Atlanta

Monday, January 9th, we made our way into Atlanta. Our only thing on the agenda for the day was a tour at CNN.

It was interesting to get a behind the scenes look at how the media world works. The remainder of the day was intended to rest our voices and our bodies. We went to the hotel and just hung out. Most of us took advantage of the wonderful restaurants in the area.

Tuesday was devoted to two high school clinics. The first was at DeKalb School of the Arts. Unfortunately due to time, the students were unable to sing for us. However, they were a wonderful audience and really appreciated our singing. We were treated to Chick-Fil-A box lunches for the bus ride to our next clinic at Walton High School. The assistant music teacher at the high school graduated from Westminster last year. It was the first day back from vacation for all of the students and they were a great audience.

It was a nice day to have some easy singing and just kind of review our music. I got thinking about how we perform the same music all the time on the tour. Yet, as a performer who rehearses and performs it multiple times in a day, it never gets old. There is obviously an individual responsibility for our own sake to find something new each time we perform it. However, each time we sing we’re constantly monitoring how well we individually do, how well our section does and how well the choir performs. Each time we rehearse before a performance we may look at one or two measures and strive to perfect them even further. Simply accepting what we have done in each prior performance would be okay, but that’s not what the Westminster Choir does. One of the great things about touring is that each time we sing our music it’s for a different group of people in a different space. Acoustically, the music has to be altered just slightly to account for the space and help with intonation and articulation. Perhaps the greatest force of renewal in the music is the fresh faces in the audience. Each time we perform the same music, it’s new to those people. It’s with their appreciation and their energy that allows us rekindle what made us love the music in the first place. It’s exciting to see the reactions of the audience members to each piece. On tour its been so moving to see everyone react when we start to sing our encore, Shenandoah. Everyone in the hall is transformed and moved, and it makes it new every time we sing it.

Wednesday we packed up and headed to the First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. It was another gorgeous space with very hospitable hosts. Earlier I talked about how we continue to rehearse and renew the music before each concert. Below is a photo of our rehearsal in that space where we all laid down close to one another and sang the sunrise section of the Dolly Parton piece. Lying like that caused us to feel that section with different sensations than we were used to, and it brought something new out of that moment in the music.

The concert was wonderful. It was a great space to sing in, and the audience was really great. In the audience were a lot of alumni, family and friends of the choir. One of the basses, Dan Elder, who also composed one of the highlights of the program was honored to have his family at the performance.
It was an emotional performance for many of us, realizing that we are a family through thick and thin and that we are so honored to be bonded by such a wonderful thing, and even more honored to be able to share that with so many.

About Westminster Choir

Westminster Choir is composed of students at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, a center for music study in Princeton, N.J.
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