The past two days have been insanity and imperfect perfection. Not only have I had the incredible pleasure of singing two motets in the Thomaskirche over the past two days, but I have been able to watch one best friend conduct and sing next to another for the third time in the same space. I am so lucky.
I have learned so much about my craft this week. Each conductor imparts incredible wisdom on the singers: new warmups, new vocal techniques for producing specific sounds, and new euphemisms for achieving ideal vocal placement--my favorite! I am a much better singer because of what I have done this week.
Tomorrow morning, Sunday, is our final service at the Thomaskirche. The Chorale members will head to Berlin to catch a morning flight, and a few of the conductors and older singers--including myself--will enjoy one more wonderful day in this musical city. Tomorrow we will also get to sing one of my all-time favorite choral pieces, Morten Laurdisen's "O Nata Lux."
Okay, so sometimes not everything goes as planned.
By Monday morning, all six conductors had arrived and the workshop was ready to begin. As the clock began to inch toward the scheduled 9:30 downbeat, those in charge began to wonder, "Where is the accompanist?"
When she finally arrived it became clear that due to a communication error she was only just receiving the music that morning, which led to, of course, an interesting state of musical affairs. As she plodded through the not easily plodded Mozart and Bach scores, each conductor began to stress. Could they rehearse at the tempos they had planned? Could she understand the instructions they were giving?
As she would fall further behind the conductor's beat, so would the choir. It was a mess.
After a while, however, it all began to click.
No matter what mistakes you hear, look. Listen. Breathe together.
Choral singing is all about ensemble--a unified voice. Some people in the roo...
Venite, populi, venite
de longe venite
Come, o peoples, come;
come from afar
The city of Leipzig loves its classical music--and not just that of J.S. Bach! Austrian-born composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a child prodigy (could the next Mozart be studying at HGS?!), wrote 41 symphonies; countless concertos for instruments like the piano, violin, and flute; sonatas; duets; trios; quartets; quintets; marches, dances; masses; and just about every compositional style you can imagine! He is even famous for writing his own Requiem funeral service (a masterful work that I got to perform at Carnegie Hall my sophomore year of high school)!
This week, we are performing two of his motets with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra: Regina Coeli, k.276, and Venite Populi, k.260. Much like a BWV number, the "k" is an abbreviation for the name Ludwig Von Köchel, the man who catalogued his works. It also provides chronology, so...
Wilkommen in Leipzig! Today we joined members of the Chorale who are singing in the master class at the Pavillion der Hoffnung. I was able to see the entire Chorale perform a Saturday evening motet at the Thomaskirche yesterday; it was so odd to be on the audience side! They were, of course, fantastically well- received.
Tomorrow we begin to work with each conductor on their pieces, including two of the acapella works, "Give Me Jesus" and "Prayer." Both pieces are stunning in their own right, but I am especially excited to sing Larry Fleming's arrangement of the African American spiritual "Give Me Jesus," as I sang it in the Thomaskirche with the Chorale in 2010, my freshman year of college. Plus, one of my best friends will be conducting it this time!
René Clausen's "Prayer" is an oft-performed but always beautiful work based on the text of Mother Theresa's daily prayer:
Help me spread Your fragrance wherever I go,
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Guten Tag! Today is the day that my spectacular conductor friend and I board our plane and fahren nach Deutschland. We’ll arrive in Berlin in the middle of the day (but it will feel like the middle of the night!) and then travel by bus to the Hauptbahnhof, or train station, in Leipzig. Leipzig is a relatively small but vibrant city filled with incredible historical significance—and not just to the music world.
A few blocks from the Hauptbahnhof and directly across the cobblestone street from where we stayed in 2010 and 2012 is the St. Nicholas Church, or the Nikolaikirche. The architecture and acoustics are stunning, and many of Bach’s compositions were debuted or performed there, both during his tenure as Cantor of the Thomaskirche and after his death in 1750. The sanctuary is slightly smaller than that of the Thomaskirche, but the building itself is an enormous symbol of hope and possibility. After World War II, the city of Leipzig was right in the middle of communist East Germany...
Hello, HGS family and friends! I am so excited to share my experiences with you as I travel to Leipzig, Germany, to sing in the St. Thomas Church, the musical home of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Valparaiso University, my Alma Mater, developed a relationship with the St. Thomas Church—the Thomaskirche auf Deutsch—that began with the Chorale’s first trip to Germany in 2004. I was fortunate enough to tour Germany with the Chorale in 2010 and again in 2012, when the city of Leipzig signed an official Friendship Agreement with Valparaiso University. After graduating in 2013, I became a member of the Bach Choir at the Bach Institute at Valpo. This weekend, I will join members of the Chorale already in Leipzig to form an ensemble that will serve as the liturgical choir for the three services at the Thomaskirche next weekend.
Before we perform for the congregation, we will spend the week intensively rehearsing as part of a master class given by the conductor of the Valparaiso University...