Uncategorized

Conductor Vacancy (maternity cover)

Salary

£75 per rehearsal, which includes preparation time, with a bonus for concerts.

Job description:

LVM is seeking to appoint an experienced, friendly choral conductor, who can provide cover for our Musical Director while she is on maternity leave. This is an opportunity to deputise regularly for us from October until January/February 2022 (and potentially longer into Spring/Summer 2022).

About Leeds Vocal Movement:

Leeds Vocal Movement (LVM) is an un-auditioned SATB choir based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Our choir aims to bridge the gap between youth choirs and choral societies, and we provide musical opportunities for young adults between the ages of 18 and 35. We are a fun, educational and social choir of approximately 40 singers (though we are currently only able to host 30 for socially-dustanced rehearsals), who perform music spanning a range of genres, including contemporary, classical, jazz, sacred and traditional music. Focusing on inclusive musical education, our Musical Director Caitlin Mayall uses the Kodály Method to help our members develop their ability to pitch, sight-read and improve tuning.


The choir rehearses every Wednesday evening during school term time, from 7.15-9.15pm in Leeds City Centre. We usually hold biannual concerts in December and June, as well as taking part in an annual collaborative event with local music groups. Previous collaborations have included concerts with Bradford Festival Choral Society, Phoenix Concert Band, and several choirs at the Left Bank Choir Festival. We also do an annual Christmas busk for charity and have released online videos throughout the pandemic.

Duties and responsibilities: 

  • Plan rehearsals and rehearse the choir on an ad hoc basis
  • Deliver fun, engaging warm-ups at the beginning of each rehearsal
  • Lead sectionals (usually upper or lower voices)
  • Work collaboratively with our piano accompanist
  • Prepare music prior to rehearsals
  • Liaise with the Musical Director before and after the maternity leave to ensure a successful hand over e.g. to provide feedback and suggestions for next musical steps
  • Communicate effectively with the Choir committee

Person specification

LVM is a unique choir in that it is made up of singers of all abilities, from those with very little musical experience, to confident sight-readers with years of professional training. As such, we are seeking to appoint a Conductor who:

  • Have excellent knowledge of, and passion for, choral music
  • Are a trained singer who can model musical phrasing
  • Have experience in conducting choirs and planning rehearsals
  • Can direct our choir in a personable, dynamic, and most importantly fun style
  • Understands the importance of accessibity and inclusiveness in musical education
  • Are highly reliable and good communicators
  • Can confidently use a tuning fork or pitch pipe to give notes
  • Are available on Wednesday evenings and able to travel to/from Leeds city centre

Recruitment Process

Please send through a CV outlining your experience relative to the choir and the personal specification with a short statement about why you are interested in Leeds Vocal Movement, via either:

A written document – two pages maximum, or;

A short video – 5 minutes maximum

Please submit all applications to manager@leedsvocalmovement.co.uk. 
Please send through applications by Friday 3 September 2021.
We will let you know by Wednesday 8 September 2021 whether we would like to ask you to attend a mock rehearsal followed by a short interview on Wednesday 22 September 2021.

Uncategorized

Virtual Workshops : Artist Brief

Leeds Vocal Movement are looking for talented musical professionals to work alongside our choir and create engaging virtual workshops which give our community the opportunity to learn more about choral music. 

This year we have funding available to create three bespoke virtual workshops. 

What are we looking for?

We love working with anyone who is as passionate about choral music (of any genre) as we are! We welcome proposals for any type of workshop you would like to run, as long as it fits into our model:

  • A live session of between one and two hours, led on a virtual platform, allowing our members and the public to learn directly from you. This session should be structured to include some content which we can record and retain to share with our members in the future.
  • Creation of any supporting materials for your workshop, including any recordings or backing tracks (we have excellent contacts who can collaborate on this area)

While we are open to any suggestion, we are particularly keen to host a workshop on music-reading for singing, and any genre-specific workshops. 

What will you get out of it?

It’s a paid gig, and we have provisionally set aside £350 for the creation and delivery of the session, with an additional £200 for post-production. We can negotiate within these bounds if you are interested in both delivering and editing the session yourself. 

We have a budget set aside for marketing and promotion, and you will be referenced on all our outreach materials as well as our website. We have a membership of over 50 paying members, and typically advertise to between 300 and 500 young musicians in the Leeds area.

You also get a lot of support when working with Leeds Vocal Movement, both from our dedicated committee and from our network of local professionals. If you haven’t led a workshop session of this type before, don’t be put off getting in touch – there is a lot we give back to our collaborators!

Who are we?

Leeds Vocal Movement is an unauditioned choir that aims to offer high quality musical opportunities for adults between 18 and 35; by targeting this age group, we bridge the gap between youth choirs and choral societies.

Our objectives are to advance the musical education of people aged between 18 and 35, and to advance and improve public engagement of choral music. These objectives are reflected in our activities; we provide musical education to our members through weekly rehearsals, in which we teach musicianship through a range of techniques, including the Kodaly method. Our projects are also aimed at improving musical education; we hold regular workshops in sight-reading and choral techniques, and our internship programme provides skills to early-career musicians, and improves the choir’s training. We have improved our public engagement through concerts, public performances and collaborations with the local arts scene, and free open rehearsals and choral workshops. 

Who’ve we worked with before?

Our workshops have included Neil Balfour (Sing for Pleasure Master Conductor), on vocal techniques and applying them to music, Katy Cooper (Chapel Music Director, Glasgow University) on choral conducting, and Anna Weister Andersson (choral expert) on the genre of gospel music.

All sounds great…how do I apply?

If you like what you’re reading and think you have a workshop that is right for Leeds Vocal Movement, then please get in touch with us by emailing your proposal to manager@leedsvocalmovement.co.uk. In your proposal please include:

  • A short personal introduction, including any qualifications and relevant experience
  • An overview of your proposed session
  • Any supporting materials you intend to create or have created for the session

Please limit proposals to a maximum of two pages.

The deadline for submitting proposals is Tuesday 31st August at 11:59PM

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Uncategorized

Seal Lullaby – Eric Whitacre

Leeds Virtual Movement’s rendition of Eric Whitacre’s “Seal Lullaby”

Uncategorized

In-Person Rehearsals Update (Last Updated 27th August 2021)

Good news! From September 2021 we hope to finally kick start our in-person rehearsals again!

It’s been a long hard year but with things starting to open up again we are optimistic we’ll soon be able to welcome you all back to in-person rehearsals.

Unfortunately due to limited capacity in our rehearsal space and in line with social distancing guidelines we are unable to invite new prospective members to our next open rehearsal and have had to close our waiting list for now. Please keep an eye here or on our social media accounts to keep up to date when we’ll next be recruiting. Our next open rehearsal is likely to be in January 2022.

If you’re a current or returning member, watch this space or keep an eye on your emails for more information about what we’re planning.

It’s going to be amazing getting back into the swing of things and we’re looking forward to welcoming you all back again soon!

joining the choir, Uncategorized

What is Kodaly anyway?

Information in this blog post has been taken from the official Kodaly Academy website. To find out more about the Kodaly Approach, please visit www.kodaly.org.uk

Kodály training develops musicianship through singing. The student engages in the most direct of musical responses without the technical demands of an instrument. This practical approach combined with a clear progression from the simple to the complex facilitates the development of excellent musicianship skills such as sight singing and keen pitch discrimination, as well as high levels of musical literacy. Kodály training is suitable for all ages and stages and can be applied to all kinds of music from classical to world music and jazz.

“Music belongs to everybody”

The educational work of Zoltán Kodály was driven by his overriding belief that “music belongs to everybody”; that active participation in music-making develops a person on all levels and that best approach is through the instrument accessible to all – the human voice.

His ideas evolved into a philosophy of music education based on the way that children learn most naturally: through singing games, fun and play. Through his vitality and research, and the work of his colleagues and students, a sequential and progressive approach to teaching music was implemented in schools throughout Hungary based on an integration of the best practices observed throughout Europe.

Kodály believed that music education should begin as early as possible, that highly trained teachers were essential, especially in the early years, and that the rhymes and songs used should be of the best quality starting with familiar children’s songs and simple mother-tongue folk songs.

The 21st century sees Kodály’s principles at the heart of music education in many countries throughout the world, adapted whilst remaining true to the core tenets of the concept. It is a complete and comprehensive approach that covers every requirement of the music curriculum – and so much more!

“A well-trained ear, a well-trained mind, a well trained heart and well-trained fingers”

http://kodaly.org.uk/about-us/kodaly-approach/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0qFMkpXd2o

This video comes from the channel L – tiz on YouTube and gives us an insight into how Kodaly can be used to teach music to a group.

internship, Uncategorized

Katie McKinnon – Apprentice Conductor 2018/19

Katie was our apprentice conductor for 2018/2019. It was so nice to have her in the LVM community; she has a big personality and puts a lot of herself into the music she conducts. When she left she wrote us a letter highlighting her favourite parts of the year which you can read below. It was an absolute pleasure to have her on board and we wish her all the best in the future!

Dear Leeds Vocal Movement, 

I want to let you know how much I appreciated the opportunity to be your apprentice conductor last year through this wee blog post, and let you know some of my favourite things about LVM.

My favourite musical moment in LVM was conducting Northern Lights by Ola Gjello in the Christmas Concert 2018. I never saw myself as a “classical” conductor because most of my conducting experience before LVM was with popular, music theatre or a capella music. However when Caitlin asked me to choose which pieces I would like to conduct for the Christmas concert I was drawn to Northern Lights. The piece was inspired by Aurora Borealis (the northern lights) and is performed in Norwegian. Conducting this piece was difficult in terms of my conducting technique, there are several time signature changes and pauses and lots of dynamics, but by working with Caitlin in individual lessons and the choir member’s excellent musicality we pulled it off magnificently. I had lots of wonderful feedback from audience members. Northern Lights sounds like winter without sounding like Christmas and I appreciated the contrast with the other piece I conducted – Let it Snow – which sounds wonderfully like roast reindeer with a side of mistletoe. 

One of the biggest highlights of being a member of Leeds Vocal Movement is the social side – I was greeted with open arms by LVM and have made life-long friends (they helped me discover ale – I’m now a big fan). There are so many interesting people to meet out there, and us millennials can feel lonely and find it difficult to meet new people and make friends, but with LVM everyone is accepted and has a place. For example: I broke my ankle in January and only missed two rehearsals because choir members helped me get in and around Leeds in my wheelchair/crutches (big shout out to Dan – you are so kind and I miss our car chats! #folkislife). 

I was sad to leave LVM this year because of all the connections I had made and how much my artistry had grown and blossomed, but I got a dream job, so I moved to Essex. I am now the Learning and Participation Coordinator for a large concert hall called Saffron Hall. We have so many interesting musicians that visit, including Britten Sinfonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and The Sixteen just to name a few.  LVM set me in good stead for full-time work, through things like: regular meetings with Rosa, having to manage my own schedule, a formal but friendly application and interview process, and learning to communicate with lots of different people. I really enjoyed my time with LVM and learning new skills from Caitlin and although I’m not conducting at the moment, I am still singing, I have a job that I love, and I’m pretty proud of myself. 

Thanks for the laughs, miss you all.

Katie XOXO

joining the choir, SATB choir, Uncategorized

All About That Bass: Life in LVM by Alex White

Having previously sung in a choir and barbershop during my school years, it wasn’t until after university that I decided to pick up singing again. After a quick ‘google search’ for choirs in Leeds I found Leeds Vocal Movement and decided to inquire and maybe give it a shot.

Rosa was very welcoming and after one rehearsal I was hooked! And after sticking with it, to this day we have covered multiple genres and emotive music led by our very enthusiastic conductor Caitlin.

Leeds Vocal Movement singing led by Caitlin

Personally I think it is great to do some midweek singing and get rid of the stresses of the day. I always feel more refreshed the next day. It runs like any society would at university with multiple socials throughout the year and the pub after rehearsal. Can safely say it is worth it!

Uncategorized

Musings of a Conductor’s Apprentice by Gregory Moor

I have never considered myself to be a singer, but have always enjoyed performing and being involved in music in any way I can. My first instrument is the flute, which I took to grade 8, but I’ve always felt it to be a solo instrument so I then moved to the trumpet. I took this as far as grade 3 and officially stopped lessons as a result of family circumstances, but I loved how loud the trumpet was compared to the flute. It was also my way in to the local concert bands and ignited my passion for community. I studied music at university and there I picked up the French horn. I was always eager to be involved in bands and orchestras, so when the opportunity came to start conducting I couldn’t wait! I became conductor of the Leeds University Union Music Society (LUUMS) Concert Band and studied conducting under the guidance of Eduardo Portal.

After graduating, conducting opportunities came few and far between, so when I saw the advert to conduct Leeds Vocal Movement I got an application in as soon as I could. Looking into them, they appeared to have a great community built around singing in a relaxed environment which really appealed to me. I found out after the audition that I wasn’t going to be leading the choir and that was fine by me, I’ve never considered myself to be a singer after all. Months later, I got a call asking if I wanted to try a new role for LVM as apprentice conductor.

When I first arrived, the role was very much in its infancy. There were ideas for how the role would look, but as I was to be the first to fill the role I got to find out what worked and similarly what didn’t. Since I’d never had much experience with singing, I wasn’t particularly comfortable warming up voices, so I was very glad to have more of a back seat and learn techniques from Caitlin in more of a participatory manner. The Kodaly method Caitlin uses to warm LVM up is perfect as it encourages the singers to learn the fundamentals of music theory practically. The effects of this were really noticeable when taking sectionals since it took much less time to learn new pieces towards the end of the year.

It has been a wonderful experience working with LVM and I feel I’ve really learnt a lot about rehearsing singers and a choir efficiently and effectively, and I’m glad to have learnt this in such an encouraging environment too! I got to conduct a few performances in the last concert, but I would say the most enjoyable and most rewarding part of the role was seeing the choir grow musically – it’s really encouraging as a conductor to see the musicians grow in confidence and musicianship together. It’s really helped my musicianship personally, and most importantly I now consider myself to be a singer. I am sad to be leaving this position, but strongly believe the choir is going from strength to strength.

Uncategorized

Vacancy – Piano Accompanist

Looking for choral accompaniment experience with a established and expanding local choir? Look no further – Leeds Vocal Movement is recruiting!

We are currently accepting applications for a Piano Accompanist. This is now a paid position for a budding professional pianist, to join us from September 2018 to July 2019.

We are looking for a well-organised musician with a keen focus on improving their accompanying skills and willingness to commit to the development of the choir. LVM’s mission is to improve musical education and create community through choral singing, and we need an accompanist who can internalise and apply those values in the role.

To find out more about LVM’s aims and operations, please visit our ‘About Us’ page. 

The candidate must be a University of Leeds student with Grade 8 Piano, preferably a first-study pianist.

To apply for the position, please download our application pack.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Tuesday 21st August 2018.

Interviews will be held on Thursday 30th August 2018.

If you have any questions about about the choir or the position, please contact Caitlin (Musical Director) or Rosa (Choir Manager) via email: leedsvocalmovement@gmail.com

Librarian's corner, Uncategorized

Librarian’s Corner: Shenandoah

About Librarian’s Corner:

Leeds Vocal Movement loves to sing music from a wide range of genres, and my aim is to better understand what we are singing. This blog adds some context and analysis to the notes on the page, for the benefit of members and listeners alike!

Shenandoah – traditional (arr. James Erb)

Shenandoah is widely regarded as one of America’s most popular and well-recognised folk songs.[1] Folk songs are known to be fluid in origin and meaning, and this one is no different; however, where its lyrics and melody have shifted, its connotations of heartache for a person or place have remained a staple of its character.

Shenandoah’s roots

The first mention of Shenandoah was said to be in the early 1800s. Some scholars have suggested that the song originally referred to the life of legendary mountaineer and trapper Jim Bridger, while others have traced its roots back to slave workers, akin to African spirituals.[2] However, it is most widely accepted that the song came from the American and Canadian fur traders; the Canadian fur traders, known as voyeurs, were well known for their singing, and songs such as Shenandoah floated down trade routes like the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The song was eventually picked up by other boatmen and sailors throughout the 19th century, and became a sea shanty sung across the world.[3]

Although many attribute Shenandoah to a place or river, is widely regarded that the song’s title originally referred to the Oneida chief, John Shenandoah. Shenandoah was well celebrated in American history; he co-founded what is now known as Hamilton College in New York, and supported the colonials in the Seven Years War and American Revolutionary War.[4] In addition, he is said to be the namesake of the Shenandoah River and Valley in West Virginia.[5]

A song of longing

As is traditional for folk songs, Shenandoah has many different versions of its lyrics; earlier versions of the song depict the singer as a boatman, who is in love with Shenandoah’s daughter, Sally:

“O, Shenandoah, I love your daughter,

Away you rolling river.

I’ll take her ‘cross yon rolling water.”

Ah-ha, I’m bound away, ‘Cross the wide Missouri.[6]

However, more recent versions of the song, including James Erb’s arrangement, have removed the love story from the lyrics. Without this romantic narrative, the singer seems to direct their focus simply towards ‘Shenandoah’:

Oh Shenandoah,

I long to see you,

Away you rolling river.

Oh Shenandoah,

I long to see you,

Away, I’m bound away

‘Cross the wide Missouri.[7]

As Shenandoah is more commonly known as a place than a person, many have interpreted the lyrics to be yearning for the Shenandoah River or Valley, or used it as a metaphor for a familiar place. David Cheal notes that, while object of yearning open to interpretation, the idea of missing that object is still prevalent:

“Some versions…seem to be more about longing for a place than for a person. It’s a leaving song.”[8]

Erb’s rolling river

There are many choral arrangements of Shenandoah, but James Erb’s arrangement stands out as an homage to the boatmen that sang it, and the rivers that carried it. This is evident from the piece’s first two verses; the first verse is sung with the upper voices, and the second with the lower voices. The distance between these ranges mirrors the distance between the singer and the object of their longing, unable to bridge the gap between them.

Erb’s use of harmony and texture reflects the idea of hearing a song echoing down a river; the piece starts with the melody in unison and doesn’t introduce harmony until the third verse. It then ends with a gradual diminuendo, as each voice part eventually lands on the same sustained note. The slowly growing and thinning harmony imitates the way in which a listener would hear the song, drifting in and out of earshot as it passes them.

The texture in the middle verses seem to portray the movement of the river itself. The top melody floats above the steady harmonies in the lower parts, and later the three higher vocal parts sing the melody and harmony with staggered entrances. Together with the arching motifs and suspensions in the melody, the rippling waves of the “rolling river” can be distinctly heard in the piece, rising and breaking above the strong undercurrent of the sustained notes in the lower voices.

With these aspects in mind, the detail in the structure and dynamics of Erb’s arrangement can be interpreted to reflect the setting in which the song was first popularised: a bittersweet melody floating gently down a river.

Shenandoah today

Shenandoah has been a popular American folksong from the late 19th century, particularly as a favourite in public schools.[9]  The earliest recordings date back to the 1930s by singers such as Paul Robeson, and later sung by folk artists including Bob Dylan, The Corries and Jayne Stone. Shenandoah has also exceeded its folk genre, through numerous performances and recordings by singers such as Bing Crosby, Hayley Westenra and Keith Richards.[10]

The piece is also a choir favourite, with many choral versions of Shenandoah sung on an international scale. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir[11] and Voces8[12] are among the most recent choirs to record the folksong, continuing to immortalise its somewhat haunting melody in a range of different arrangements. However its origins and lyrics are interpreted, Shenandoah is sure to remain a beloved part of American folk music for generations to come.

Written by Rosa Stevens – Choir Manager and Librarian

Reference list

[1] https://www.loc.gov/creativity/hampson/about_shenandoah.html

[2] Cheal, David. 2017. ‘Shenandoah — a song steeped in history and mystery’. Financial Times. Available here.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Shenandoah

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skenandoa

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skenandoa

[6] Ships, Sea Songs and Shanties. Collected by W. B. Whall, Master Mariner. First Edition 1910, Glasgow; Third Edition, 1913. Available here.

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Shenandoah#cite_note-whall-1

[8] Cheal, 2017.

[9]W. B. Whall, 1913.

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Shenandoah

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GtwNJf3EK4

[12] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8xbY9Iyxpo

Feature image source: https://bit.ly/2l2DXtl