Today is Friday, yesterday was Thursday, tomorrow is Saturday, fun, fun, fun, fun...
My Friday began with witnessing some strong concert sessions. The first was the Rex Putnam High School choir directed by John Baker, who is retiring this year after thirty-three years in the biz. Some really strong singing of repertoire outside the norm, not a single "ho-hum we know that American work" in the mix. Whoever inherits this choir will have big shoes to fill, but hopefully they will have their own great musical personality and simply continue a very strong tradition.
The choir that totally blew people away in the AM session was the Riverside City College Chamber Singers directed by John Byun. Their great singing was not a surprise to me, as I heard them a year ago at ACDA Tucson. What I did notice this year was that any tendency toward oversinging that I mentioned in my blog from a year ago was totally gone, bravo to Mr. Byun (read that review here). The singing was dead-on for every change in mood, displayed a nice variety of choral colors, an extraordinary dynamic range, and so on-- this was the whole package that people dream of when singing at such an important event. The audience was wowed by them, and they finished up with a Stacey Gibbs spiritual "Way over in Beulah Land" that Moses Hogan would have been happy to witness. I'm not a big Stacey Gibbs fan, but maybe I just haven't heard a choir sing his arrangements with this much understanding of the importance of beat weight that needs to be there in a spiritual, whether fast or slow. Byun is a talent to watch- keep in mind, this is a great choir at a junior college. I'm guessing there is a large turnover in this choir simply due to that fact, yet the performances they deliver are incredible.
After the AM concert, Reg Unterseher and I corralled Anuna founder Michael McGlynn for a short lunch meeting. Michael only had 15- 20 minutes to spare in his schedule but he really did want to meet some American composers and talk about all sorts of things. We were having such fun and delving into great discussions about topics such as the exciting future of ACDA, the accelerating demise of the traditional publishers extremely antiquated business model and our personal take on the already in progress composer revolt against that business model(more on that in an upcoming post), and other items that the short meeting turned into a two hour marathon of great discussion. It was great to hear how Michael views the choral world from his home in Ireland, and the ways in which things there differ so much from here in the US. Michael is brilliant, funny, and sincere. I was honored to be able to lunch with him Friday and then hook up again Saturday afternoon for a session which also included Reg, Samford University and ChoralNet awesome guy Philip Copeland, Philip's ace grad student Nick Cummins, and composer Sidney Guillaume.
Sidney Guillaume, Philip Copeland, Michael McGlynn, me, Nick Cummins, Reg Unterseher
After that I swung by the exhibits and said hi to the Lorenz/Dean folks again, said a quick hi to Mike Scheibe and Tim Sharp who both seemed cool and calm and enjoying the fruits of their labors, and also ran into Joan Szymko again. Joan and I also went by the IMP (Independent Music Publishers) booth, the young upstart rebel composers who are breaking away from the traditional publishing scheme. The folks in the core of this co-op are Minnesota composers Abbie Betinis, Jocelyn Hagen, Linda Tutas Haugen, J, Edward Moore, and Tim Takach. They have also enlisted older, established composers like Joan and Wayland Rogers. The mood at their very busy booth was electric and I will talk more about this in a few days.
Form there I went to visit the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory reception at Earl Rivers' condo building on the lake-what a view! A whole bunch of cool people were there including Earl, Brett Scott, Robyn Lana, Glenda Crawford, Susan Medley (who I met a couple years ago when I wa guest conducting in Pittsburgh), the top staff from ChorusAmerica and a whole slew of other very talented nice people (egads, who have I slighted by not mentioning?). This was a lovely reception. I will be in Cincy in early May-- Robyn Lana commissioned me to write two pieces for the conservatory children's choir, and I actually set two poems written by young choir members. I'm really looking forward to meeting the choir and working with them, and especially looking forward to meeting my young text/music collaborators!
I then headed off to the Lorenz/Roger Dean reception which was a pretty swanky top drawer food and drinks event. There I met David Devenney for the first time and I told him how much I admire his conducting books, especially the work he has fdown with movement on the rehearsal room, something I an doing more and more at the North Carolina Governor's School (heck, I'm even booking the small dance studio for all our AM rehearsals there this summer!). Can't sing unless you know how to move, I say!
David Devenney with Scott Foss
So after all this being ooot and abooot it was a joy to happen across Paul LaPrade and Sarah Graham, and for us Illinoisians to retreat to a quiet dinner. This ninety minutes or so felt great- just to be with some close friends-- Paul and Sarah are two of mah favorite peeps! We also all have young childeren (hey with childeren, it's bewilderin'-- you don't know until the seed is nearly grown, just what you've sown)---so we talked about planting radishes (they're dependable, they're befriendable) and other parental stuff without worrying that we were boring non-parents at the table (since there weren't any!).
From there MSU grad Sarah and I mosied over to the Michigan State reception (I've been commissioned by the children's choir there a bunch of times, and Sandra Snow has premiered one or two of my pieces). The room was packed and I ran into Sandra Snow of course, and also Jonathan Palant, Cara Tasher, Meredith Bowen, and was especially happy to chat with Rick Bjella, who I was sorry to see leave Lawrence Conservatory a couple years ago to go to Texas Tech. Rick has always been a great source of advice and is a great guy. And then it was time to push off toward my Oak Park home and another fifteen hour day has gone by...!
Coming up: The final day, starting with an 8 AM (gulp) reading session I needed to be at, and amazing performances all through the day
To the readers
7 years ago