Exploring dialects through music

Voices of Birralee is getting ready to fulfil its exciting end of year commitments with a number of events including performing in the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols and QPAC’s Spirit of Christmas.

Another exciting opportunity is coming up for 45 of our Birralee Singers and BBV who will perform as the Children’s Chorus in Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Carmen In-Concert on Saturday 25 November.

The concert, celebrating QSO’s 70 year anniversary, conducted by Music Director, Alondra de la Parra, with some of the roles in collaboration with Lisa Gasteen Opera School, will see our young choristers singing in French.

It is going to be a wonderful opportunity for our choristers to perform in the presence of professional singers, while brushing up on their language learning skills.

“We see great value in including repertoire in our ensembles’ programs of varying dialects to open our choristers’ minds to different cultures, while encouraging them to challenge themselves with a language that isn’t their own,” Voices of Birralee Artistic Director & Founder Julie Christiansen OAM said. 

Some of the pieces Voices of Birralee have performed in a non-English language include Riu, Riu, Chiu (Mateo Flecha) performed by the Birralee Blokes above at Voices of Birralee’s 20 Year Anniversary Concert in 2015.

The Polish Mironczarnia (music by Jakub Neske, words by Białoszewski) was performed by BBV above, also at Birralee’s 20th Anniversary Concert.

Resonance of Birralee performed Spiritus Sanctus (Daniel Brinsmead) with Latin dialect at their 10th Anniversary Concert in 2016.

Learning repertoire with lyrics in a non-English dialect can be challenging, however there are lots of tips and tricks our choristers have developed over time.

These include:

1. Write out the words phonetically 
2. Listen to the words being spoken via audio recordings supplied by your conductor, or via sources such as YouTube or Soundcloud. Listen to various versions of a song to compare pronunciation 
3. Find translations of the words and discuss these with your fellow choristers and conductors to ensure a correct or agreed meaning 
4. Think of the translation while you’re singing to build emotional memory 
5. Practice! 


Do you have a special method of learning non-English lyrics? Comment below!


If you’d love to support our choristers at Carmen In-Concert, book your tickets here.


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