A large ensemble is a group of musicians (vocal, instrumental, etc) who perform together on a musical piece. Large ensembles have been a part of music history for centuries. Large ensembles can be an orchestra, chorus, jazz ensemble, or wind ensemble, consisting of layers of voices, instruments, or both.
Large ensembles are a huge part of a UNCSA musician’s day to day life. Almost every music student is a part of a large ensemble in one way or another. Each student practices their part to contribute to the overall large ensemble work. The UNCSA large ensembles contain a wide range of ages, from freshmen in high-school, to seniors in college, and even some graduate students. Large ensembles’ beginning can be traced back all the way to the early church, where large vocal ensembles would sing chants to accompany a reading of a bible passage or other such religious activity. Now, in the year 2015, Large Ensembles have become sophisticated and often more complicated, but the idea remains the same: creating one, varied sound as one group. The sound offered up being all the more powerful.
In large ensembles here at UNCSA all our instruments come together to create a strong powerful sound. Each voice or instrument has a smaller part that leads to a bigger picture. For example, in an orchestra you have several different groups of instruments and each instrument plays a role. The lower instruments normally play an accompaniment to the higher instruments or voices that play the melody and different harmonies. Within in each group like the woodwinds, strings, brass, or percussion each instrument plays. Then even within each of those groups different parts are played by even people playing the same instrument.
The sounds we as a group have submitted have special relation to the topic of Large Ensembles because the clips are from our large ensemble rehearsals, specifically Cantata singers and the Orchestra. In the Cantata singers clips you can hear the singers rehearsing Dr. Zullinger’s coachings and the Orchestra’s clips relay a large group of instruments playing pieces from an upcoming performance.
This sound comes from the UNCSA Wind Ensemble rehearsing City Trees by MichaelMarkowski in Watson School Of Music room 167 for our concert on October 7th, 2015 at Steven’s Center in downtown Winston-Salem, NC. This ensemble consists of strictly wind instrumentation, hence the name, with help from percussionists, and occasionally one or two lower-string players. In Wind Ensemble, we play a lot of standard concert band repertoire, but then also some very contemporary pieces. At one point, we have even performed a dubstep-inspired piece. Being in Wind Ensemble and Orchestra are actually two very different experiences. Although they are based on the same idea of performing instrumental music, the environments differ in many ways. In Orchestra, there is a considerable amount of players, around 170, resulting in a less personal rehearsal. In Wind Ensemble, there are many less players, which results in each musician getting some amount of attention in a rehearsal.
In this recording you can here the UNCSA orchestra play the first movement of Carmina Burana. This piece is performed by orchestra, choir, and soloists. The recording only has the orchestra playing. The UNCSA orchestra includes woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion. Our orchestra has a powerful sound. This sound comes from the individual sounds each player brings to rehearsals and performances to create a larger sound. You can hear the low brass and low woodwinds play low D's and other sustaining notes while the upper brass and woodwinds accompany the strings as the strings play the leading theme. In the full arrangement you can hear the choir sing the chorus but in the recording you hardly miss the presence of the choir because the orchestra is playing with such a powerful sound. The recording truly shows how the UNCSA orchestra can stand alone without the choir or soloists. This is because the students of the UNCSA orchestra are hard working players being driven by the passion they have for them music they play
My audio bit recording is of the large ensemble Cantata Singers rehearsal on October 2nd, 2015, where we were rehearsing Johan Sebastian Bach's Magnificat in D Major. This is for an upcoming performance with the orchestra (another Large Ensemble) taking place in December. Aleisha Thompson-Heinz recorded a snippet of us actually singing, whereas I recorded our director Dr. Nathan Zullinger instructing us on how he wanted us to accent a particular phrase in the text. In the audio you can hear him teach us how to bounce off the "ni" syllable in "magnificat", pushing the phrase forward and thereby cleaning up the ensuing 16th note melisma and motif that occurs throughout the piece. This audio clip pertains to our theme of Large Ensemble rehearsals because, mainly, it is one, but also it is clear to note in the audio the unified learning and practice that is taking place under the instruction of one leader and director.
My audio recording is of the large ensemble Cantata Singers rehearsal on October 2nd, 2015. We were rehearsing Johan Sebastian Bach's Magnificat in D Major for an upcoming performance with the orchestra (another Large Ensemble) taking place in December. In this snippet of our rehearsal, we sang through the phrase. In Anna Carolina's recording, our instructor went back and worked out the kinks in this particular section. This rehearsal took place in a rehearsal room on the UNCSA campus and was recorded on an iphone 5s.
As shown in other large ensemble recordings, the UNCSA Cantata Singers performed Orff’s Carmina Burana in collaboration with the UNCSA Orchestra. The concert was conducted by Christopher James Lees on October 30, 31, and November 1, 2015. The UNCSA Cantata Singers will be performing with the Orchestra again in December for the performance of Bach’s Magnificat. Many members of the Cantata singers will also be performing in February in the opera chorus for UNCSA’s production of The Italian Straw Hat.
This sound is a recording of the piece Carmina Burana. This recording is of the orchestra at University of North Carolina School of the arts. At first you hear the musicians gathering and preparing to play. Then you hear the strong opening followed by the legato melody. Then, it picks up the pace with a quicker instrumental part as the the vocal parts come in. It has a dark feeling, and an extremely intense one. This carries on for a while as it slowly builds intensity. Suddenly, it is followed by a forte chord and the choir belting their lyrics. It all wraps up in the final rubato as the instruments clang together and finish this incredible and intense opening.