Last night at rehearsal I felt as though we really made Music. As we are getting closer to the performance, it is good to hear that the notes are finally sticking, rhythms and text are accurate, and nuance is being remembered. There were two specific instances where the singers made the music leap off the page in a sensitive and musical way. First, the chorus "His Yoke is Easy" was successful. There is a lyric, "his burden is light," that I adore because the T in the word LIGHT adds a terrific percussive element to the song. The orchestration is just strings, bassoon, and oboes. There are no drums or other percussion. However, when the singers employ a strong T, there is this terrific sound that occurs. I asked the Altos to pronounce their Ts a bit more because the word was coming across as LIE. When they added that T, the others started to add it and it felt like that spark I was going after really came to fruition. And the singers felt like it was fun--maybe they were trying to make me wipe my glasses off from their spit! :-)
The second really musical moment was when we sang the chorus, "For Unto Us a Child is Born." The choir sang it one time rather blandly and ho-hum. In the previous chorus, one of the basses reminded the chorus that I am giving them all the dramatic weight they need with my gesture. This made me realize the chorus is not watching what I am doing. So I asked them to watch me while I conducted the "Unto Us" chorus. I conducted each part's entrance, phrasing, weight, cut-offs, etc. as if they were singing. My charge to the chorus was to watch what I do and see if what my gesture was suggesting is congruent with the many verbal suggestions I have offered over the last 8 weeks. Virtually all singers agreed that, yes, my gesture matched an ideal sound we are working for. When they sang it a second time, it sounded and felt like a completely different piece of music. Very cool.
One of my new singers commented after rehearsal that she now understood why my title is Artistic Director and not just Choir Director--because we were making art last night. Musical Artistry.
We are getting close to performance. I am so excited for the music that will happen at performance.
Handel's MESSIAH will be performed by the Northwest Choral Society on Saturday, December 1, 7:30 pm at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 W Division, in River Forest, IL. www.nwchoralsociety.org