As Proud as One Can Be

Two days ago, the cathedral choir sang under my direction at this year’s second Ordination Service. As a choirmaster as well as a fellow musician, it was an incredibly rewarding experience to see and hear once again the development of the choir in these part months.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I found suitable repertoire for this service among the pieces we had performed earlier this year. With only two rehearsals between our big concert and this service, starting on brand-new pieces seemed like a bad choice. Even more, there is value in coming back to recently studied works, not simply out of laziness, but to hone and improve them further.

I have for sure challenged the choir members this spring, introducing, for instance, entirely new music in styles that are unfamiliar to most, if not all, of the choristers. I have unrelentingly demanded attention to details like not only pronunciation but enunciation in general, as well as respecting things like written dynamics, rhythms, and rests.

Sloppy performances in rehearsals were rewarded with a lightly sarcastic (but kind!) response like “hmm, that was interesting”, which the choir eventually understood to mean that they had performed below specification, so to speak. “Don’t be lazy!” ended up becoming another recurring quip from me that I think may have rubbed some of the singers the wrong way initially, but as our mutual understanding of each other grew, they all understood it to be nothing more than a sharp, but well-meaning – and not unkind – reminder.

It was remarkable to me to hear the choir perform this past Sunday with such clear articulation, pitch control and musical awareness, to a greater degree in my opinion, than many times before.

My greatest Achilles heel as a conductor is not being able to accompany better from the piano, but this shortcoming also meant that the singers had to put in that much extra effort. Also, I have been able to compensate through my broader musical education, my deep experience as a chorister and a singer in general, combined with a certain pedagogical aptitude.

From all of this the choristers have certainly grown, both as individuals and as an ensemble. Per aspera ad astra, as the saying goes.

Now, I am more or less done with the last bits of work left before I can let summer well and truly begin. I intend to push myself to try and compose new pieces for two different composition competitions with deadlines in only ten days, Friday June 30th! One of them is for a choral work, which theoretically should pose less problems for me than the other, which is for a band work, a setting I have not yet written anything for!

Both of these competitions should prove exciting and interesting challenges, and I will update you, dear reader, on my progress in next week’s post, as well as whether or not I believe I will be able to submit either entry (or both).

Next week’s post will be the last one before a summer break from my blogging duties. Besides the aforementioned competitions, I would like to spend some time on a few other ideas for new works – and perhaps most of all, I want to resume working on house renovations. I would really like to return to the blog after summer with pictures of my new office-slash-studio. We shall see!

Categorised as Blog posts

Composer, arranger and songwriter for performance, recording, broadcast and interactive media.