I spent Thursday - Saturday conducting the 2007 All-West Tennessee Honor Choir and it was an incredible experience. The students were extremely well-prepared--I didn't have to teach them one note. They listened intently to everything that I said. Because they were so well taught, I spent most of the time shaping musical lines and talking about what the music means and how to perform it best.
The teaching in the Memphis area is at an incredibly high level. I've admired some of the teachers there for a very long time. Overall, I've never seen students better prepared or so willing and capable to take musical instruction. The event was very well run by all those involved. I'm especially thankful to Paul Whited for asking me to do this event.
We did these works:
1. Fanfare for a Festival (Ron Nelson)
2. Abendlied (Rheinberger)
3. Rise Up My Fair One (Healy Willan)
4. In Remembrance (Jeffrey Ames)
5. There Shall a Star From David (Mendelssohn)
6. Sicut Cervus (Palestrina)
7. Domaredansen (arr. Bengt Hallberg)
They did great work on all the pieces, especially Domaredansen. I've done that work with three honor choirs and this choir really nailed it. Our most nuanced work was probably Willan's "Rise Up" but Rheinberger's "Abendlied" was also well done. The choir helped me come to a new understanding of the Mendelssohn piece in the musical ideas in the "There shall a star" motive and "and dash in pieces." The Ames' "In Remembrance" was probably the choir's favorite. They loved the dramatic middle part with the text "Oh God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me." And let me tell you . . . 240 talented singers singing that music is a powerful and moving experience.
If I had one regret about the performance, it was the Palestrina "Sicut Cervus." In rehearsal, the choir sang it as well as any group I've ever conducted--very sensitive and incredibly nuanced. In the performance, it reverted back to it's pre-rehearsal state . . . something that happens when the pressure is on in a performance situation. The fault was mine, of course. I need to be more proactive in finding a solution to that common problem . . . I even anticipated it happening but wasn't able to prevent it.
Overall, it was an outstanding honor choir experience. I absolutely loved it.
1. Seeing all my friends and former students that have become my friends and colleagues.
2. Working and talking with Judy Bowers
3. The one bite of some chocolate desert at YaYa's . . . wow.
4. Seeing such outstanding teaching from graduates of Jerry Jordan's Concert Singers. Members of that choir are forever linked in a wonderful bond of musical excellence, inside jokes, legendary stories, and compelling life experiences.
The students were nice enough to help me create this greeting for my three daughters, Catherine, Caroline, and Claire . . the girls that make my life complete.