I’m baaaaaaaaaaccccccckkkkkkkkkkkk and more qualified to be writing this than ever!
I write to you now, not from the back of a tour bus or train, but from beautiful Charleston. I have a blissful forty-five minutes of freedom to enjoy before our first Spoleto rehearsal (which is worthy of excitement in its own right.) But for now, I am in a sunlight-dappled courtyard, knee deep in a fountain, listening as church bells around the city mark the passing of another hour. It is glorious to be back in this place that has become (for a few weeks a year) home.
I must apologize for my long absence before catching you up on the events of the end of the semester. Between the flurry of senior recital preparation, honors thesis writing, St. Matthew Passion, Commencement, and other such negligible events, I have been running on caffeine for the last eight weeks and little else. That being said, I have missed writing (for a non-academic audience) terribly.
So what has the choir been up to? Following spring break, a portion of Symphonic Choir delved into our performances with St. Matthew Passion with The Philadelphia Orchestra. The gravity of the work was balanced beautifully with the vibrancy and joy of the rehearsal process. Most of the soloists had performed the work together a few years ago, and the camaraderie (read: tomfoolery) between them was evident. And of course, working with Yannick and The Philadelphia Orchestra always feels a bit like visiting much-beloved extended family. On top of all of that, we got to perform tasteful choreography, brought to us by stage director James Alexander. The score swipes, which aided our transition from character to character, have been embraced as an in-group mannerism amongst the Westminster student body as a whole. The synthesis of these parts is difficult to write about without sounding hyperbolic. However, the experience was everything I could have wished for in a final runout.
Thanks to the leniency of our Spoleto schedule, Westminster Choir was able to perform for Alumni Weekend for the first time in several years this weekend. In true Westminster fashion, the concert occurred after a several hour-long Commencement rehearsal (where two senior pranks occurred—who knew how aptly the final “Auferstehen” from Mahler 2 fit into the “Anthem of Dedication?” And the closing flute solo in Wilberg’s arrangement of “Homeward Bound” has never sounded better than it did when performed by approximately 50 kazoos.) Singing for Alumni a mere 14 hours before becoming an alumna myself (ahhhhhhhhh) was a surprisingly comforting experience. Contrary to the Biblical adage that no prophet is accepted in their hometown, we are never more embraced than when singing for our own.
And then, the Class of 2015 commenced. While the day was a blur of picture-taking, singing, and choir folder/ diploma/ hand-shaking logistics, three particular moments stand out in my memory. The first was Yannick Nezet-Seguin’s Commencement address, a personal message to the graduating class. Speaking off the cuff, he managed to find the words that every graduate tenuously entering into the real world needed to hear.
The next was a long-awaited reunion with my Schola Cantorum graduate assistant and former Westminster Choir blogger, Jordan Saul. Seeing a person who made such an indelible impact on my life on such an important day was more meaningful than I can say.
The final moment, however, was made possible not by a treasured collaborator or old friend, but by a chance encounter with a group of strangers while in town. After they noticing my regalia, a group of Westminster alumni stopped to congratulate me, give me chocolate (which is next to coffee on the list of swiftest routes to my good graces), and chat with me for several minutes about my time at the school, plans for the future, and place in the WCC community. Westminster is an experience, and this final milestone proved its idiosyncrasies and joys to me better than ever.
And now, I must depart for Westminster Choir’s Charleston home base, the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul’s Wellbrock Hall. We have a musical rehearsal in store before we tech our performance of Daughter, and I have a fair bit of personal score-study to do in preparation. Farewell for now!