Critique of “Hark the Herald”

This blog post is a critique of this performance of “Hark the Herald” by Brant Adams.  Please listen to this performance and choose three of the following criteria to comment on; Tone, Intonation, Musicality, Diction, Accuracy, Balance, Blend, Presentation.

This assignment is due on Tuesday November 12th, at 11:59 pm.  It is worth 15 points and you may earn 2 bonus points for each classmate’s comment that you comment on for a maximum total of 6 bonus points.  The link to the grading rubric and a document explaining the criteria can be found here.

Love y’all more than Starbucks red cups!!

Mrs. R.

16 thoughts on “Critique of “Hark the Herald”

  1. Overall the performance was pretty good. The presentation of the choir was pretty uniform, which allowed me to focus in the sound of the choir, but the lack of facials made me feel as if they weren’t telling the story of the song, taking away from the performance. Also, the balance of alto, soprano, bass, and tenor for the most part was balanced, but when the sopranos hit very high notes they drowned out the other parts. Lastly, in my opinion the blend wasn’t as strong because at certain parts it sounded as if there was a soloist and everyone else was the background harmonies.

  2. Personally, I think to a non-critical ear, this would be a perfectly good performance. However, if you really think about what the choir is doing while you listen, you’ll definitely find some flaws. The choir did, however have good presentation, all dressed in matching robes. Despite this uniformity, one thing that stood out to me was the lack of emotion. Each member stood still as a statue throughout the entire piece. Also, the choir was definitely lacking any musicality in the form of dynamics. The majority of the piece was performed at the same dynamic of mezzo forte or forte, without any artistic dynamic changes to color the piece. The thing that stood out to me most was how unbalanced the choir was. From the very beginning, the first thing I noticed was how the sopranos stuck out, the tenors faded in and out, and the altos and basses were virtually unheard. This continued throughout the entirety of the piece. Overall, this was a good performance, but it still lacked many factors that would make it a great one.

  3. So, Overall I really liked LISTENING to them sing. Key word is listening. I already read the other comments, and I think we all have the same opinion,which is that theres no emotion. They were singing the piece well, but they they weren’t very joyful when they said “Joyful all ye nations rise” they were very strait faced. Also one little thing that stuck out to me was at 1:24-1:25 when they sang “glory to the new born king”, the vowel for “KIng sounded more like KEENG which for me was a bit wonky, because I would’ve preferred to hear it with more of an open vowel. I would spell it out, but I don’t know how to spell this sound. One thing I did enjoy listening to them because they had good balance and I like being able to hear the guys in a group, and it was nice because the guys’ voices were soft rather than firm. And I also liked that the group didn’t sound punchy, but very fluid. Overall, I would say I did like the performance quite a bit, but my major annoyance was with the facial expressions.

    • I also agree that the facial expressions of the choir members could have been better. They needed to show more emotion in the piece. This would improve the visual quality of the piece.

  4. Overall listening to their interpretation of this piece. Just like Jada said, with beauty of this piece they lacked facial nonrecognition of pure joy and happiness while singing. I think Blend wise it was moderate. I think with a little less sound of the sopranos and more altos it would sound even better. In addition I thought tone was absolutely amazing. They didn’t sound immature or winey. I also believe diction should be more inforced like for example Hark should have more of a K crisp sound to it. In conclusion I believe this choir is amazing but they still need help in certain areas that would boost their performing ability.

    • I also agree that the sopranos were very prominent throughout the piece, and that the other sections should have been more prominent.

    • I agree, one thing I will give to this choir is their maturity. They had nice vowels that would have been showcased more if they had a better blend.

  5. The first thing I noticed was the piano, and I do not know if it was just me, but the piano sounded really weird to me and stood out. I found it to be very distracting. The all had matching robes, so the performance was appealing to the eyes, but they had absolutely no facial expressions! This song is meant to be sung with such powerful emotion, because the song is about joy.The balance of alto, soprano, bass, and tenor for the most part was balanced. However, the sopranos would drown the other parts at times when they sang high notes. Their diction could have been more crisp, but the tone was pretty good and had mature vowels. The dynamics of their performance were pretty much at metro forte and there was not much change.

  6. I really enjoyed listening to this choir. The performance was very good, but there were some flaws. For instance, the presentation of the choir could have been improved upon. I liked how they all were wearing robes and looked uniform, but I did not like how they seemed to be very emotionless throughout the entire piece. In addition, the balance of the choir could have been improved upon because the sopranos stuck out throughout the piece. The other sections could have been more prominent. Furthermore, the musicality could have been improved upon because the dynamics never changed drastically. The performance could have been made better if the choir sang piano sometimes. It would add more suspense and excitement to the piece. This choir sounded very good, but there are many things that it could improve upon.

    • I agree! The lack of emotion was very distracting and the lack of dynamics because of that was even more frustrating.

  7. I really enjoyed listening to this choir and found only a few things that I think they could’ve change to improve their performance. The first thing I noticed while listening to this choir was just how unbalanced it was. Each section was very strong which was fitting for this piece, but they would overpower each other at different points in the song. This also contributed to their overall blend which needed some work. In the beginning, the altos were overpowering the other sections and were a little flat. The sopranos at the very end were singing much louder than the other sections and they didn’t have the melody so it made the song sound funny. Also, they had very poor cut offs which I think are extremely necessary in such a strong, dramatic piece. They had good diction but could further improve it by changing some vowels so that they could have a more mature sound and appropriate tone. I also think that they should’ve emphasized some of the words to add more color to the song but overall is was good. Their matching robes gave a good uniform look but I think a smile and some emotion would make their overall presentation great!

  8. I had to really find some strength to watch this video all the way through as soon as the pianist messed up the intro not once, but twice I nervous about what I was about to watch. What I saw was a choir that did not want to be on stage and if they did they did not portray that well. Presentation was there in uniform, but not in spirit. I really did not feel anything from this piece, just sounds. Which is sad because this choir has a lot of potential. The conductor had more emotion in his signals than the entire choir combined. I feel like Simon Cowell wow. Also, the blend struggled in the female sections. Either the sopranos would pierce through or the altos came in with no energy to support their notes, so they sounded flat. There was never a moment when I thought I was listening to one voice, you really could hear each section, but not in the right way.The men’s “glory to the newborn king” had no energy. I run like that needs fuel from beginning to end to make the run sound fluid, but also have each note heard. I really only noticed the first and last note of that line that should be leading into the alto’s section. Then the altos let us down from no energy to even less energy for THEIR OWN TIME TO SHINE. ALTOS NEVER HAVE THE MELODY WHY ARE THEY NOT EXCITED TO SING IT? Last, the musicality was attempted I did notice some parts that were slightly quieter, but the fortissimo at the end did not catch me. I feel like because of their lack of emotion and energy, proper dynamics could not happen…. so they didn’t. The piece stayed at mf the whole time. If there is anything to take away from this performance it is that facials, emotion, caring about what you are singing about, and moving is crucial to choral performances. DO NOT BE A ROBOT.

  9. My initial thought was this choir has some excellent strengths and some things that was sort of lack luster for me. Overall, the presentation was traditional as it should be. I personally thought their diction and constants could have been more sharp, some words I couldn’t understand because they didn’t put the ending constanants on. Their expression made it unbearable to watch, they are sing a CHRISTMAS SONG and they look miserable, a choir could have the best sound but they are not in it with face expressions and movement then it is pointless. However, I did like the contrast between the girls and boys, the boys backed off when it was the girls turn to shine and the girls did the same for the guys. I think this is a good template for vocal minus a couple of things.

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