Naya Chorale — Close Your Eyes and Sing!

Australia based ensemble, Naya Chorale, achieves their riveting sound through meditation based exercises and focused warmups.

What is something you do with Naya that other choirs might find bizarre

About once a year, in a rehearsal when we’re not so pushed for time, we do about half an hour of vocal toning. We turn off the lights, find a place to sit on the floor, close our eyes, and start improvising – humming, various vowels, usually not words. It’s basically meditation for musicians, but instead of the focus being on just breath (as would be the norm for a lot of meditations) the focus is on how your notes are interacting with those of the singers around you.


Choir Name:  Naya Chorale
Location: Perth, Australia
Style:  Bit of everything: classical, contemporary, folk… 
Number of singers:  ~40
Choir Director Name: Adam Brockway
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How do your singers feel about this experience?

The sustained concentration creates a mental state where you can really feel like you’re floating. When it fades to silence at the end, there’s an amazing sense of tranquility in the room. 

Powerful and Chilling rendition of Skyfall from Naya Chorale (2013).

What are other ways that your singers bond?  

Photo shoots and music festivals. Each season we do a new photoshoot, and I think this helps everyone feel some ownership for the marketing material. On the day of the shoot there’s always a fair amount of waiting around, and with everyone being in fancy clothes and a unique location, malarkey and shenanigans inevitably ensues. The behind-the-scenes photos are usually more entertaining than the actual shoot… With the music festivals, there’s usually a road trip, car-pooling and light-night parties, so there’s plenty of non-singing time for people to hang out and get to know each other.

Naya choir members ‘Behind the Scenes’ at their 2014 photo shoot.
Naya members reacting to their photo shoot after seeing them for the first time.

How is new music approached in your choir?

Well, it depends on the piece. Sometimes it’s as simple as starting at the beginning and reading through, but our music is rarely that simple. ? So, often I’ll integrate small parts (harmonies, ostinatos, tricky melodies or rhythms) into warm-ups so that the singers know them aurally before they’re reading the dots. If it’s one of those “loud and/or fast” ones, I’ll usually try and start with a small but epic section and get that sounding good so that it builds some excitement with the group for what the piece will become.

Can you share with us a favorite piece of repertoire?

So many to choose from…! Go Down Moses (arr. David Wright) is pretty awesome. It starts strong, goes from epic power to agonising despair and back again, and ploughs through 7 key changes along the way. It really takes no prisoners! There’s even a spot for thunder and lightning towards the end. Could you ask for anything more?

Any funny moments with Naya Chorale?

My birthday happened to fall on the day of the dress rehearsal for a major concert and I wanted to run a really pretty arrangement we were doing of MLK by U2. The song starts with a soft, open 5th drone, and so I put on my serious face, sang the pitch and gave the first cue. You can imagine my surprise when I got a very boisterous rendition of Happy Birthday sung at me instead!   

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