First day of the spring semester, and the day of our Homecoming concert!
We have been (mostly) without the company of the choir for over a week, and our regular lines of communications (email, Facebook group) have been flooded with messages of love from the members recounting fun tour memories and lamenting quiet rooms and dinners out where it isn’t necessary to call ahead for a table for 40.
After a full day of classes, we arrived at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, a beautiful venue on the historic campus. In the summer, the final concert for the Summer Choral Festival takes place here. Last summer, we performed the Bach B Minor Mass and I couldn’t help but hear the triumphant trumpets that open the Gloria when we were setting up for the Homecoming Concert.
Our rehearsal before the performance went beautifully – we were all a little shell-shocked from the first day of the new semester, but it was just so nice to see everyone again and to be singing our music. Dr. Miller had a special addition for this concert: we sang Der Geist Hilft with continuo and a portative. Because there was very limited rehearsal time for the two cellists, bassist, and keyboardist to absorb our articulation, at one point in the rehearsal Dr. Miller asked for the basses and baritones to encircle the players and for the other altos, tenors, and sopranos to vocally rest. While the basses were singing with the continuo, there was a full-out Bach dance party happening in the other sections. Every other person was audiating and mouthing his or her part, and the kinesthetic interpretations of the fugues were really something to behold. We were resting our voices as instructed, but were joyously and fully engaged in a novel fashion.
Singing for the home crowd was uplifting. The support and love that flowed from our friends, colleagues, and professors in the audience was breathtaking. I was nervous that I would cry during The Lord Bless You and Keep You, which is the traditional end to every Westminster Choir performance and a song that is very meaningful to the entire student population at WCC. By the time we reached the end of the concert, though, I felt so deeply connected to the choir and to the audience, to the music and to our conductor, that crying was almost too personal an action to consider. I felt like a conduit of collective emotion, and since the collective was riding high on community and enjoyment, it was impossible to focus on my own twinge of sadness (this was my last WC concert on our home turf).
The concert was broadcast by WWFM, and both Daniel Elder and Brandon Waddles were interviewed about their compositions/arrangements featured on the concert. It is quite special to put your voice into the notes that your friends have put on the page, and to know that you have been a part of helping others hear their art. We will continue to do this in February, when we will record an album of Daniel’s music that will be released in August. We will be living together again for four days in New York to create the recording, and of course I will tell you all about it! Before that, though, are plenty of other adventures in choir heaven, including a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at Carnegie Hall next Sunday. It will be broadcast by WQXR on the radio and online.