A musically eventful Sunday at Old South Church this week. Our guest group, Mastersingers USA is a men’s choral group who according to their official biography all “have some connection with Bruce McInnes,” who was assistant conductor of the men’s glee club at Yale and went on to lead groups at Amherst and University of Wisconsin. They were today about 75 strong and sang a mixed program of men’s sacred music for the prelude, then went on to do a joint work with the Old South choir, two movements from Vierne’s Mass for Two Choirs.
I had missed that men’s glee club sound. But unfortunately I also noticed something that I hadn’t realized when I was singing in the Virginia Glee Club but have since noticed listening to recordings of various men’s groups: an American all-male choir can sometimes have a thinner sound than a full choir. The ideal vocal sound for blend for a four part men’s choir is a little less rich and vibrato laden than the symphonic sound, partly I suppose because of the difficulty of blending rich men’s voices across the entire male vocal range. It may simply also have been rust; the group only tours every three years, and this is their first time on the road since 2003. It was nevertheless a pleasure to sing with them and I hope I get the opportunity again at some point in the future.