I enjoy Yogi Berra-isms. You know what I mean—pithy quotes that have a bit of quirkiness about them. For example, "Always go to other people's funerals . . . otherwise they won't come to yours." Or, "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
I've discovered that the musical world has its own Yogi Berra. His name is Eugene Ormandy. Ormandy, who died in 1985, was for many years the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. A quick Google search will turn up some of his wonderfully quirky sayings. Here are just a few:
(Looking out over the orchestra) Who is sitting in that empty chair?
I am thinking it right but beating it wrong (I think every conductor loves that one!).
Something went wrong. It was correct when I studied it.
Don't ever follow me because I am difficult.
Wouldn't it have been fun to play in Maestro Ormandy's orchestra?
I also love quotes about music and music-making that are a bit more serious. Consider this:
Music is always a community enterprise. The solo performance does not exist. Even its creation is an attempt to communicate, and every performance an effort to unite the minds of men even of different generations.
That statement comes from a mission statement of sorts. It was the mission statement of the Collegiate Chorale, founded by the dean of American choral music, Robert Shaw. I think that it communicates volumes about what choral singing should be: a community effort in which the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Whether the chorus is singing a januty sea shanty, or a larger work like the Fauré Requiem, when you release the last note of the piece, you should feel that you've just been a part of something bigger than yourself—something you simply couldn't have done alone.
Now for the commercial (you knew it was coming!). Maybe it's time to ask yourself if you've been missing this kind of musical community. The kind of community that comes from uniting your voice with 50 or 60 others to create (or maybe better to say re-create) a musical experience that you could never have on your own. It's the kind of thing we're about at the Glen Ellyn-Wheaton Chorale.
This summer, we're auditioning for all voice parts. Maybe you should consider it! Audition dates are August 13 and 20. More information is on this website.
Maybe Eugene Ormandy's question is for you: Who is sitting in that empty chair? Maybe the answer is you!
Music Director, Glen Ellyn-Wheaton Chorale