Only one more Wednesday choir rehearsal this season. People are dropping off like flies. Some of this is the early Easter season this year. But it’s hard not to speculate on changing patterns of people’s behavior. I notice that my small group of singers are very active in the local community as musical resources. My soprano who also plays viola has been hired away from us for Pentecost by the local mega church for an orchestra production that day. She feels torn between remaining loyal and singing at her church which she dearly loves and making $150 for a gig. I am very sympathetic because my choir members do not tend to be rich people at Grace. They are highly self actualized and tend to get involved in stuff from a personal motivation. I like and encourage that. And when one of my sopranos can earn badly needed funds I try to downplay her guilt and encourage to do what she has to do.
In the meantime I strategize to come up with stuff to keep the people who show up and myself motivated. This has worked pretty well this past spring choral season. We are down to preparing three anthems for our last three Sundays. This Sunday’s anthem is a rousing setting of the African American Spiritual, “I know the Lord’s laid his hands on me.”
Next week at our last rehearsal we will have our hands full continuing to learn a slightly challenging recently composed anthem in the Anglican style (“O Love! O Life!” by Stephan Casurella). After last night’s rehearsal several singers were surprised that this little baby was falling together, surprised and experiencing a sense of personal satisfaction. Desired effect achieved.
As we come down to the last rehearsals, I shorten them at will. The goal is to make it as high a quality experience of singing as possible. This seems to be working well this year.
For myself, I have written a little postlude for our last Sunday using violin, cello, and piano. In addition, I have gotten inspired to transcribe’s Doris Akers own vocal licks that she improvises over her song being sung by a male quartet. I think it would be cool to have my sopranos (Probably doubled on the violin) sing these licks on Pentecost on our annual rendition of “It’s a Sweet Sweet Spirit.”
I’m about half way through transcribing them. Eileen wondered last night if they would work at the tempo we sing the song. We sing it a bit faster than the Akers rendition above, but I also add a much more intense driving Gospel feeling with gospel piano licks. I told Eileen I think the Akers vocal parts will work with this style and at the tempo we do the song.
All this keeps me connected at at time when the situation is fraught with discouraging aspects of absences and inattention.
Yesterday, Rhonda was wondering out loud if it made sense to perform Arvo Pärt’s Mein Weg hat Gipfel und Wellentäler for American audiences.
I pointed out that I have done this piece at church and since not many people seem to pay attention to my playing, I chose to do so in this kind of environment.
This “kind of environment” compels people like me to do stuff they love because they love it, not for recognition or even tons of money. I’m good with that.