Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Berlioz REQUIEM-a look in the mirror

Wow! There's really just no other word for it. The experience of presenting this awesome, majestic, inspiring, thrilling work...this "Grande Messe des Morts" by French composer Hector Berlioz. It's been one of the most amazing experiences of my career as conductor of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir.

To the singers, to the orchestra, to audience...THANK YOU. YOU brought this ambitious project to fruition. Your energy helped the work to soar to the heavens last Saturday night.

A few days before our performance, members of the Symphonic Choir gathered at the end of rehearsal for a champagne toast, a sippable salute to the 75th anniversary of the Choir. Assistant Artistic Director Michael Davis and I led a couple of toasts. And then we invited the singers to contribute their own one or two word summary of what it means to sing in a choir like this. Their words filled the lobby of Circle Theater as they called them out...the very energy of the ideas whizzing about from left and right, in front and behind. You can read those words in the graphic at the top of this blog entry.

What a week!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


First off, where would all the chairs come from?

For our first combined Berlioz Requiem choral rehearsal last night, the urgent matter needing our attention was a simple one: how to seat such a huge number of singers?

Scheduled to meet in Butler University's Lilly Hall, we knew we'd have to borrow from somewhere. University maintenance brought us some, and we "raided" an empty adjacent classroom for some others. Whew!

Nearly 200 singers, all gathered in one place, turning their intellect, their vocal strength, their spirituality to one purpose. Cool.

It was an amazing rehearsal last night...we easily made it through the entire (90-minute long) work in our 2.75 hr rehearsal.

Such power...the "Tuba mirum" of the Dies irae, and the "Lacrymosa" are going to be simply stunning in their reverberant glory.

Such sensitivity...Berlioz gives us one of choral music's most sublime and nuanced motets of all time in the fifth movement of the Requiem, the "Quarens me." Set for a cappella chorus, its soaring, fervent lines convey both humility and hope. To lead such talented singers in such beautiful music was, well, let's just say that's going to be one of my favorite parts of the performance on Saturday.

The last time there was a performance of the Berlioz Requiem in Indianapolis was in the late 1970's. The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir brings this to you, our community, for the first time in over 30 years.

This coming Saturday, May 5, 2012. 8 pm at Hilbert Circle Theater (tickets and more info at www.indianapolissymphony.org)