The WSO warmly thanks the Greensburg-East Hempfield, Mount Pleasant Township, and Youngwood Lions Clubs for providing funding for braille transcription of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy for soprano Beth Smaligo. We recently talked to Beth about her process for preparing for her first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth.
When did you start singing?
I’ve been singing since I was about five. I was in the children’s choir at church where my mom was the director. From then on, I sang in several choirs growing up.
As a vocalist how do you prepare to sing a new piece of music?
When I sing I have both hands free to read the braille, unlike instrumental music which I have to memorize. My preparation for a new vocal piece is not much different from my sighted peers. However, I do have to juggle reading the words and notes simultaneously, which is a bit of a challenge. I am given only my part to sing, not the full score. If I were to get the full score, it would take up many more braille pages. Transcribing music from print to braille takes a long time, but there was plenty of lead time before the first rehearsal in this case, so my transcriptionist was able to get my music to me at the same time everyone else received theirs.
What do you like most about singing with the WSO Chamber Singers?
I am new to the WSO Chamber Singers and I like the team aspect of singing in an ensemble. While I did not pursue a degree in music, I have a music minor from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and generally enjoy music very much.