A little background to this week’s song post:
The past couple of weeks I’ve spent a fair amount of energy in rehearsals for a choir I belong to called “The Oratorio Society of Virginia.“
Choral work is a huge part of my life and identity as a musician, and the more I know about business, the more I believe that all things in life and business aspire to the same consciousness and level of reality that those in choral music actively know and understand as the fundamental principles of “the way the world works.”
The awareness skills I’ve gained and honed as a chorister in excellent choirs directly translate to any gathering of 2 or more people, and I especially turn on my “group awareness” skills when I sing in sacred settings, tuning in and tuning out of what is going on in every inch of the room, with each person, grounding the sound and energy for the best sound to come out.
This week’s song: It’s not really a “song”, per se – you are hearing a tiny excerpt of a much larger “work” or “masterwork” that is about an hour long, written by the 18th century composer, Haydn.
You can read more about Franz Joseph Haydn’s 1798′s “Lord Nelson Mass” here.
The work includes different movements, which correspond to parts of the Catholic mass, and the choir performs with a 40 piece orchestra and 4 soloists.
Back in the day, it was very common for the great music to come out of the churches – the patrons with the money were with the church and paying the church musicians to create. Thus, gifted musicians making glorious music. Often in the name of God. Often in the form of musical mass settings.
This mass, as well as W.A. Mozart’s “Vespers“, were what we performed on Sunday 3/18/12 for our first spring concert.
About performing in a group this size: In case you were wondering, you don’t just “throw together” a performance like this unless you’re one of the most elite symphonic choirs full of singers who habitually rehearse masterworks in just a few rehearsals.
The Oratorio Society worked on these two hours of music for the last 10 weeks, so this represents the culmination of about 25 hours worth of work as an ensemble.
The following clip is NOT from our performance, but you may recognize this angelic piece – it is a part of the Mozart Vespers and appears after one of the darker, more stirring fugues, the “Laudate Pueri”.
I’ve sung this “Laudate Dominum” at a wedding as a prelude.
I snagged the excerpt as I ran into dress rehearsal a few minutes late on Saturday morning after seeing jean theory:through to its opening on the Historic Downtown Mall. This sound clip is so short because I had to hustle to my place on the front row!
Who: The Oratorio Society of Virginia is a 90 person choir based out of Charlottesville, Virginia. The conductor is Michael Slon, who is also the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Virginia.
I love singing for Professor Slon – he was my undergraduate advisor and choral conducting teacher 10 years ago, and he consistently takes ensembles to the spiritual place within pieces, getting there through precision of musical execution.
He always said, “Conduct at every opportunity you get – even if it’s just a whole note on the lawn. You show up and you conduct that thing with everything you’ve got.” It’s a great philosophy of dedication and commitment to making music – musically.
He inherited this choir this past fall and has done amazing things with it in the short period of time he’s been involved.
Why: Once I finally grounded in one city and not backpacking around the world, joining a choir is one of the most logical next steps.
I could pontificate at length about the benefits and beauties of being in a choir, but it is probably most easily summed up as I wrote on my friend’s Facebook wall the other night:
” The beauty of choirs…exercises in collective consciousness and connectedness to the body. Most sublime thing!”
I have found no other activity that challenges the brain and the body of both one person and a group of people to coordinate in such a way that can create the highest level of beauty possible such as singing in choirs can. Truly, new energy portals are opened up with excellent choral performances. Add some strings, brass, and stars and voila! We’ve got ourselves a super nova in the human realm.
And God said, “Let there be light.”