Sunday, October 04, 2015

Something rediscovered.

Photo Credit: Orange County Register
I have rediscovered something these past few nights. The sheer joy of making music.

In returning to the Pacific Chorale - where I had sung for four brief but wonderful seasons - I have been deep in preparation and performance of the famous Beethoven 9th Symphony as part of the Pacific Symphony's opening week. And through three nights of rehearsals, and now 3 nights of performing, I have rediscovered a core truth of making music:

Make music that does not sacrifice musicality for perfection

One of my fellow Chorale members was commenting about the quality of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra compared to the ensembles "back east". And while I may concede that person's point to an extent (having once sung with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Seiji Ozawa is an experience yet to be duplicated), I would not trade any highbrow east coast experience for what I've enjoyed and watched these last few nights. Why?  Because of Carl St. Clair, Artistic Director of the Pacific Symphony.

Photo Credit: Orange County Register
Carl strives for perfection. Rehearsals are meticulous and productive. They have to be. This is not a "full-time" orchestra, but one made up of musicians that teach locally, or work in the Hollywood or L.A. music industry, or maybe play with the Symphony as an avocation - just like I sing with the Pacific Chorale as something I enjoy and benefit from. But what Carl does that is so dynamic is that his rehearsals are less about the technicality of the music, but about the music MAKING. He focuses on the expressiveness of the line, the slight changes of tempo that create a sense of the music being alive. Carl is expressive as a conductor, using his face, hands, fingers, baton and his entire physical being to elicit from the players music - and they respond. Certainly, we as singers respond to Carl. There is a great deal of mutual respect and affection between the singers of the Chorale, and Carl. And it shows in how we perform for him. 

Because the Chorale itself is always striving for the same thing as Carl does: perfection, but not at the sacrifice of making music. And for me, the last few nights of singing and performing MUSIC have been so wonderful, and I am so happy to be in a place where I can do that again.

Soli Deo Gloria.


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