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This module represents suggestions for the selection of repertoire for a choir to perform in a contest. It also includes advice regarding the rehearsals leading to the contest and other related contest preparations.

Large ensembles

When selecting literature for a contest, the director is interested in presenting the best impression of his group that he can. This is not the occasion for "gambling." It is true that one ought to be able to choose music from the spring program and perform it successfully at a music contest. However, this is only true if one is careful about which pieces are chosen. If your choir has just begun a performance study of Baroque repertoire use one of these works in contest only if the choir is very secure in its performance of the piece.

The students probably will not be secure enough in the style to stand the type of scrutiny that contest judges will give to the performance practice of the music. Usually a director will choose several works for the spring concert with a contest performance in mind. This will allow a public performance of the contest pieces before the contest itself.

Several suggestions regarding repertoire follow. Most of these are compatible with the requirements you would make for any piece of music you would program for a concert. All of the criteria that are usually applied to the selection of choral repertoire apply here but several suggestions pertain especially to contest repertoire.

1. Be careful not to overchallenge the ensembles for the contest performance. Do not select a piece that you think your group should be able to do or that you would like to do that particular year. Avoid music that is experimental as far as you and your groups are concerned. A contest performance is a time when your students are under a great deal of pressure; this is not a time for experimentation. It is best to stay fairly close to the type of music your groups have performed during the course of the year. For example, if you have not performed contemporary music during the year, your students will probably not have the understanding necessary to adequately present one at a contest. Adjudicators have often made the statement that, ". . . the ensemble probably could have received a superior rating if they had not attempted more than they could do well." Of course, "they" refers directly to the conductor of the ensemble since that person selects the music.

2. Select music that will command the respect of the judge as being worthy of performance. Avoid popular tunes or Broadway musical show tunes. There is a fantastic amount of beautiful choral repertoire that the students will enjoy singing and a judge will enjoy hearing. Some states require at least one selection from an approved list and allow other works of the director's choosing. At the same time do not choose music solely on the basis that it will impress a judge, especially a particular judge. Often directors know who the judge will be and attempt to choose repertoire that is directed toward his known likes. This often backfires because the judge is so exacting regarding this repertoire that his standards may unconsciously become higher and he is therefore more difficult to please.

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Source:  OpenStax, Choral techniques. OpenStax CNX. Mar 08, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11191/1.1
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