My goodness, I have so much to share with you. This hiatus has been long, and needed, though I must admit that I have missed the catharsis of gathering and recording thoughts and memories. I will fill in as best as I can for now, and soon will be sharing with you the daily goings-on of our life as the chorus-in-residence at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S. C.
Way back in February, we spent three days in Troy, N.Y. recording an album of music by Daniel Elder. Daniel wrote about our experiences from a composer’s perspective, and if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you check out his blog of these sessions. You can find them here, and as bonus, you can listen to a preview tract from the album!
In other news, I passed my oral exams, and can say with confidence that I actually enjoyed myself. I was terribly nervous, but as the conversation started flowing I started to see the scope of all I had learned in my (far too short a) time at Westminster. In the week following the exam, I was preparing for my final recital.
Conducting graduate students (there are 6 first years, 6 second years) have an academic assistantship in the first year, and they work with one of the large ensembles on campus in the second year. I have been with Dr. James Jordan and Westminster Schola Cantorum this school year, and it is with this spirited and skilled ensemble that I was fortunate to prepare and present my final conducted offering at Westminster. I selected a piece that I first heard at the University of Arizona, sung dramatically and unforgettably by the Symphonic Choir conducting by Westminster alumna Dr. Elizabeth Schauer. The work is for two percussionists and choir, written by French composer Emmanuel Sejourne. Gary Cook, professor emeritus (percussion) and former Dean of the College of Music at Arizona, was one of the commissioning artists of the work, and to my great surprise and delight this past-president of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) travelled to New Jersey to perform with us. The performance went even more beautifully than I could have hoped, and the work was received with great enthusiasm. I also slept fitfully that night, with visions of shining chorister faces and groovy polyrhythms rocking me to sweet slumbers.
I have also accepted an offer to continue graduate study at Florida State University with none other than Dr. André Thomas. It is rather poetic, I think, that the next chapter of my musical life began with a tumble off the podium at Westminster.