It’s really fun being part of the audience at a Windward Choral Society concert. Scanning the group as the singing rolls out is an amazing contrast in styles and presentation; some very serious, some with big smiles, some absolutely CANNOT stand still…good fun. It also can, from time to time, yield a surprise or two.
Like…making a tear sneak into my eyes. Twice. You are truly evil.
And when you did the impossible. Seriously impossible. A group that size has an interesting dynamic in that it will transform en masse in some interesting ways and keeping things steady-state can be a true challenge. There are some things that Susie can’t conduct or cajole or drag along no matter how she waves her arms or makes funny faces and the BIG one is staying on pitch.
When the choir is singing a cappella.
For freakin’ ever.
And then the instruments come in to tell you how you did.
There aren’t many things that scare a conductor much more than that because it’s completely out of their control and there’s no real way to tell how it’s going to end. If ONE person starts to slide a little bit, the core sound of the group can easily be dragged along that route to danger. We adjust to keep things sounding “right”, starting with the singers adjacent to the one on the move and spreading slowly to the entire group. It doesn’t take much to make it icky, either. If you think of the steps between each of the notes of “do-re-mi”, getting out of whack by one EIGHTH of that is a little grating. One quarter is a disaster.
So there I was, listening to the “Peace Flows” section of the Trotta work and the strings just stopped. Tommy took a nap. And the singing kept rolling and rolling and rolling (and that little tear I mentioned earlier took shape). And then the strings came in and it was as if they’d never left…the pitch was perfect. I was an adrenaline-drive combination of stunned and thrilled and I have no doubt that everybody in the audience who isn’t a singer thought that was how it’s always done. Well…it’s not. A volunteer choir in a church that really deadens the sound has to be really, really on their game to pull that off and I hope you’re proud of yourselves. I suspect Susie is jacked up about it in a big way.
Of course, now you have to do it again. Don’t take your eyes off the prize. You already know what you’re capable of and some of us know how hard you had to work to get there.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a tissue.