We will begin working on Carmina Burana this week (unless, of course, there’s too much snow – keep thinking positive and dry thoughts). In 1935-36 Carl Orff took medieval song lyrics in Latin, German and French and set them to music for 3 soloists and chorus, originally accompanied by a large orchestra. We will sing the spectacular arrangement for two pianos and 5 percussionists.
Here’s a link to a pronunciation guide and line-by-line translation:
And here’s an excerpt from a 1980 Robert Shaw letter to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, “concerning Orff’s Carmina and home-practice (before an Internet and the convenience of a Chorus website!)” [bolded sentences mine]:
…Fortunately – both text and tempo are responsive to home study. –Balances are impossible to cure at home; and problems of pitch and intonation are difficult for some of us; -but text and rhythm and tempo can be practiced by anyone – even while jogging, or riding a bus.
Similarly, the rehearsal and performance problems of Carmina burana are primarily text-related… this work calls for a Latin unlike any we’ve performed or any tradition most of us have been exposed to. It will be… considerably less Italianate than has been our wont (or occasional will.)…
…Each of us, however, is obliged to deal personally and alone with those textual problems occasioned and aggravated by SPEED. Carmina burana is a “fun” piece. It affords none of the satisfactions of a St. Matthew Passion…Its delights are delights of Broadway – or the satisfactions of running a 200-meter high hurdles around one curve in 13.9” – backwards.
-Onwards, upwards and prepareds. (http://www.asochorus.org/06-09-09_ORFF-POETS.pdf)