Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WOW! That was amazing (ite missa est)

Photos in today's post courtesy of Tim Carlson

I've waited several days to write this post, simply due to the fact that I've been struggling for the words I might actually use. Performing this work...finally, after so many years of study, questioning, beyond anything I've done before!

The experience of bringing the B minor mass to life was exhilarating. Final rehearsals, coachings with the fabulous four soloists (from left to right, above: Maria Jette, Jennifer Lane, Brian Stucki and Derrick Parker), and working with the magnificent musicians of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. After all that prep, the final "putting together" went smoothly. And boy, did it sound great!
Sharing a moment with Scholar-in-Residence Vance George

It's a good thing all was in such good shape. Our time in rehearsal with orchestra, soloists and chorus on stage did not permit any unplanned minutes. In fact, our final rehearsal, calculated at 2.5 hours (7:30-10 pm) had to include a mandatory break for all (not that we didn't appreciate it!), leaving just 2 hours and 15 minutes to "rehearse" a work that is 1 hour and 55 minutes in length. I always like to do a full run-thru on dress rehearsal night, and we finished that up at 9:43 or so. Spent the next 10 minutes touching up a couple of transitions and balance place, and even let everyone go about 45 seconds early!

ISC troops in action!

On performance night...I was just so proud of everyone. Soloists, orchestra, audience who came to hear one of the most amazing musical works ever. But mostly I was proud of and happy for the singers in the Symphonic Choir. They've worked so hard to achieve this, learning this most demanding repertoire alongside Rachmaninoff Vespers, Handel's Messiah, our Festival of Carols, Haydn Creation and a wonderful ISO Pops concert in March. Their work, dedication and talent guaranteed our success.

In my own preparation, I wondered how it might feel to conduct--finally--the "Dona Nobis Pacem," the last movement of Bach's mass. How would it be to lead and hear the brilliant musical strains of that D major "Palestrinian Arch," with the glorious trumpets on top? It was miraculously incredible! Though all on stage were exhausted, somehow each mustered the energy to bring this piece to its magnificent conclusion. And the crowd was with us...standing ovations and (as Michael Davis says) "war whoops" for the chorus. It was amazing.

After Saturday's performance, I was surprised with a beautiful gift from my singers and ISC staff: a pair of sterling silver cufflinks from Tiffany & Co., engraved with the initials "S.D.G." for Soli Deo Gloria, Latin for "To God alone be the glory." Bach was in the habit of inscribing the last page of each of his manuscripts with those initials. It was a perfect way to commemorate such a significant occasion.


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