Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
PREPARING FOR FESTIVAL OF CAROLS | DR. ERIC STARK
This year the Symphonic Choir celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding, so we knew we had to plan a Festival of Carols concert that would be worthy of this impressive milestone. And, since having an orchestra on hand to accompany the choir always makes us feel special, we knew that having a group of professional orchestral musicians was the first step. Once our good friends at the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra confirmed they were on board, it was time to start the long process of choosing the music!
I suppose every choral conductor is always on the prowl for good Christmas music. In fact, at nearly every conducting conference I attend, “What’s your favorite Christmas piece?” is a question my colleagues and I ask each other...suffice it to say, the bartenders at the conference watering holes are probably surprised to hear their conductor-patrons talking about antiphonal anthems, Renaissance motets and Latin prayers over their fermented beverages!
For me, those conferences can yield a trove of potential works for our concerts. I usually fill my carry-on bag with CD’s I’ve picked up, as well as stacks of printed music. Then, over the summer months, I wade through it all...listening, playing, singing and studying to see what will work the best.
This year’s process was unique, since I did most of my music study at my suite at the Hotel Santa Cruz during my 2-week residency in Bolivia in July. In between rehearsals, interviews and master classes, I studied and listened. And, since fortunately my hotel room had wi-fi, I had the entire World Wide Web at my fingertips for further exploration if a composer or text interested me. I suppose you could say it was the South American winter that inspired me...high temps just in the 50s each day, and no heat in any of the buildings anywhere. I was bundled up in my sweater and a borrowed jacket, so it sure felt like Christmas was just around the corner.
I’ve always loved the way British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams sets familiar tunes for voices and orchestra. I’ve been hoping to do his “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” for chorus, orchestra and baritone soloist for some time, and thus we have our first winner for this year’s concert!
Other works you’ll hear and in many cases recognize: John Rutter’s setting for chorus and orchestra of the exuberant “On This Day” made famous by Holst, a nod to Bing Crosby with “White Christmas,” the beautiful “Ubi Caritas” sung at the April wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, and a haunting work by one of the founders of The King’s Singers, “Put Memory Away,” by Bob Chilcott. This year will be the third year of our composition competition...a way the Symphonic Choir can highlight the impressive work being done by the new generation of composers...and I’m delighted to say that our winning composer will be with us to hear the world premiere of her creation (we’ll “unwrap” that present later!)
The singers in the Symphonic Choir look forward to rehearsing Festival of Carols every year. This is music that speaks to us, that evokes special memories, and that communicates our common wish for hope and peace. And of course, the singers - and I - will be thinking of YOU during our rehearsals, eager to share the music, the joy and the spirit of season at one of our Festival of Carols performances. Whether you choose to hear us in downtown Indianapolis at St. John Catholic Church or on the north side at St. Elizabeth Seton in Carmel, we look forward to sharing the Choir’s 75th anniversary, the magic of the season and the music with each of you.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I had a lot of fun today! After a good night's sleep in a very large bed in my room at the Hotel Santa Cruz (just 3 blocks from the Cathedral and civic plaza), I ventured to the hotel's breakfast buffet. Plenty to eat--sliced fruit, some cheese and ham, cereal, pastries, yogurt, juice and coffee. Shared my table with Felix (violinist from Germany who will be a featured soloist on the first part of the concert that "my" choral work will conclude) and Melissa (his friend and dancer/choreographer, whom Roland has asked to help prepare a project for an upcoming season). Felix and Melissa arrived on the AeroSur overnight flight from Madrid, landing at 2 am, and arriving at the hotel around 5. They looked pretty good considering all that!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
... I'll be going back to Bolivia this summer to conduct Mozart's "Coronation" Mass! Some of you know I've been twice before; it'll be great to return and see the talented singers and instrumentalists I've come to know over the last few years.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
TEN THINGS I LOVED ABOUT THE ISC’S B MINOR MASS
1) Our dedicated board didn’t shirk from the challenge of mounting TWO PERFORMANCES of this masterpiece…in Hilbert Circle Theatre…with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
2) This has given nearly 100 of our most dedicated and talented singers the chance to hone their skills far beyond that which any other work may have offered…we will accrue musical benefits from this for a loooong time to come.
3) The board home events—truly fabulous events, intimate, warm, fun, classy…a wonderful way to engage a new cadre of friends to the organization.
4) Our soloists….wow! What a quartet of INCREDIBLE musicians! They were terrific to work with…fun, easy, so professional and musical.
5) Community marketing effort for this event was TOP NOTCH…we had terrific saturation, community-wide event recognition, and we spent our $$ incredibly wisely.
6) THE ISC STAFF IS WORLD CLASS! I can’t imagine any organization anywhere that’s blessed with such talented, dedicated employees. We are incredibly blessed indeed in this regard.
7) Great audiences…quantity AND quality. How about those “War Whoops”(as Michael Davis calls them) for the singers in the choir??!!
8) We showed our collaborating partners, and the community at large, that we are fully capable of bringing works like this to life…with authenticity, and artistic, musical and financial success.
9) We gave life to the voice of Bach for nearly 2,000 people…most of whom heard this piece live for the first time at our performances.
10)Exposed to this incredible repertory, each of us was challenged in ways we could never have anticipated, and rewarded with a surprising abundance of riches we are still discovering on a daily basis.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
We've been singing some Copland lately...on tour especially, where we closed our concerts with two choruses from his opera THE TENDER LAND. Its story centers on family members at a farm in the midwest, as daughter Laurie graduates from high school and ultimately leaves her family behind to see what the world has in store for her.
The promise of living with hope and thanksgiving
Is born of our loving our friends and our labor.
The promise of growing with faith and with knowing
Is born of our sharing our love with our neighbor.
The promise of loving, the promise of growing
Is born of our singing in joy and thanksgiving.
For many a year we’ve know these fields
And know all the work that makes them yield.
We’re ready to work, we’re ready to lend a hand.
By working together we’ll bring in the blessings of harvest.
We plant each row with seeds of grain,
And Providence sends us the sun and the rain.
By lending a hand, by lending an arm
Bring out the blessings of harvest.
Give thanks there was sunshine, give thanks there was rain,
Give thanks we have hands to deliver the grain.
The promise of living, the promise of growing
The promise of ending is labor and sharing and loving.