ENCOUNTERS WITH BACH
I love my job. Not only do I work with wonderfully dedicated and talented musicians day in and out, I get to study, rehearse and perform the greatest music ever written. As conductor of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir (www.indychoir.org) I receive this amazing privilege again and again. Already this season I've led performances of Rachmaninoff's ALL-NIGHT VIGIL and Handel's MESSIAH.
And now I get the privilege of conducting two performances of JS Bach's MASS IN B MINOR with the Symphonic Choir (ISC) and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO), on April 15-16, 2011.
This humbling opportunity is one to which I've aspired for decades. My first experience with this masterpiece came in fall of 1988 when, as a new student in the Master's in Choral Conducting degree program at Indiana University, I had the great fortune of being cast in Dr. Jan Harrington's University Singers (despite the fact that I had no voice to speak of!), and our first concerts were performances of this very work.
In the years since that time, I've had the B minor mass on my "list." Yet I've wanted to make sure I was ready for the many challenges, musical/scholarly/spiritual, it would present. So after many years of training and study, and even more years "in the profession," the time is at hand. Gulp!
Conducting anything--the shortest octavo, the simplest chorale--requires an intense investment of time, energy and effort. The standing up and waving of the arms is, in many ways, the least part of the process (though it IS the part through which the fruits of the preparation are revealed). Conducting a major work like this is a combination of score study, research, listening, more score study, thoughtful reflection, rehearsals, further score study, inquiry, and preparing one's psyche to approach the performances with a centered calm that will admit the impulse of the muse, if one is so lucky.
This process is one that has always been rewarding to me, even apart from the riches of the on-stage experience.
So, for those who may be interested--my singers, my students, fans of this incredible work--I'll endeavor to record on this blog some of my own journey for the next months. Stuff I'm listening to, stuff I'm reading, seeing, thinking, I'll share that here, in hopes that in some way, you may be brought closer to a work which holds so much profound meaning to so many.