choir is highly motivated,” says Vilja Haapanen, who comes from Finland and joined the Choir at the beginning of this semester. “We all love singing – and the standard is very high,” she adds.
That’s not surprising. Aspirants must make a strong impression at auditions, for competition for places in the Choir is stiff. – More than 100 students applied for a place last term, although very few vacancies arise each year. “All of them can sing. In fact, everybody can sing,” says Verena Egger affirms. “Different people mean different things when they say they can’t sing. In most cases, they simply lack the training and the practice needed for reliable control of their vocal cords. Of course, in the end, it is impossible for us to accept everyone who comes for an audition.” The Choir also provides individual voice training sessions for its singers, which gives students the opportunity to make the best use of the particular character and technical possibilities of their vocal apparatus.
Vilja was by no means sure that she would be accepted. “But I was in luck. The audition was not that hard and it was all over in a very short time.” But she is already excited at the thought of the upcoming concert. “I’ve told many of my friends to come and hear us,” she says, “and of course, I wouldn’t want them to be disappointed.”
The concert in the Great Aula will not be the University Choir’s sole public appearance in this semester. In fact, they have finished an international tour, which took them to Russia. Following five days of intensive rehearsals together with the Choir of the Technical University of St. Petersburg, during which they worked on Russian vocal works, they gave two concerts for Russian audiences. “For these concerts we learned Russian repertoire that was completely unfamiliar to us, and of course we included classical German pieces like “Der Mond ist aufgegangen” on our program,” Egger says. “And for our singers it was a great opportunity to perform in a very different setting.”
Northern Lights: Scandinavian Choral Music
Meanwhile rehearsals for the end-of-term concert, which will be given on two evenings in mid-July, are in full swing. The Choir is working on a piece that begins with the words “I Seraillets Have” – a choral setting of a Danish text by the Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammer, which will feature on the program “Northern Lights”. Camilla Ranfelt, a student from Denmark, who is doing her Erasmus year at LMU, gives the necessary tips on how the text should be pronounced. “It was very funny,” she says. “I joined the Choir because I wanted to get to know German students, and I suddenly found myself giving them lessons in how to pronounce Danish words!”
Like Camilla, most of its members discovered the Choir because they enjoy singing, because they wanted to take part in its public concerts and, needless to say, to become acquainted with others who shared these interests. “The University Choir is a singing society,” Egger explains. It even includes married couples who met each other at rehearsals.
The range of Cultural Life at LMU is broad and rich: Whether you like to sing, have mastered an instrument or just like to listen to good music, you will certainly find something to your taste among the wide variety of choirs, orchestras and bands that LMU has to offer.
At 8 PM on July 17th and 18th 2016, the UniversitätsChor München will present its regular end-of-term concert in the Great Aula in LMU’s Main Building. On the program “Northern Lights” is a selection from the rich heritage of choral music from Scandinavia. Singers who are interested in joining the Choir are invited to attend the first rehearsal in the new semester, which takes place on Tuesday October 18th 2016 between 7 and 9.30 PM in the Small Aula (Lecture Hall A 120) in the Main Building, where they can register for an audition.