I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be back in session with the Glen Ellyn-Wheaton Chorale! Only two rehearsals into the season, and already I'm excited about the music-making. That is a testimony to the wonderful folks who make up this crew—the faithful souls (and voices!) who show up Tuesday after Tuesday to take part in this amazing thing we call choral singing.
It seems that every year, there is one piece of music that takes me by storm—that piece that reaches out and grabs my emotions in ways that are sometimes beyond explaining. Right now, it seems that that piece is Morton Lauridsen's Sure on This Shining Night. The text is from poet James Agee's 1934 collection Permit Me Voyage. Taken alone, the words are evocative and haunting. But the marriage of this text to the music of Morton Lauridsen is nothing short of breathtaking. There are moments in this setting that make me want to echo Agee's words: "I weep for wonder." Is it the words that are so moving, or is it the musical setting? The answer, I think, is "Yes." What would one be without the other?
And isn't that what choral music is all about? I sometimes remind my singers that, unlike violinists, flutists, and pianists, we choral musicians get the privilege—and the responsibility—of handling words. And what a privilege and challenge that is! Those of us who sing and conduct choral music have the awesome task of being the final link in a chain that began with a poet's words, continued with a composer's setting of those words, and comes to fruition in a performance meant to be heard. And who knows who will hear? Who knows who will be moved during that performance in ways that exceed explanation?
I like being a part of that kind of venture.