Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Memorable Music

Chamber Choir is in the process of preparing a concert that I think will be one of the great highlights of my choral experience. After a very successful rehearsal last night, I got to thinking about the other concert experiences that had a profound and lasting impact on me, both as a performer and an audience member. They felt like blog-worthy material, so here we go...

Identifying two favourite performing experiences is easy. The first is Ein Deutches Requiem, or more commonly, the Brahms Requiem. This was my first concert with Orchestral Choir, and only my second concert ever with orchestra. The conductor was Montreal phenom Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who was able to glean such power and expression and subtlety from the choir that when the last notes of the final movement faded away at the end of the performance, none of the 1,500 people in the audience moved. There was a full 10 or 15 seconds of silence before anyone dared clap. It was an exhausting experience, but the concert is a highlight I will remember for the rest of my life.

The second was a performance of the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil last year with Chamber Choir. Several factors combined to make this project memorable. First, the All-Night Vigil has one of the greatest alto parts ever written in the choral repertoire. I would sing it again and again and again, if I could. Second, the choir was lucky to have a resident bass with a vast knowledge of both the Russian language and the Eastern Orthodox tradition, knowledge from which we benefitted greatly. It was also a treat to see his joy at being able to share so much of what was clearly so dear to him. Lastly, the choir really came together on performance day with an energy and a passion that we hadn't really seen in the rehearsal process. The result was astonishing, for all of us, and made us all so proud of the work we had done.

Others that have stuck in my mind include Messiah, both performing it for the first time, and being in the audience a year or two ago to see the whole thing (no cuts) conducted from the harpsichord, and my very first concert with orchestra, which was a performance of Dvorak's Te Deum.

And one particular concert of the many Chamber Choir performed on tour in England and Scotland this last summer. On our second full day on tour, we performed in Dunblane Cathedral in Scotland. Dunblane is a beautiful town, but you can feel the weight of devastating tragedy, and see the fragility in the faces of the people there, who were so kind and welcoming to us. In the Cathedral, there is a monument to the child victims of the shooting in 1996. One side of the memorial reads, "But still I dream that somewhere there must be the spirit of a child that waits for me." - from The Poet's Journal Third Evening by Bayard Taylor (1825-78).

I have so much to thank music for, not the least of which these few amazing experiences through which my world and perspective were permanently altered.

1 comment:

jledmiston said...

You sound like such an amazing person. Thanks for a good post.