Last night, I attended a Pittsburgh Camerata rehearsal, not able to execute controlled, properly pitched phonation at all. It’s frustrating when your identity is so connected to your singing voice and you can’t sing!
But there were two major benefits to just sitting and listening…
First…when you are focusing all your energy on listening, you develop a deeper understanding of how the piece works sonorously, how the harmony functions, how the melody unfolds, how the rhythmic nature plays out, and probably most importantly, how the piece grows from beginning to end. You can make mental and physical notes about how you can successfully contribute and fit into the texture. It gave me a more informed understanding of the conductor’s vision for the music as well.
Second…silently sitting amongst my talented colleagues, I was reminded how much I love choral music. I love conducting – it’s the focus of my life’s work. But friends, I LOVE being part of a choir. Last night, I got to sit in the choir and just listen. It was a balm for my weary soul. There were a few moments when I just closed my eyes and let the sounds surrounding me soak into my ears. With my eyes closed, flashes of specific memories – times spent singing with friends and colleagues from across the years – flooded my inner vision. Those harmonies, those sensitively blended voices, the different colors around me had a healing effect.
Thank you friends, colleagues, and students for your music. Even in a time when things are challenging, you remind me that there is still music. And sometimes…if just for an instant…that can be enough to restore the spirit.