Procrastinator’s Links about Budapest

This week I’ll focus on online resources about the cities we’re visiting that might be useful to choir members. Personally, I’ve never visited any of these locales before, but I also haven’t had time to do research and read guidebooks. Suddenly I realized that there’s less than a week to go, and I know very little about these cities, so I’ve been doing a little internet searching to get oriented. Here are a few potentially helpful resources:

  • Lonely Planet iPhone App – At $5.99 for the app, it’s not exactly cheap, but this looks like it might be a handy resource while walking around the city. Commenters note that the offline map is useful. On a related note, if you have an iPhone and want to bring it with you to use on WiFi but not 3g, here’s a site with specific details for how to set your iPhone to turn off cellular data.
  • Orientation to Budapest (Frommer’s) – A brief history and geography of Budapest. Includes basics about Budapest neighborhoods, as well as a primer on things like Hungarian street-naming practices. For instance, did you know that Budapest is divided into 23 districts? Or that the word “utca” means “street” in Hungarian?
  • Restaurant Basics (Frommer’s) – Info about dining in Budapest. In particular, I found the information about payment to be interesting. For instance, according to the guide, restaurant-dining tends to be more leisurely than we may be used to. In addition, tipping is also different, with 10% being the customary amount, if it is not already included in the bill.
  • Lonely Planet Budapest Guide – a website with lots of information about the city, what to do and see, where to eat, etc.
  • Budapest Top 10 Lists – Concise lists of Budapest highlights in a variety of categories.
  • Hotel Novotel Congress – Our hotel’s website is here. You can also see  more information about the hotel’s location on Google Maps.

I hope that some of these sites prove helpful to you. Have you found any good online resources about Budapest yourself? If so, please share it in a comment!

It’s hard to believe the trip is coming up so quickly, but this time next week we will already be leaving Budapest and on our way to Ljubljana!

Posted in pre-tour | Tagged | Leave a comment

Women’s Voices, Women’s Music

Composer Lana Walter meeting with WVC in 2010

It’s in our constitution that Women’s Voices Chorus seeks to “promote choral works by and for women.” On our upcoming tour, we’ll be singing many works by female composers, including:

  • Canticle of the Creatures – Sister Theophane Hytrek
  • Selections from Magnificat – Lana Walter
  • Michael, Seraphim from The Nine Orders of Angels – Patricia Van Ness
  • Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child – arr. Nina Gilbert
  • Ave Maria – Paola Tillen
  • Wade in the Watah – Ysaye Barnwell

Our founder, Mary Lycan, wrote a series of papers and talks about the history of women’s choral music, which you can find here. She writes in an engaging, conversational, and often funny style about her work compiling a huge database of choral works written by women for women, and about breaking down the stereotype that “before 1800, a composer was a German guy in a powdered wig” and “after 1800, a composer was a German guy with bad hair.”

Lycan stresses the importance of “real repertoire” for women’s choirs. That is, repertoire that’s not just SATB music transcribed for treble voices, music that takes seriously the project of composing for women’s unique vocal capabilities. One of the moments in history that she highlights is music for 18th-century Venetian girl’s orphanages, and coincidentally, we’re going to sing one such piece, a selection from Magnificat by Nicola Porpora, in the very Venetian orphanage for which it was designed!

Posted in pre-tour | Tagged | Leave a comment

Chorus Voices: An Interview with Allan

Women’s Voices Chorus is very lucky to have Dr. Allan Friedman as our Artistic Director. He’s a talented conductor, a friendly, fun, and thoughtful human being, and a great composer too – we’ll be singing his Nunc Dimittis and his arrangement of the spiritual Little Innocent Lamb in Europe. I caught up with him for a few minutes before rehearsal to get his perspective on the upcoming tour.

Allan is a veteran of four international choir tours, and he acknowledges that one unique challenge in preparing a choir is balancing the needs of novice and expert travelers. He says that he’s been “trying to keep things interesting for the people who are experienced but yet informative for the people who aren’t” and he credits Tour Manager Jen Gibson with doing an exemplary job, keeping everyone informed and everything running smoothly.

For many of us this will be our first choir tour, and Allan offers the following advice: “Get as much sleep as you can on the plane, take care of yourselves physically, get plenty of rest. Just let the bad things roll off and enjoy the good things as much as possible.”

Musically, he believes that WVC has a lot to offer European audiences. He notes that women’s choirs are perhaps more common in Europe than in the States, so it will be great to show audiences abroad that Americans have a rich tradition of women’s singing too, and moreover that “classical music isn’t the domain of Europeans only.” We will also provide a diverse and significant perspective on American music, which, as you might expect, is performed less often and with less skill in Europe. “I think that showing them what an American women’s choir can do is important,” Allan notes.

Our repertoire for the choir tour has been in the works for years. Allan comments that “as soon as we decided to go on tour, I knew that I wanted to do mostly American music and then also some music from the countries that we’re visiting.”

Through providing this unique musical perspective to Hungarian, Slovenian, and Italian audiences, WVC will also get something back, both musically and socially. Allan suggests that through the experience of singing multiple concerts and repeating pieces several times, we’ll see improvement as a musical ensemble. He also notes that close friends sing better together, and that “just to have a chance to have social interaction on a longer basis than just rehearsals will be really special.”

In fact, that social aspect is one thing Allan is most looking forward to about the tour. He’s excited about getting to know individual choir members better, as well as to perform in beautiful and historic venues:

“Personally, I’d say that I’m most looking forward to spending extended amounts of time with the chorus. […] I’m excited to make music in these beautiful places, to get to sing music that was written for St. Mark’s or written for the Ospedaletto.* To get to do that is really thrilling for me.”

We’re also looking forward to sharing good music, good times, and good food with Allan (“I love me some goulash,” he says, although “gelato is very high on the list too”)!


*WVC will be helping out with an interdisciplinary technology project conducted by researchers at Duke University involving acoustically mapping the Sala della Musica at the Ospedaletto in Venice. Look for more details about this fascinating project in the future!

Posted in pre-tour | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Getting ready

We’ve had a rigorous rehearsal schedule in the last couple of weeks, and we are almost ready to go! In the picture at left, you can see us practicing in Duke Chapel, one of our two rehearsal venues. Each day this week we’ve worked on pieces for a particular European concert.

Dr. Allan Friedman, our Artistic Director, has designed a great series of concerts. We’re not just singing the same thing in each city – instead, we’ll be doing a mix of American choral pieces and music from the country we’re currently visiting. For instance, during last night’s rehearsal we practiced our music for a mass in Venica’s Basilica di San Marco, which includes music by Giovanni Gabrieli and Adrian Willaert written specifically for that historic venue. Likewise, in Slovenia and Hungary we will sing music from those countries (we’ve been working hard on our Slovenian and Hungarian pronunciation!).

Check out our online performance schedule here!

Posted in pre-tour | Tagged | 1 Comment

Less than 2 weeks to go!

In less than two weeks, Women’s Voice Chorus will be on a plane to Budapest, Hungary! We’ve been rehearsing diligently, and we are excited to have this amazing opportunity to share our music with a European audience, and to sing in some truly historic and beautiful spaces. In the upcoming weeks, this site will host the official WVC 2012 European Tour Travelogue. We’ll be sharing photos and reflections on our odyssey through Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. Please subscribe to our blog to receive updates on our preparation and travel – just click on the orange RSS icon beside “Follow” in the top menu to subscribe to our site in your reader of choice!

Welcome to our site, and thank you for joining us (virtually) on our musical journey!

Posted in pre-tour | Tagged , | Leave a comment