Sunday, April 10, 2011

Five Days and Counting! Guest Author-Dr. Michael Davis

Artistic Director Eric Stark, Bach Scholar-in-Residence Vance George and Assistant Artistic Director Michael Davis--the artistic leadership team at the helm of this week's performances of the MASS IN B MINOR

I've been blessed for over 10 years to have at my side my best musical partner, Dr. Michael Davis. Michael brings decades of experience in professional music making to our work with the Symphonic Choir. For many years a member of the professional Robert Shaw Festival Singers in residence at Carnegie Hall, Michael and I are in constant dialogue regarding the progress of the Symphonic Choir. From auditions to rehearsal planning, repertoire to scheduling, Michael's contributions span many areas of the ISC. During one of our regular "post rehearsal seminars" (which often involve libation and a late dinner!) we were looking back at the years of work that so many people have given to this organization...years of work and dedication that make taking on a masterpiece of the magnitude even possible. With Michael's permission, I wanted to share some of his eloquent thoughts with you readers.

Michael Davis: Can you believe it.....production week for the B-minor Mass is finally here! We started talking about this day during our initial conversations for ISC many years ago now. We started rehearsing this piece with the choir 7 months ago--compared to our typical 6 week cycle. We started doing actual musical run-throughs two weeks ago. After all that time, planning, and preparation, Bach's voice is really starting to dance around the room.

The energy that continues to accumulate is astounding! As I reflect on what lies ahead of us in this next week I feel my personal artistic spirit rejuvinate and re-engage, eager to meet the unique demands and rewards that only this piece can offer. That energy and excitement seems to be overtly shared by the chorus. The room is literally buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Everyone feels something special is happening with us and to us.

If you'll pardon my mixed comparison of sports and finance, bringing this work to life has been a longer term investment with a deferred return. We all have been carefully budgeting, sacrificing, and investing substantial amounts of personal time over many, many months to create this nestegg of musical richness. And that discipline is truly starting to release the magic of this work and there is no question that all of us will be deeply rewarded on many levels as we put these performances up next week.

This process has also reminded me of marathon training. We have spent so much time building techniqe and learning how to negotiate the most difficult of vocal terrains. As with endurance training, this deliberate process has built quiet strength that is so subtle it is barely noticable until we start kicking the tempos closer and closer to performance standards and realize..."ok that felt like a longer stretch, but give me one more pass and I'll keep that pace."

There is no question this coming week will set new watermarks of artistic achievement for this organization. As always, I am thrilled and equally humbled to be a part of it--so bring it on coach and see you Monday!


ES: Well said, MD! (And I particularly like his usage of Bach's abbreviation of "S.D.G."..."Soli Deo Gloria" To God Alone Be the Glory.)

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