rcrowley.com Haystack Archive Tech Support
Portland State University's Haystack Summer Session in the Arts and Sciences is held each summer in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The eight week session is closed each year by the Choral Conducting Workshop, usually the first week of August. Professor Rodney Eichenberger (currently at Florida State Univeristy) has been conducting this class for more than 20 years, since he was at the University of Washington.
For the last five years I have been providing technical support for this very popular class. I provide these four major activities:
rcrowley.com Haystack Archive Tech Support
Every year, each student receives over 220 pieces of choral music. In order to keep track of all this literature, numbers are assigned so they could be filed in an orderly manner, and referred to by the shorthand file number.
In the past, a large part of Monday morning was taken up sorting through all the music and writing numbers on the copies. After my first year of doing this, I had the idea of making labels which would be pre-printed with the composer and title, and a large, legible number for easy filing.
Starting in 1996, I compiled the list of music with the list of student names and combined them to print sets of labels for each piece of music for each student. The labels contain the student's name, the name and year of the class, the composer's last name, the title of the music and, of course, the file number.
These are regular address labels (2 5/8 x 1 inch), 30 to the page. I have left two lines available for the composer name and music title because some of the names and titles require that much space. Also, with all the changes happening at the last minute, I don't have time to hand-tune all the label layouts.
Since we're never sure which music will arrive in time for the class, we don't have the final list of music (and students, for that matter!) until the Sunday afternoon before the class starts on Monday. This leaves me scrambling to make last minute changes to the music and student lists to prepare for printing the labels. I am frequently printing labels late into the evening on Sunday, and there are always more demands on Monday morning which keeps us printing all Mondaymorning as well.
As a convienence to students I also frequently find a good deal on portable plastic file boxes and bring around 30 of them to the class for students who didn't bring their own. It is almost a necessity to have something like this because we have little time in the class to search for music out of the big pile.
The general class is limited to the first 100 applicants and in the last several years, it has sold out early in the year for the August session. The master class of 20 conductors has a waiting list of several years. The master class conductors get personal instruction from Professor Eichenberger, have the opportunity to conduct the class, and prepare their chosen music for the final concert at the end of the week.
During their sessions in front of the class, Prof. Eichenberger gives demonstrations and helps their technique. These sessions are videotaped from the front (from the choir's viewpoint), and from the side with two video cameras.
These views are combined, split-screen, and recorded on the student's video cassette. Audio from the chorus is captured with a stereo mic suspended above the conductor, and Prof. Eichenberger's instruction is captured with a wireless mic on him.
Since the class is held in the large gymnasium of the Cannon Beach Elementary School, the basketball hoop is used to mount the front view camera. This gives a good view of the conductor without interference from singers standing in front of the camera. Conversely, it keeps the equipment out of the way of the singers.
Eugene Lysinger has been running this operation for almost ten years with my equipment, even before he talked me into attending the class sessions myself.
The first year I attended, we circulated a clipboard on the last day of the class for people to record their contact information. We then copied the list for each member to take with them. The second year, I typed this information into the computer and printed a more compact and readable version of this list.
The third year, I brought my Snappy video capture dongle and used one of the video cameras to take pictures of each student. I combined these pictures with the contact information we were already collecing to procude an "instant yearbook". This has become a popular feature of the class each year since.
At the end of the week, a concert is performed by the class with themaster class students conducting their chosen works. Professer Eichenberger adds one or two numbers at the beginning and the end to balance out the selections. Toward the end of each concert, Prof. Eichenberger selects a piece of music from the stack which we have not sung before and we sight read it for the audience!.
I use the field video production unit which Dave Morgan and I own to videotape the concert with four cameras. We have three cameras in the usual positions around the audience area on tripods, and then we also use the "hoop cam" for a reverse-angle view of the directors. The "hoop cam" is simulataneously used for the conductor's video record of the concert performance. We split the camera video with a home made video distribution amplifier.
We record the concert essentially "live to tape" as it happens. Then we add titles in post production and offer copies to the program participants. We also make a two-CD set of the music from the concert for those who prefer just the audio recordings.
© 1998 Richard Crowley