The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for the choir. Following our return from retreat, we dove right back into rehearsals, culminating in a surprise party at the end of the week for Dr. Miller’s annual 32nd birthday. Soprano sectional leader Nicola made a delicious cappuccino cake, which we feasted on in honor of our esteemed leader.
However, that was not the only surprise in store for Dr. Miller’s birthday. To show our love, members of the choir decorated copies of what has been dubbed “the mustache picture”: a ravishing photograph of Dr. Miller sporting an impressive mustache. Year after year, the picture resurfaces, surviving even his most ardent attempts to stamp it out of existence. While he was away in New York City listening to auditions for mainstage roles at the Spoleto Festival on his actual birthday, certain unnamed parties snuck into his office and decorated it with due festivity. Despite any photographic evidence to the contrary, I would like to state for the record that I spent the entire day busily engaged in saving kittens from trees and solving world hunger and therefore I had nothing to with these shenanigans.
The following Monday was our annual picture day at Princeton Battlefield. In a delightful twist of the weather report, it was lightly sprinkling the entire time, lending us all a dewy glow.
The next rehearsal was followed by a special reception for donors who contributed to the building of the Marion Buckelew Cullen Center. Westminster Choir had our official first performance at the event, regaling the guests with Clements’ Flower of Beauty and an arrangement of Alwood’s Unclouded Day. Although the performance was brief, it was incredibly exciting to perform together as a choir for the first time. It’s hard to believe that we’ve only been together for two months now—the beginning of the year is always so full of growth, time seems to be somewhat irrelevant.
We were able to further this growth by working with renowned guest artists Alberto Grau and Maria Guinand during their residency at Westminster. The dynamic duo worked with us on Monteverdi’s Si ch’io vorrei morire, Sisask’s Oremus, and Bach’s Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild. Working with Alberto on the Monteverdi was simultaneously hilarious and enlightening. His unexpected playfulness in terms of tempo and articulation allowed us to understand the work in an entirely different light. Maria’s work with us on the Sisask was similarly illuminating, as she empowered us to play with pitch alterations and overtone singing to evoke electrical energy currents.
This week has been less intense for Westminster Choir as Symphonic Choir has been occupied elsewhere, making its season debut performing Debussy’s Nocturnes and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the New Jersey Symphony. These works have been a joy to perform, allowing us to access our inner sirens and medieval drunkards within a rollicking orchestral soundscape. But alas, our weekend of performances is now over, and we are growing ever closer to our next goals—Mahler 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the first Westminster Choir concert!