Jan. 28th, 2010

meanfreepath: (Default)
Whee... it's been kind of an insanely couple of weeks.

UChoir had its first service of the semester last weekend. Morning Prayers have now started up again, and my body is still sort of reeling from the readjustment, particularly since I've been a night owl since college.

As I've mentioned before, UChoir's spring concert will be Bach's St John Passion. We'll be performing it on Passion Sunday, March 28 -- two months away. We had read through the first chorus ("Herr, unser Herrscher") and a couple of the chorales in the fall, but have only started to work on the piece in earnest in this week's rehearsals. This will be intense -- it took the Swarthmore College Chorus the entire semester to learn the St John, and that was with a few particularly difficult movements or sections of movements delegated to the Chamber Choir. And of course we still have to prepare music for Sunday services between now and March. But in two rehearsals we've gotten most of the notes in place for all the choral movements in Part I and made a solid start on the German, and we are having an extra rehearsal after this Sunday's service to read through the rest of the piece.

Bach apparently revised the St John Passion several times during his life. At Swarthmore we did the earliest version, from 1724. UChoir is doing the 1749 version, the last performed in Bach's lifetime. It is quite close to the 1724 version, but there are changes in harmony and orchestration. One of the first ones I noticed -- the first chorale ("O gro├če Lieb") ends on a Picardy third in the 1724 version, but not in the 1749. There will apparently be a pre-concert talk by Prof. Christoph Wolff -- apparently one of the world's best Bach scholars -- in which we'll sing through the different revisions of the first chorale, which will be pretty neat.

One interesting development -- I'll be taking a class this semester for once, although not on physics. Phillip Sadler, an education researcher at the Center for Astrophysicists, teaches from time to time a course called "Scientists Teaching Science." The focus is on cognitive and methodological research on science teaching; I think the material will be really interesting. While nowhere near as demanding as any typical Swarthmore social science class, it'll be a nontrivial amount of work, with reading and generally a short paper to write weekly. But I think I'll get a lot out of the class, and it looks like it'll have an interesting mixture of people from a variety of science disciplines -- physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, and biology all being represented.

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