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Earle Terry

London (Ont.), Althouse Press, 1992. 219pp, paper, $21.95
ISBN 0-920354-32-7. CIP

Reviewed by Kenneth Field.

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

Earle Terry, the author of this book, has for almost sixty years been involved in choral music and music education. He has con­ducted several influential Canadian choral ensembles and, through performances abroad, has gained an international reputa­tion as a choral conductor. In addition, he has taught music at McGill University, the University of British Columbia, the Univer­sity of Victoria and the University of Western Ontario. He has also been an adjudicator at many music festivals and has written a number of texts on music education in elementary schools. It is from this wealth of experience and knowledge that the wisdom of this book arises.

In this book Earle Terry examines choral conducting from every possible angle and perspective. He looks at it from the point of view of a successful final performance and how that can be achieved by means of a holistic approach that incorporates musical interpretation and technical analysis of the singing. He then moves in to dissect the whole, examining each part and step on the way to producing a musically beautiful performance.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section deals with choral music and performance in a broad sense. It examines performances of specific choral pieces, bringing all the components necessary for a successful performance together. Terry shows the linkage between technical process and musicality by beginning each chapter in this section with an adjudicator's assessment of several performances and then providing an analysis of each piece of music performed. In this way he shows the technical problems and challenges in the pieces and points to specific musical interpretations of the pieces. It is clear throughout the book that the text and music of any piece must rank foremost when interpreting, rehearsing and perform­ing a piece.

The second and third sections of the book deal in minute detail with all the technical aspects of choral conducting and singing. This book has been written for choral conductors; it explains and illustrates those things which a conductor must do and must have the choir do in order to achieve the end result of a beautifully interpreted and performed piece of music. Terry does not, however, neglect the elements of singing a choir must be able to perform in order to render a beautiful musical performance. Exercises and ways of approaching technical problems are provided to enable choirs to achieve technical proficiency.

This book is an excellent handbook for choral conductors and a must for anyone seeking a greater understanding of the art of choral conducting and performance. It should become a required text for anyone embarking on a study of choral conducting.

Kenneth Field is a librarian at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.
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