So, most of us (sophomores and some grad students excluded) are performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jacques Lacombe. Westminster Symphonic Choir has an intimidatingly important schedule of performances with all the symphonies and philharmonics in the area each year. And while I feel pretentiously ridiculous anytime I mention that, I’m just simply in awe of the number of experiences we get at this school and very proud of the professional expectations we consistently meet. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as Dr. Miller reiterated, is one of the most frequently performed choral orchestral works and meant to tell the world to put aside our differences and find peace. It is always pertinent, and it continues to move people hundreds of years later, but we still have to deliver it to our audience so that it will do just that.
These performances take weeks of meticulous detailing, meetings with Marianne Barrett (German diction professor at Julliard and German diction coach with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City) to ensure our German is impeccable, and several evening rehearsals to fully prepare us for these performances.
We then miss school to travel to the different venues in which we perform. While they’re experiences of a lifetime, they are also extremely tiring. We’re expected, as professionals should be, to maintain our outside work – aka schoolwork (but for some of us, also part-time work) – even though we miss hours of class time. After having our normal routines altered, workload shifted, and sleep schedules changed, it’s no surprise that by the end of the week we are thoroughly exhausted. It’s pretty overwhelming for most of us.
Yet, there is nothing quite as rewarding as going through all of that, singing our faces off and hearts out to the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth, then having thousands of people leap up out of their seats to applaud and cheer. That rush you get from feeling appreciated for all of your efforts, those heart throbbing moments when you realize they’re cheering for you, that pride when you realize you’ve truly changed people with your music – there is no earthly equivalent. It’s pure, unadulterated bliss.
I’m immeasurably grateful to be a part of a program that gives us the opportunity to change the world at large every time we open our mouths to sing. We love every second of it.