THE MUSIC CONTINUES:
VIRTUAL CHOIR STARTER PACK


Submissions are now closed for our Virtual Choir, but if you’re curious to know how our participants prepared for this special online performance, their Starter Pack materials are available below.

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WHAT IS THE "ANVIL CHORUS"?

It’s one of the most famous choral pieces in opera, coming from the second act of Il Trovatore, an 1853 opera by Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.

The chorus is a work song –– you’ll hear the sound of hammers pounding on anvils as blacksmiths make their wares –– and has the high energy and driving rhythm of a community working as one.

Have a listen to this version by conductor Herbert von Karajan and the orchestra & chorus of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

STEP 2: ORIENTATION

Watch the orientation video below, outlining the key steps in your Virtual Choir preparation: picking a part, learning the text, as well as warming up your voice prior to practicing and performing the piece. 


Documents mentioned in the video above.

We recommend printing these out and having them handy as you go through the instructional videos in the next steps.

Click here to get the printable sheet music.

Click here for the Italian text and English translation.

As Sandra mentions in the video above, you’ll need to pick one of two parts in the score to sing: either the high voice (yellow underline below) or the low voice (orange line below).


For a better idea of which one might be more comfortable for you, have a listen to the videos in Step 5A and 5B, where Anna-Sophie Neher sings the high voice part and Joel Allison sings the low voice part, both accompanied by pianist Rachael Kerr.

And if you don’t read sheet music, that’s no problem. In each instructional video that follows, we have embedded the score and text in the lower half of the video to synchronize with the music, kind of like a scrolling karaoke track. Instead of following the notation of musical notes, you can simply follow the text.

If you’re curious to learn more about reading a score, see Score Basics.

STEP 3: LEARN THE TEXT
The first thing to do when learning a new piece of music is to get really comfortable with the text. The “Anvil Chorus”— like a lot of opera — is in Italian. Even if you don’t speak Italian, you can learn to sing it. In fact, many professional singers perform in languages that they don’t speak.

In these videos, Sandra will help you master the text by speaking the Italian slowly and in rhythm. We recommend pausing the video after each line and repeating the words slowly to get used to them.



Once you’re comfortable with the Italian, move on to this video, where Sandra speaks the text at the speed with which we’ll sing the part.

STEP 4: VOCAL WARM-UP
Singers are athletes. And just like an athlete, you need a good warm-up routine for your vocal cords. 

Before you start singing full out in Step 5, follow these guided exercises from soprano Anna-Sophie Neher and bass-baritone Joel Allison –– artists of the COC’s Ensemble Studio training program.

STEP 5A: LEARN YOUR PART - HIGH VOICES
Watch below to learn your part with pianist Rachael Kerr. 

In the first half of the video, Rachael will play a slowed-down version of the accompaniment that will let you practice your part at a slower tempo. 

At the 2:56 mark of the video she is joined by soprano Anna-Sophie Neher, and they play the piece at full speed. Practice along following their lead.

Note: Please sing in a range that feels comfortable—the "Anvil Chorus" is quite high for some voice types! If there is a certain section that feels too high, you can go down an octave (sing it twice as low).

STEP 5B: LEARN YOUR PART - LOW VOICES
Watch below to learn your part with pianist Rachael Kerr. 

In the first half of the video, Rachael will play a slowed-down version of the accompaniment that will let you practice your part at a slower tempo. 

At the 2:54 mark of the video she is joined by bass-baritone Joel Allison, and they play the piece at full speed. Practice along following their lead.

Note: Please sing in a range that feels comfortable—the "Anvil Chorus" is quite high for some voice types! If there is a certain section that feels too high, you can go down an octave (sing it twice as low).

STEP 5C: LEARN YOUR PART - ANVIL
To learn your anvil part, first listen to the professional recording a few times to get yourself acquainted with the music and pay careful attention to the clanging of the anvils. (You can listen to the professional recording under What is the "Anvil Chorus"?)

Then, make two anvils, one high and one low. This can be achieved by using two different sized frying pans or pots –– one small and one large. Place the smallest to your left and the largest to your right. You'll also want to grab a "drumstick" –– you can use any kitchen utensil as a drumstick or mallet!

When you’re ready to try it yourself, listen to the track below and try to match the beat of the percussion part as closely as possible. Keep practicing until you've got that down! 


Please note: if you are submitting an anvil part, we ask that you do not sing out loud in your video submission (as infectious as this tune is!). This will help us synchronize the complete Virtual Choir performance video more seamlessly. Of course if you wish to sing, we would be delighted to receive a separate vocal submission from you!
STEP 6: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
This is the final step before you’re ready to record! Practice a few times with this video, listening to it with headphones, until you feel comfortable performing alongside all the other parts –– you'll be recording your contribution with this as your guiding track. Think of Anna-Sophie and Joel as your fellow choir members, supporting your voice as you sing your part.

If you find it easier to sing along with either the high voice video in Step 5A (from 2:56 to the end) or the low voice video in 5B (from 2:54 to the end), you may record your submission while listening to those tracks instead. 

Note: Please sing in a range that feels comfortable—the "Anvil Chorus" is quite high for some voice types! If there is a certain section that feels too high, you can go down an octave (sing it twice as low).

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