Choir practice in 3 languages - 2 of them human

I’m getting lots of exposure to foreign languages at the moment from the choir where I sing. We are currently practising three different works:

  • *Styx * by Giya Kancheli, which is in Georgian
  • *Die Jahreszeiten * by Joseph Haydn, which is in German
  • *Lord of the Rings Symphony * by Howard Shore, which is in elvish, plus a bit of orcish (I think)

Normally we get specialist language coaches to give us tips on pronunciation. It may be a bit difficult to find some elves to help us out though!


There’s an opera in Elvish?

Probably wouldn’t be too hard to find someone who speaks Elvish on THIS board… or even pointers to an organisation who could offer language tips.

Google Is Your Friend: Elvish language

Evidently there’s an Elvish Linguistic Fellowship, which publishes a journal containing articles such as “The Past-Tense Verb in the Noldorin of the Etymologies: A Formal Classification”.

Then there are the tousands of fans of Elvish, such as this one. I’m willing to bet that if you are anywhere near a university, you could find someone who could help.

Oops. That middle link should go to :slight_smile:

You could suggest, for the next concert, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass: in ninth-century Slavonic.

And then call in sick for three months :stuck_out_tongue:

Very, very cool! Where did your choir get the sheet music, especially for the Georgian piece? What’s it like, musically? Traditional Georgian polyphony, or something else?

**GorillaMan ** - we sang three performances of the *Glagolitic Mass * last October. The 9th century church slavonic can certainly be a bit of a tongue-twister.

**Sunspace ** - Thanks for those references to Elvish language sites. The Lord of the Rings work is a concert symphony, rather than an opera. It’s based, I presume, on the music scores from the films, none of which I have actually seen.

[Mojo Nixon]
Elvish is everywhere.
Elvish is everything.
Elvish is everybody.
Elvish is still the king.
Man-O-man what I want you to see
We’ve got to destroy the one ruling ring!
[Mojo Nixon]


Jeez, you’re lucky to have three languages. My choir only knew three keys: the one the music was written in, the one the choir was singing in, and the one the sopranos were singing in.

Today at mass (my professional gig), we performed a Bloch piece in Hebrew, a mass by John Ireland in Latin and English, and a French motet. I’m used to no English. I somehow doubt the Episcopalian Church would allow us to do anything in Elvish, cool as it may be.

screech-owl: with us, it’s usually the Sopranos who are in key. The tenors, though… is the best site for Elvish, and in fact all of Tolkien’s languages.

That said, I think it would be much, much cooler to do a musical piece in Saimiar. :smiley:

The sheet music for the Georgian piece appears to have come from a German publisher. It’s an interesting work - quite dark and moody, based I think on traditional Georgian folk tunes.

As a first tenor, I can assure you that we tenors are always perfectly in tune - it’s the rest of the choir that’s at fault. :wink:

The music at our mass yesterday was entirely in Latin - the mass for 4 voices by Tallis and a motet by Palestrina.

Nah, with us it was always the sopranos (I’m a mezzo/alto). All of them ancient (at least 50: hey, I was 17 at the time): large, monobosomed, pillars of the church, all trying to outsing each other, and succeeding wonderfully at it, to the detriment of the rest of us). And we did have one tenor who did sound a bit pinched and constipated when he sang…

As for me, in college we sang a piece for a choral composition competition (we the choir sang the entries) written in Middle English. Yeah, it’s a short poem, but the counterpoint and textures were wonderful. Ironically in this context, it lost out to a very fluffy piece based on some of the poems from “The Hobbit” in English (not Elvish) - very loud, very yelled, very staccato, with not much real substance; definitely a crowd-pleaser.

I think Hebrew is my favorite language to sing in, followed by German and Latin.

Heh heh, Kancheli’s published by Schirmer…time for some misprint-spotting

And he’s a great composer, too much ignored


I love Tallis and Palestrina. Our director is an early-music whore, so I’m really very familiar with Tallis.

Screech - I assure you, I have two breasts. If it’s screechy “Pillars of the Church” you’re after, you have to go somewhere else than our parish. We’re all paid, and most of us aren’t at all devout. I sit next to a vegetarian lesbian Jew and a pagan.

Heh. I was talking about my church, having since transferred and most of the ones in question gone to the great choir loft in the sky. In fact, when the wind blows just right at night, you can still hear them competing with each other Or maybe it’s just the frogs.

You get PAID to sing in parish? :eek: Cool! :slight_smile:

Yep. It’s better than singing in a smoky bar, but there’s that whole incense and Jesus thing. If you look around at the High Episcopalian churches in your area (what is your area?) you may find that some of them are paid positions.

My choir performed a program with our local symphony that included Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, which is my all-time favorite piece. Also on the program was an arrangement of the 1812 Overture which restored the lyrics to the Russian church hymns and folk song that Tchaikovsky incorporated wholesale into the piece. I’ve sung in English, German, French, Italian and Latin, but Russian was something else entirely.

Not to mention that I really picked a bad season to switch from tenor section to bass. :eek:

You’re quite correct - we are already finding plenty of misprints.

I once heard an arrangement of Sibelius’ Finlandia, with a choir singing the hymn-like middle theme. That, presumably, was in Finnish. I’ve never spoken the language, but it’s a neat one to hear.

My high-school choir director was big on African languages, so I’ve sung stuff in Zulu and Swahili. Also, some Spanish Christmas carols that turned out to be in Catalan.

I’m curious as to how the OP’s chorus got a hold of the Howard Shore music!