Thursday, December 29, 2011


The combination of the holidays and a bad cold/cough (possibly bronchitis) are going to keep me offline until 2012. Enjoy the offerings of First Night, and here, have a lovely video of my father playing a tenor horn solo in the rotunda of the Texas State Capitol building.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday link

This article about being an opera singer is very interesting. The part about "never feeling done" and working every day will surely feel familiar to musicians of all types!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday cat post

Check out this website Louis vs. Rick. The story of a man who taught his cat to use instant messaging. All the episodes are worth reading, but try this one on for size to start out!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/15/11

The last big choral concert weekend of December! (Next weekend is for the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day church services.) Don't forget to check the Messiah Sings list - there are still a lot of opportunities to sing the Messiah, although I only listed concerts below.

Also, the Christmas Revels in Sanders Theatre start on Friday! I will not list all the performances, as there are a billion, but go to their website to see times and buy tickets! If seeing this annual wonderful show is not part of your Christmas tradition, consider making it one this year.

Also, if you are on the South Shore, come to "Baroque Ornaments," a concert by the ensemble Saltarello at my very own church, First Parish Cohasset. With special guests Frances Fitch and Julia Steinbok, it's a concert I am very much looking forward to!





Did I miss anything? Want to advertise your own vocal event? Leave it in the comments!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/8/11

'Tis the season...for a whole lotta choral concerts!




Did I miss anything? Want to advertise your own vocal or choral event? Leave it in the comments!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Messiah sings 2011

Lift up your heads, and be ye lift up! It's time for the annual Messiah Sings post. These are all the Messiah sings in the area that I was able to find. If I missed one, or if you have further information about one of the sings listed, please leave a comment. I will edit the post to include updates; edits will appear in bold type. Note that this is sings only; for performances, keep your eye on the Weekend Concert Calendars to come.

Fri. 12/2: Messiah Sing to benefit Project Bread. 7:30 pm. At All Saints Parish, Brookline. Tickets $10. Scores provided, or bring your own.

Sat. 12/3: Cambridge Community Chorus Messiah Sing. 1:00 pm. At the Dante Alighieri Society in Cambridge. Tickets $10. Scores available, or bring your own. More info here.

Sun. 12/4: St. Paul's Episcopal Church Messiah Sing. 5 pm. At St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Brookline. More info here.

Thurs. 12/8: Annual Dunster House Messiah Sing. 8:00 pm (time not confirmed). At Dunster House, Harvard University. Free and open to the public. With soloists and orchestra. More info here.

Fri. 12/9: The Roxbury Latin School Messiah Sing. 7:30 pm. At Roxbury Latin School, West Roxbury. Free. With soloists. Scores provided, or bring your own. More info here.

Sat. 12/10: Messiah Sing to benefit Healing Hands for Haiti. 4:00 pm. At St. John's Episcopal Church, Jamaica Plain. Tickets $10. With soloists and fortepiano accompaniment. More info here.

Sun. 12/11: Sudbury Memorial Congregational Church Annual Messiah Sing. 3:00 pm. At Sudbury Memorial Congregational Church, Sudbury. More info here.

Sun. 12/11: Carter Memorial United Methodist Church Messiah Sing. 3 pm. At the Carter Memorial United Methodist Church, Needham. With orchestra and soloists. Scores available, or bring your own. More info here.

Sun. 12/11: Assabet Valley Mastersingers Messiah Sing. 3:30 pm. At Trinity Church in Northborough. With soloists. Scores available, or bring your own. More info here.

Sun. 12/11: St. Peter's Church in Weston Messiah Sing. 4:00 pm. At St. Peter's Church, Weston. Free. With soloists. Limited scores available, or bring your own. More info here.

Tues. 12/13: Brandeis University Messiah Sing. 4 pm. At the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium, Brandeis University. FREE! Scores available, or bring your own. With the Brandeis-Wellesley orchestra. More info here.

Wed. 12/14: Cathedral Church of St. Paul Annual Messiah Sing. 12:15 pm. At the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, downtown Boston. More info here.

Fri. 12/16: Masterworks Chorale 50th Annual Messiah Sing. (Also Saturday.) 8:00 pm. At Cary Hall, Lexington. With soloists and orchestra. Scores provided, or bring your own. More info here.

Sat. 12/17: Masterworks Chorale 50th Annual Messiah Sing. (Also Friday.) 8:00 pm. At Cary Hall, Lexington. With soloists and orchestra. Scores provided, or bring your own. More info here.

Sun. 12/18: Harvard Unitarian Church Messiah Sing. 5:00 pm. At the Harvard Unitarian Church in Harvard, MA. With soloists and orchestra. Scores available for purchase or bring your own. More info here.

Sun. 12/18: Belmont Open Sings Messiah Sing. 7:30 pm. (Weather make-up date is Tues. 12/20.) At the Payson Park Church, Belmont. Tickets $10. With soloists and orchestra. Scores provided, or bring your own. More info here.

Sun. 12/18: Nashoba Valley Chorale Messiah Sing. 3 pm. At the Congregational Church of Littleton. More info here.

Did I miss one? Should I add more details to one I've listed? Leave a message in the comments!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Small life update - Head Voice Mix

One of the kids in my college chorus was finding it really challenging to get up into her head voice last week. I asked her what she had been listening to lately, and she said, "Johnny Cash."

So I put her on a strict No-Johnny-Cash diet until the concert is over tomorrow, but to give her some good stuff to listen to, I also made her a head-voice mix, assembled out of the collective wisdom of my Facebook community. Here's what I ended up with:

1.) Samson by Regina Spektor
2.) Angel by Sarah McLachlan
3.) Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
4.) Mushaboom by Feist
5.) Kiss the Flame by Jewel
6.) When You Say Nothing At All by Alison Krauss
7.) One Voice by The Wailin' Jennys
8.) Walk or Ride by The Ditty Bops
9.) Lovin' You by Minnie Riperton
10.) Heart of Glass by Blondie
11.) Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John
12.) Emotions by Mariah Carey

This was a very interesting project, as I hardly ever listen to most of these artists, but analyzing them from a vocal technique standpoint gave me a new appreciation for a lot of them. Especially Mariah Carey!

Monday link

Some good rules for choirs. I hope my choirs are paying attention! Via Danica Buckley.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Friday cat post

Two cat videos today, one from my mother (uplifting! cute!), the other from my father (hilarious! somewhat disturbing! cute!).

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/1/11

This is a big weekend - Cantilena, conducted by yours truly, is having their annual winter concert this Sunday at 3 pm! We are presenting "An American Christmas" with music and texts by American composers and poets. I am very proud of the program I assembled, which has a little bit of everything - some familiar tunes, some unfamiliar tunes, some contemporary music, some folk music, some gospel. We are particularly excited to be presenting a premiere by Ken Seitz (the director emeritus) written just for us. Details are as follows:

Cantilena: An American Christmas
Dec. 4, 3 pm
First Parish Arlington
630 Mass. Ave, Arlington Center
$20/$12 stu/sen

In addition to the concerts below, don't forget there are Messiah sings every day this weekend!


Did I miss anything? Want to advertise your own musical event? Leave it in the comments!

Messiah Sings post - preview!

The annual Messiah Sings post is coming, but while I am assembling it, here is a preview - I don't want you to miss anything coming up this weekend or next week. The first one is at All Saints Parish, and it's tomorrow!

First off, if you are tired of the Messiah and want to sing something else, the Zamir Chorale of Boston will oblige you! They are holding their annual open sing of Handel's Judas Maccabeus this Sunday, Dec. 4 from 4-6 pm at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill. The sing-along program will also feature synagogue classics. $10, but free admission for conductors or conducting students! Scores provided.

Fri. 12/2: Messiah Sing to benefit Project Bread. 7:30 pm. At All Saints Parish, Brookline. Tickets $10. Scores provided, or bring your own.

Sat. 12/3: Cambridge Community Chorus Messiah Sing. 1:00 pm. At the Dante Alighieri Society in Cambridge. Tickets $10. Scores available, or bring your own. More info here.

Sun. 12/4: St. Paul's Episcopal Church Messiah Sing. 5 pm. At St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Brookline. More info here.

Thurs. 12/8: Annual Dunster House Messiah Sing. 8:00 pm (time not confirmed). At Dunster House, Harvard University. Free and open to the public. With soloists and orchestra. More info here.

Did I miss anything that's coming up in the next week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Smal life update

Today in the elementary school where I teach music one day a week:

Me: What's this?
Student: A half-note.
Me: Good. What's this?
Another student: A polka-dotted half note.
Me: Er, no. Just a dotted half note.

Of course, once she said it, it stuck in the kids' heads, and at least one other student called it that during class!

The same class featured a game of Is It A Composer or a Pasta? (From the brilliant mind of Ashi Day.) The only two they got wrong were Donizetti and farfalle.

Ticket giveaway!

It's been a while since I've done a ticket giveaway on this blog, but today I have TWO pairs of tickets for you!

The first pair is to the Cantilena concert that I will be conducting this Sunday at 3 pm! We are going to be presenting "An American Christmas," featuring Christmas music by different American poets and composers, and we are particularly excited to be presenting a premiere by Ken Seitz written just for us. Details are below - we've all been working very hard, the group sounds great, and I hope you can come! The concert will be at First Parish Arlington at 630 Mass. Ave in Arlington Center.

The second concert is Musica Sacra's concert on Saturday at 8 pm. They will be performing "Lessons and Carols: Selected carols, motets, and readings in celebration of the season" at First Church Congregational right outside Harvard Square. The concert is evening of readings from the Christmas story mingled with a variety of carols and motets. This concert will feature a wide array of styles and composers, including local living composers Kevin Siegfried and Erik Gustafson, and Renaissance Jewish composer Salamone Rossi.

So here is the deal - leave a comment with your name, e-mail address (spelled john dot smith at comcast dot net) and which concert you are interested in (or both), and I will randomly select (via a random number generator) someone for each pair of tickets. Leave your comment before Friday at 9 am - later that morning I'll post the winners, and you will have a pair of tickets waiting for you at will-call at your chosen concert!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday link

Hey, Christmas time is here! And you know what that means - it's the one time of year people who don't sing regularly in choruses might pay attention to choral music!


Seriously, there is a very nice article about choral music and some of the season's upcoming concerts in the Boston Globe. It would be even nicer if they didn't focus exclusively on mixed choruses, but you can't have everything.

Now if only they would run another nice article like that in April or May, when there are just as many choral concerts as in December.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Small life update

So, last summer I participated in a recording session for a video game. It was VERY interesting, and now that the game is out I'm actually allowed to talk about it! It's called Ace Combat 3DS Assault Horizon Legacy, and you can see a preview here (and also hear me singing in the background! We were singing words, really.)

I hope I get to do something like that again; the people in charge of the recording session seemed happy with the work of the assembled singers, so you never know!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday cat post!

If you are not familiar with the Simon's Cat animations, they are wonderful little movies. And there is a new one out! "Double Trouble!"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday link

Today's Monday link is about an exciting choral event in one week that you can participate in!

There is going to be a choral flash mob in Dewey Square on 11/29 at 12:15 pm to sing "Make Our Garden Grow" from Bernstein's Candide. This is in honor of the Boston Public Market Association’s endeavors to bring locally grown food to the people of Boston. More details, and the opportunity to RSVP, are here!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Small life update

I keep meaning to use this blog more to talk about my day-to-day musical activities, but the longer I don't, the bigger the task seems, and the less likely I am to start (the eternal blogger's conundrum.)

So I'll start small. Apparently a week ago in church choir rehearsal I made a comment while we were practicing "Glory to God" from the Messiah that the choir sounded like angelic elephants (the goal being that they should sound more like angelic cherubs with somewhat less mass.)

I showed up at church yesterday afternoon to find a small cuddly stuffed elephant with gold wings and a gold halo and a little note referring to "elephantine angels." E, the girl I teach voice lessons to on Thursday, promptly fell in love with it and dubbed it "Bubbles."

It's the little things!

Friday cat post!

Well, I have just accepted that my digital camera is completely lost, since I haven't seen it for over a year. I'm going to get a new one soon (maybe over Thanksgiving?) so that soon you will see pictures of Samson again, but until that time, you just get crazy cat links!

I think this is adorable - Cats On Glass. Number two is my favorite!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/17/11

This weekend there is no doubt about what you must see; unquestionably, you must come see me sing with Schola Cantorum in our first-ever collaboration with new music group Juventas! We are going to be singing Arvo Pärt's Stabat Mater and a Josquin motet, along with the premieres of new works by Oliver Caplan and Domick DiOrio. The program is called "Through the Looking Glass: Old Sounds Reinvented," and you definitely don't want to miss it - it's got new music inspired by music from the Baroque and Renaissance. Very cool! Be there!

  • Lorelei Ensemble, "Lumen di Lumine: Works by Taverner, Dufay, Sulpitia Cesis, Payne, Hagen, and a World Première by Mary Montgomery Koppel," 8 pm, Wenham
  • Boston Choral Ensemble, "Vertue: Works by Victoria and Weir," 8 pm, Cambridge
  • Schola Cantorum with Juventas, "Through the Looking Glass: Old Sounds Reinvented," 8 pm, Boston
  • Boston New Music Initiative, "Hymns and Songs: New Works for Voice, Chamber Ensemble and Chorus", 8 pm, Cambridge
  • Lorelei Ensemble, "Lumen di Lumine: Works by Taverner, Dufay, Sulpitia Cesis, Payne, Hagen, and a World Première by Mary Montgomery Koppel," 8 pm, BU, Boston
  • Back Bay Chorale, "Essential Voices: Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass and works by Tallis, Bruckner, Britten, Wachner, and MacMillan", 8 pm, Boston
  • Metropolitan Chorale, "Metamorphosis: Works by Buxtehude, Monteverdi, Gesualdo, Lauridsen, Stucky, and others," 8 pm, Cambridge
  • Mystic Chorale, "Bright Morning Stars: A Celebration of Americana," 8 pm, Boston
  • MIT Chamber Chorus, Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors and Bach's Cantata No. 64, 8 pm, Cambridge
  • Newton Choral Society, "Royal Riches: Works by Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart," 8 pm, West Roxbury
  • Schola Cantorum with Juventas, "Through the Looking Glass: Old Sounds Reinvented," 8 pm, Providence, RI
Did I miss anything? Want to advertise your own musical event? Leave it in the comments!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Cat post!

Your kitty-related link of the day. Tee hee! (Via Alex Ross.)

Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/10/11

Crazy-busy weekend again!


  • Orpheus Singers,"In the Time of Louis XIV - French Baroque Classics", 8 pm, Boston
  • Salisbury Singers, "With One Voice: Songs of Struggle, Patriotism, and Renewal", 7:30 pm, Worcester
  • Exsultemus, "English Music for Voices and Viol", 8 pm, Brandeis, Waltham



Did I miss anything? Want to advertise your own musical event? Leave it in the comments!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Monday link

Today's Monday link comes from my friend Mike. It's a great article in the New Yorker about coaching in different areas - the author is a surgeon, but singers and violinists are also mentioned. Feels very relevant to me because I have been playing with the idea of finding a mentor/coach for several years now.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/3/11

Woooo, it is BUSY this weekend! So at the risk of alienating some very worthy ensembles, I am going to help you choose.

If you go to one concert this weekend (and for the record I am going to more than that) you should go to the St. Matthew Passion performance being put on jointly by the
Boston Cecilia and Musica Sacra. This is Cecilia director Don Teeters' 44th and final season with that fine ensemble, and this is the major work of their season. Teeters is noted for his work with period ensembles, especially in Bach and Handel, and this is your last chance to see him conduct a significant work with a period orchestra and two of the city's finest choruses. Not to mention a bevy of awesome soloists! Don't miss it, it's going to be one of the best choral events of 2011-2012.


Masterworks Chorale, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, 8 pm, Cambridge

Treble Chorus of New England, "Viva La Diva!", 7 pm, Andover


Sharing a New Song, Gospel Workshop (12-4 pm) directed by Jonathan Singleton, Concert at 6 pm, Newton Highlands

Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum and the Radcliffe Choral Society, "Motets and Madrigals", 8 pm, Cambridge

Cantata Singers, "The Extended Arch - J.S. Bach and Stephen Hartke", 8 pm, Boston

Cappella Clausura, "Ghirlanda de Madrigali: 4-part Love Songs by the Teen-aged Vittoria Aleotti", 8 pm, Cambridge

Treble Chorus of New England, "Viva La Diva!", 7 pm, Andover

Seraphim Singers, "An American Sampler", 8 pm, Cambridge

Exsultemus, "Baroque Vocal Cantatas by Telemann", 8 pm, West Newton


Boston Cecilia and Musica Sacra, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, 2 pm, Boston

Chorus Pro Musica, Kodaly's Missa Brevis, 3 pm, Boston

Did I miss anything? Want to advertise your own musical event? Leave it in the comments!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday links

Great article in the Boston Globe about how music helps a teen engage with the world.

Friend EC sent me a link to this TED talk by Hazlewood; most interesting to me was finding out what this conductor's projects are, none of which I had heard of and all of which sound awesome.

An interesting article about conductors and tyranny...but more importantly, how did I not know about this feed?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 10/27/11

Sorry this is going up so late, folks! Friends, errands, and work got in the way of a timely posting. Luckily, all the Friday night concerts are being repeated on subsequent days! (Exsultemus and Handel & Haydn.)

Other interesting things this weekend include "Spark: the fire within," a concert at First Church Boston at 7 pm on Saturday night that will feature
music, drama, spoken word, poetry, rap and dance performed by a wide array of talented people, including First Lady Patrick. It will be a benefit for the Renewal House domestic violence shelter.

  • Liberty Belle Chorus, "A Little Bit of Everything," 2 pm, Woburn
  • Cappella Clausura, "Ghirlanda de Madrigali: 4-part Love Songs by the Teen-aged Vittoria Aleotti", 8 pm, Newton
  • Exsultemus, "Orazio Vecchi: Night Games of Siena - A Madrigal Comedy", 8 pm, Cambridge
  • Handel and Haydn, Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, 3 pm, Boston
  • Cappella Clausura, "Ghirlanda de Madrigali: 4-part Love Songs by the Teen-aged Vittoria Aleotti", 4 pm, Jamaica Plain
  • King's Chapel Choir, Schütz's Musikalische Exequien and Distler's Totentanz as well as works by Brahms and Bach, 5 pm, Boston
Did I miss anything? Leave it in the comments!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday links

I don't have any Monday links for you today. Isn't that terrible?

You should help me out here - what should I have linked to? Any music news? Does your favorite chorus have an upcoming concert? Self-promoters also welcome!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Cat post!

Are you ever going to see photos of Samson again? Good question. Who knows? He's currently curled up in my lap, occasionally nudging my mouse hand to scritch him.

In the meantime, Oomi is watching you from a bag.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 10/20/11

In addition to the choral concerts this weekend, there are also some other exciting things, like Andreas Scholl, Dame Emma Kirkby, and Opera Boston's production of Berlioz' Béatrice et Bénédict. (Say that five times fast.)

  • New World Chorale, "Greatest Hits of Choral Music: A Guided Tour", 3:00 pm, Boston
  • A Besere Velt, "Bread and Roses Centennial Concert", 4:00 pm, Andover
Did I miss anything? Leave it in the comments! Feel free to advertise non-choral concerts, too!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday links

A fascinating article about Colin Davis. Oh, how I wish people were paying me in a way that enabled me to sit and think about the music.

On a different note, a fun video from my friend ML.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 10/13/11

This week's calendar makes me feel like the semester's concerts are truly under way! On Saturday, especially, there are tough choices to be made! (For those who don't know, Suzuki is one of the world's experts in conducting and recording Bach cantatas.)


Blue Heron, "A 16th-century Meeting of England & Spain," 8:00 pm, Cambridge
Exsultemus, "Telemann: Harmonischer Gottesdienst," 8:00 pm, West Newton
Yale Schola Cantorum (under Masaaki Suzuki), "Bach Family Motets and Cantatas," 8:00 pm, Boston


Unicorn Singers and the Broad Cove Chorale, "Gala Goes P*O*P*S!", 4:00 pm, Scituate
Belmont Open Sings, Beethoven's Mass in C, 7:30 pm, Belmont

Did I miss anything? Leave it in the comments!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday links

Monday links!

An interesting essay on being an artist in general (not necessarily just a musician.)

And from Liz Garnett, an entry on how we outsource our memory in the days of the internet. I know this is true for me! (For one thing, my calendar is no longer in my head at all.)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar - not

Oops, no Weekend Concert Calendar this week. It was just too crazy-busy a week, and I did not have my normal down-time on Thursday or Friday to get it together.

So consider this an open thread. Was there anything good tonight? Will there be anything good tomorrow?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tuesday links

This article about pedagogy looks interesting, although I haven't had time to read it yet.

A little conductor humor...

And yesterday was Steve Reich's birthday! To celebrate, go listen to his work "Proverb," which is one of my favorites.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 9/29/11

Another weekend is upon us!

On Friday at 8 pm, the Phillipine Madrigal Singers will be at Killian Hall at MIT. On Saturday at 8 pm they will be at MIT's Kresge Auditorium. More info here, including contact information to buy tickets.

Also on Saturday at 8 pm, the Creole Choir of Cuba will be at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square.

And I will be sorry to be missing both those events, because ALSO on Saturday, at 7:30 pm, my quartet Anthology will be performing at the Lilypad in Inman Square. We'll be presenting our new Road Trip program (complete with choreography, staging, dancing, and hats) so don't miss it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday links

Well, Monday was a little nutty. How about some Tuesday links?

First of all, I LOVE the MacArthur grants. I love reading about who gets them, and dreaming about earning one some day. (I'm still working on the reason I would earn one.) The 2011 list of fellows was released recently, and there's a choral conductor on the list!

An interesting article in Slate on the challenges of preserving an artist's work, physically speaking.

Choralnet alerts me that some Brits are having the vapors over a woman being admitted to the Lincoln Cathedral Choir. I don't think there's anything wrong with having an all-boys choir; it's a lovely sound. So are mixed choirs. I just think that citing as your reasons for protest that having a woman sing alto would be a BETRAYAL of the composers' intentions strikes me as a bit histrionic.

Choralnet also tells me (they have all the good British gossip this week!) that one of the Westminster Cathedral organists was dismissed after dissing Rutter's piece for the recent royal wedding. Whatever you think about Rutter, blasting a commission for your organization on your Facebook account - with "colourful language," no less - doesn't strike me as particularly smart.

Finally, I came across this video of Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. It is AWESOME. You can find most of the concert in bits and pieces on Youtube if you search for "Jessye Norman Kathleen Battle 1990" or variations thereof. And the VHS of the concert is on Amazon.

Jessye Norman & Kathleen Battle - Scandalize My Name from this wayin on Vimeo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday cat post! Oomi edition!

What has my brother's cat Oomi been up to lately?

Holding all the blankets hostage, apparently. With winter coming, a wise strategy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weekend Concert Calendar, 9/22/11

Here we go! The first Weekend Concert Calendar of the year! And Anthology is performing this weekend, please come to our concert!

On Friday, check out the Alto Extravaganza at King's Chapel, hosted by the altos of the King's Chapel Choir, who have finally had it! 7:30 pm, King's Chapel Parish House, more details here.

On Saturday, Emmanuel Music is presenting Bach's B Minor Mass at Emmanuel Church. The music is at 8 pm; at 7 pm, Prof. Robin Leaver, from Westminster, will be giving a talk. (He was a favorite lecturer when I was at Westminster, so I highly recommend going for the talk as well.)

On SUNDAY, my vocal quartet Anthology will be performing a FREE concert! 2 pm, at the Newton Free Library. We're going to be presenting a Road Trip! program, and we will take you all around the U.S., from St. Louis to Tennessee to Iowa to California. Please come! Kids are welcome.

And starting next Wednesday, the Phillipine Madrigal Singers will be in town for three concerts. The first is at 8 pm at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston. More information is here.

Free concert!

There is a FREE concert tonight by awesome vocal jazz group Syncopation. At Berklee, in the David Friend Recital Hall (921 Boylston St.) at 7:30 pm. What are you waiting for? Go!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday links

Check out the Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess and Harvard Medical School. Their list of projects is particularly interesting. And I took their tone-deafness test! Here are my results. I wish I knew how I stacked up to other people, but they don't tell you that! Also, they don't tell you how many you got wrong, or how small the pitch differences in the test get.

"Our results show that, given a baseline pitch at 500 Hertz (Hz), you can reliably discern pitch differences of less than 12 Hz, which is a small interval considering the fact that the semitone, the smallest interval used in Western music, is about 30 Hz (6%) with a 500 Hz baseline. Therefore, you are NOT tone deaf. The majority of the population can discern intervals smaller than the semitone, but this auditory acuity varies greatly and may be improved by substantial musical training."

I have probably linked to this before, but it's cute, so why not again? (Don't be thrown by the fact that the French apparently don't distinguish between upper and lower case Roman numerals for major and minor chords.)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Mid-week update

Yesterday was the first meeting of one of my two sections of chorus at Lasell. On the upside, I have some fantastic new singers who seem nice, talented, and responsible. On the downside, it looks like I have no basses, so I need to completely reevaluate the repertoire I chose. I will meet the other half of my singers tomorrow at the second section.

Tonight is the first choir rehearsal of the season (my choir at First Parish Cohasset takes a break over the summer.) It will be nice to see everyone again!

On Saturday, Cantilena will be having a read-through and recording of a Requiem by Seth Hamlin. We were originally going to perform this work with the WSO on 9/11, but because of the debt ceiling negotiations, our funding fell through. However, we wanted Seth to at least have the experience of a live recorded read-through after his hard work. We're not really advertising this event as open to the public, but if you want to come listen (and promise not to sneeze during the recording) get in touch.

Tomorrow I will also give new sight-reading students their first sight-reading lesson! I'm teaching either two or three at the same time, in a mini-class, so it will be an experiment.

And on Sunday I'm supposed to have all the music memorized for the upcoming Anthology concert. Heh. We'll see if that happens.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

quick link

An old friend of mine is teaching Voice-Movement Therapy classes in Somerville on Saturdays this September and October. In addition to being the lead singer for Jaggery, she's also a registered Voice Movement Therapy practitioner. This is a great way to both work on expressing yourself through singing and also work on exploring yourself emotionally. More details are here (scroll down to the middle of the Saturday section.)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday link

More links next week, but for this week, Happy Labor Day! Enjoy Boston's A Besere Velt singing the classic labor song "Bread and Roses."

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday cat post!

No pictures today, but a request!

I would love to have this Friday cat post spot feature the cats of all sorts of different musicians. Are you a musician? Would you like to have your kitty featured? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

In the meantime, have Chopin's Cat Waltz. (Apparently his cat walked across the keys, and he liked the melody so much he stole it.)

Mid-, er, late-week update

It is a hectic time for choral directors!

Last weekend was lovely; on Saturday, I went out to a late-summer party with some friends in Western MA. I headed home that night because of the hurricane (a good choice, as some roads were washed out on Sunday) and spent Sunday reading novels and watching TV (Leverage, if you're interested.)

But this past week has been prep, prep, prep! Searching for music for my college chorus at Lasell is one big challenge - since I don't know how many men I will have singing (or how many singers I will have total) it's hard to choose music. And sadly, a lot of the SAB music out there is really SAT music; my basses last year had a hard time of it occasionally. And on top of practical considerations, of course I also want them to be excited about the pieces we're singing!

This has been a week of e-mail and meetings. I am trying to get my inbox down before the semester starts. And this weekend will be trying to get my desk and music files into some sort of order. Hurricane Irene may be only a memory now, but the real hurricane is coming after Labor Day. Batten down the hatches!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Music in August - Scott Wheeler's Whiskers and Rhymes

Remember that resolution I made, to go hunting for and finding cool new choral music? Well, here is the first installment! (It is the last day of August, so in order to fulfill the "1-2 times a month" rule I had to get it up today!)

Today's piece is by Scott Wheeler. I first came across his work when the Boston Cecilia performed his one-act opera The Construction of Boston. They also recorded it, and that fabulous recording can be found here. What I most remember from listening to them rehearse and perform that piece was how many countless delightful little melodies were everywhere in the work. I kept wanting to memorize phrases so that I could go around singing them to myself. Wheeler truly writes excellently for the voice, capable of being either naturally conversational or smoothly lyrical.

Those delightful melodies, as well as Wheeler's sense of shifting, elegant harmonies, are also present in today's piece for children's chorus. Thanks to Shannon Canavin for tipping me off to it! It's a setting of five texts by Arnold Lobel (of Frog and Toad and Mouse Tales fame) and Jack Prelutsky. The pieces are fun, but also challenging and musically satisfying. What more could one ask for?

The entire work, which is five movements, is 11-12 minutes. The movements are all for 2-part children's chorus, which occasionally splits into 3 parts. In addition, there's a 4-hand piano part, an optional violin part, and a malleable percussion part. (The score is written for tamborine, hand drum, finger cymbals, maracas, and wood blocks, but also specifies that substitutions and additions are welcome.) The percussion would be a great opportunity to either get non-singing children involved, or to call in the hot-shot percussion player from your local high school. (Doesn't every high school have at least one?) One warning is that the tessitura is rather high for the sopranos, so you need to have already instilled good vocal technique.

If you only want to tackle one movement, I would recommend "The Old Woman," which is the easiest, and also has no violin or percussion. But for most fun, your kids will LOVE "The Bogeyman." (They'll probably love all of them, but that one is the most dramatic - listen until the end!)

But you don't have to take my word for it, as Levar Burton would say - you can listen for yourself! Scott was kind enough to provide recordings of all five movements, and some sample pages from the score. The recordings are up at - click on the link below, and then look for the play-bar on the right-hand side of the page. The performers are the Treble Chorus of New England, under the direction of Marie Stultz, for whom the piece was written.

Whiskers and Rhymes
1.) Opening Rhymes (sample score pages)
2.) The Bogeyman (sample score pages)
3.) The Old Woman (sample score pages)
4.) The Troll
5.) Ending Rhymes

If you want to perform this delightful work, get in contact with Scott Wheeler for a copy of the score. And let me know about the performance!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday links

Alex Ross pointed me towards the Sound Mind blog...because it is ending. Sad to find a nice blog just as it is over, but the archives are all there, and it's a nice place to wander, especially if you enjoy having someone curate Youtube recitals for you.

I encourage all composers to apply for the John Cage Memorial Random Composer Award! Via my Facebook feed and composer Brent Ranalli.

More stuff for composers: ChoralNet's communities for composers.

And just because, have some Dufay.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday cat post!

Oh my goodness, it's actual pictures of Samson! Thanks to the talented Sylvia Berry, who was kind enough to cat-sit for Samson while I was visiting my brother, and who took some pictures of him.

Cantilena auditions!

Everyone is either having or about to have auditions, but from among the thronging hordes of choruses, I encourage all the women to think about joining Cantilena! We do some beautiful, challenging music, the group has a lovely personality, and I am a lot of fun. Details here!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mid-week update

Last night I had a recording session with my good friend Anney Gillotte and the extremely talented Mark McNeill. I made some good progress in my voice lessons this summer, and since I don't have time to study voice during the year I wanted to make an audition CD while my vocal improvements were still fresh! Handel & Haydn, here I come. Again. Oy. (They are very hard to get into, now.) I recorded "Buss und Reu" from Bach's St. Matthew Passion, "But Who May Abide" from Handel's Messiah, "Sweet Suffolk Owl" by Hundley and "A Charm" from Britten's A Charm of Lullabies. Now to listen, edit, and copy. Let me know if you want one! I'm particularly hoping to line up a Messiah-sing gig this year.

Other than that, I pretty much ignored the approaching start of the academic year by visiting my brother in Rochester. It was not particularly exciting, and not a lot happened, which was exactly what I wanted. And on the way back I visited friends from college in Western MA and had lunch with Amelia and her sister in Northampton. It was all very low-key - just what I like in my vacations!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday links

This article from the New York Times on decision-making fatigue is fascinating, and definitely applies to conductors. I have often said to friends, "No, I make decisions all day, I can't make any more, you decide what we should cook for dinner," but I didn't realize that I had actually run out of willpower.

This is an ingenious solution to a common problem. From my friend Maggie.

From the NEC Bridge site, an article written for visual artists, but which applies to musicians as well.

A blast from the past: I used to read Dave Barry's column regularly as a kid. From my parents.

And finally, upon hearing that I am interested in new music, contemporary composer Julia Laylander dropped me a line. I want to highlight her website as the way to do it right - if conductors can both see a score and hear the music, our lives are much easier!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday cat post!

Well, someday I will get a camera and show you pictures of Samson. He is still cuddly and adorable. But in the meantime, have a video of the two cutest conversationalists on the web. Oldie but a goodie!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mid-week update

I am writing this update as I am just about to leave for Rochester, NY where I will get to hang out with my brother and sister-in-law. Vacation ahoy!

The thing about vacation of course is that the period right prior to the vacation always feels more stressful than otherwise because I want to get ALL THE THINGS* done before vacation. And things are ramping up as fall approaches; I had quite a few meetings this past week, in addition to all the remaining work I have to do on repertoire. Not to mention trying to get my apartment, inbox, brain, etc. ship-shape before the approaching deluge. I have talked to other musicians recently who are feeling similarly apprehensive about the oncoming storm of the academic year. Courage, my friends!

One thing I forgot to mention is that I was interviewed a few weeks ago. This went up on the reporter's blog, but I understand it will also be published in the Somerville News.

*See here for an explanation of "all the things." Possibly not safe for work depending on how you feel about asterisks in the middle of swear words.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday links

Well, there have been a few kerfuffles this week!

First of all, Stephen Sondheim does NOT approve of the new Porgy and Bess that is about to debut at the American Repertory Theater. Alex Ross finds Sondheim's letter hilarious, and also mentions the public domain issues surrounding Gershwin's work.

Also in the news is Yuja Wang, not for her universally-acclaimed piano-playing, but for her attire. Various opinions abound; I agree with the last. Sometimes being a woman and not having the default uniform of a tuxedo can be frustrating; more power to those who manage to look good and have fun with their attire! Via Alex Ross again.

And while the painful problems in London cannot be covered by the word kerfuffle, we all know what the root of the problem is, right? Hat-tip to my brother.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mid-week update

Busy week, as always!

Last Friday I went to see the Harvard Summer Chorus perform Corigliano's Fern Hill and Beethoven's Mass in C. Led by Andy Clark, they did an excellent job. I love Fern Hill, and it was delightful to hear it again. And the Beethoven was extremely charming. Kudos to everyone involved for great tuning, diction, rhythm, and expression. Kind of amazing that the group has only been singing together for a couple of months!

Last weekend my father was here, and it was delightful to see him. He came with me to a small house concert that my voice teacher, Emily Romney, had for her students who were studying over the summer. I sang Britten's "A Charm" from A Charm of Lullabies and "But Who May Abide" from the Messiah. Happy to report that everything quite well, and Emily's neighbor who attended quite enjoyed the concert! One of my remaining summer tasks is to make an audition CD to use during the year.

Other work included continuing to teach sight-reading (I picked up another student, and I'm really enjoying teaching lessons), continuing to work on choosing repertoire for the upcoming season for various groups (invariably massively time-consuming), and working really hard with Anthology for our upcoming Road Trip concert at the end of September! We are in the thick of trying to arrange and memorize all the repertoire. Here's a link to the poster for our upcoming performance at the Newton Free Library - put it on your calendars!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Lasell Village wrap-up, Choral version

My summer lectures at Lasell Village ended a week ago. If you remember, I was giving one lecture on "The Ten Greatest Choral Works" and another called "Modern Music: Why It's Not That Horrible." Overall it was a great experience; I learned a lot (such as how MUCH time lecture prep takes, holy COW) and I got to do some research and learning and listening I otherwise wouldn't have had the impetus to do.

At the end of the choral masterpieces class, I took a vote on which piece was everyone's favorite. Some people declined to vote, but here's how it shook out.

Missa Papae Marcelli by Palestrina - 0 votes
Bach’s Mass in B Minor - 1 vote
Handel’s Messiah - 3 votes
Haydn’s Creation - 1 vote
Mozart’s Requiem - 1 vote
Mendelssohn’s Elijah - 1 vote
Brahms’ Requiem - 1 vote
Britten’s War Requiem - 3 votes
Faure’s Requiem - 2 votes
Barber’s Reincarnations - 0 votes

I think the biggest surprise was that none of them went for Palestrina. As a Renaissance-lover, this was shocking to me! Renaissance music was one of the great revelations of my teenage years. I actually had one gentleman come up and tell me he thought he would have to quit the class because he couldn't stand the Palestrina that much; I told him to stick it out and he was happy by the time we got to Handel. But!!!

Also, the Barber probably didn't get as many votes b/c I played it in-class at the last class, so they didn't have a listening assignment with it the way they did with the rest, and they didn't get a chance to sit with it. It might seem like an odd choice, but I wanted to have something in there to represent the beauty of the small-scale. It was a tough choice between the Barber and Fine's Hourglass Suite.

In general, I was trying to choose a representative variety of pieces, no more than 3 from any one historical period, no more than one from any composer (this was to prevent Bach headaches, among other things), not dominated by the Germanic tradition (though how well I did on that front is debatable - after all, no Russians?), and I wanted to choose pieces where the chorus was the main event. (Hence the lack of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which is arguably one of the ten best pieces ever, but not one of the ten best choral pieces ever because the chorus is not even present for 70% of it.) What pieces would you have added...and most importantly, what pieces would you have swapped out to make room? Verdi, Berlioz, Stravinsky, and Duruflé were all very close to making the cut for me.

Monday, August 08, 2011


I'm playing with my blog design. Can you tell? Opinions welcome; my visual design skills are not my greatest strength!

Also, I need to fill out my blogroll to the right. I try to visit the ChoralBlog on ChoralNet every day, and also to see what Alex Ross has to say. What other music blogs do you check regularly? Self-promotion encouraged!

Monday link

I just found NewMusicBox, a publication of the American Music Center. A great source of information on contemporary music! Check out this great article called "Summers in the Choral World" about some contemporary music in this year's summer music scene. A great place to start for exploring new choral music, as she lists a lot of pieces! The author, Jenny Clarke, will be posting every other week and her next post should go up tomorrow.

How about a TED talk? TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design" and is dedicated to "ideas worth spreading." They have regular conferences, and you can see the talks from all these conferences online. All sorts of people talk at TED (musicians in the past have included Evelyn Glennie and Bobby McFerrin). This one is about the skill of listening, and how we are losing this skill. Via the ChoralBlog on ChoralNet. I certainly feel some of this is true of me. The speaker gives useful tips for working on your listening as well.

Last week I came across this letter by Gidon Kremer, a celebrated Latvian violinist, explaining his reasons for withdrawing this year from the Verbier Festival (an international music festival in Switzerland that looks quite delightful, actually) and this follow-up letter by Fabio Luisi, music director of the Zurich Opera, endorsing Kremer's letter. Both address the question of celebrity in classical music; I actually found Luisi's letter explained the matter a little more clearly to me, though it was written second. Anyways, the subject of young, hot classical music stars and the machinery that packages and pushes them out is an interesting and recurring one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mid-week update

Both my lectures at Lasell Village this week were very interesting.

For my "Modern Music: Why It's Not That Horrible" class, we delved into song literature, and I played my students Hundley, Cipullo, Heggie, Larsen, and Golijov among others. (Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs are their listening homework this week.) I had expected that the great poetry all those composers set would be a door into the music, not to mention the beautiful lyricism that so many song composers employ, but most of them didn't seem too impressed by most of the settings. I got several comments that they loved the poetry, but that the music didn't seem to reflect the text. These are some of my favorite songs, so I was somewhat taken aback! In contrast, last week was symphonic works week, and while I had expected that they might find a lot of the symphonic works impenetrable, we started off with a discussion of color and texture, and listened to different composers' colors and textures, and I guess that gave them the tools to be intrigued and interested in everything, from Murail to Gubaidulina to Higdon. I think this is a reflection on the fact that I need to give them listening tools in every lecture; I had thought poetry and words would be enough of a listening tool, but apparently not so much!

Then in my "Ten Greatest Choral Works" lecture we tackled Britten's War Requiem. Which is about WWII, and pretty heavy, if you don't know it (if you google the piece, however, there is a lot of wonderful writing about it on the web, more so than most other pieces.) Particularly humbling was the moment when I asked, "Who here fought in WWII?" and almost every single man in the room raised his hand. It also turned out that one of the women had worked in the Nuremberg Trials. There is nothing to make you feel like a pipsqueak more than lecturing TO a bunch of WWII vets about Britten's War Requiem; it felt ridiculous to be trying to teach them anything when they could teach me so much. And at the same time I could see how valuable it was to present this piece; but it's a big thing to be discussing why Britten made the dramatic choices he made, and his pacifism, and what kinds of catharsis he was hoping to achieve to people who have lived what he was writing.

In other news I participated in a recording session that I would love to tell you all about but since I signed a non-disclosure agreement I have to wait a while to do that. My voice lessons (that I'm taking) this summer are going extremely well; so are my sight-singing lessons (that I'm teaching); Anthology is plotting our next big program for late September; and I am taking salsa classes this summer and LOVING it! Oh, and last night I turned in my programs for Cantilena's upcoming season. More on that later!

[Edited to add: I also saw the BOC's production of Falstaff on Saturday! Great performance; all the singers acted and sang impeccably, and the stage direction was a great deal of fun. I hope they stay in the Somerville Theatre in the future, so I can continue to eat popcorn, drink wine, and watch opera all at the same time.]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday links

Check out this awesome page listing all the grad programs in conducting in the country. Hat-tip to Thoughtful Gestures.

The UU Musicians' Network has a new blog.

Alex Ross encourages us to pay attention to the new composers chosen by the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. He also highlights a blog called "Superconductor" which has me KICKING myself about the name of this blog. That name is so much better! Superconductor looks pretty cool, it is mostly reviews of performances in NYC. I particularly enjoyed the opinionated entries on the doings at New York City Opera.

Apparently musicians are smarter than you Muggle fools. I always find these articles somewhat irritating. Sorry, I know a lot of my musician friends on Facebook were getting a kick out of it. But aside from providing a dangerous opportunity for "us" to feel smug and superior to "them", let's be frank, music is worth doing regardless of any positive side effects such as how we perform on vocabulary tests. I'm sure most of us would still do it even if it increased our risk of clogged arteries or whatever. It bugs me whenever articles come out about the positive side effects of doing music, because it takes the focus off the main point of doing music, which is that music is a wonderful emotional expression of beauty and an awesome endeavor and makes people happy.

Speaking of things that will make you happy, I found a wonderful, wonderful website called "Awkward Classical Music Photos." (Hat-tip to GS on my Facebook page!) When people who primarily deal in sound suddenly have to market themselves visually, the results can be pretty silly! (I have been in a few awkward photo shoots myself, so I am totally in a glass house here.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday update

This week, between planning two lectures on modern song and Britten's War Requiem for Lasell Village, practicing voice, and keeping up with teaching lessons and rehearsals (and a recording session on Sunday that I have to sign a NDA for!) I'm also immersed in planning Cantilena's season. The programs are due next week, so I'm kind of cutting it down to the wire, as usual. Current sadness is that I found a wonderful difficult Persichetti piece that I just think won't fit into the program - Winter Cantata, op. 97. Well, there's always next year!

In other news, trying to actually cook and eat all of my CSA farm share takes an enormous amount of time and effort.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday links

Jan Swafford has a great article on contemporary music in Slate. Couldn't agree more with the dictum "Make it new, or make it old, but make it good."

I mentioned Amelia's blog in my last post; well, I really particularly love this recent entry. Favorite quotes: "Dictatorships have a lot less paperwork than democracies." And "They make us better–not just because they make us better, but because they make us comfortable being better." SO TRUE.

Also, check out this essay by a trans woman about her baritone voice. People who are trans and singers have some really tough issues to get around; I had a tenor in one of my choruses who was a trans man going through the transition while singing, and it was very complicated for him to figure out what his range was (which was also continually changing) and how to healthily navigate it. At the time I tried to locate a voice teacher for him in the Boston area who specialized in helping trans people sing with their new voices, but didn't find anyone; if you know of someone, let me know, as it would be helpful information for the future!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

MA ACDA convention and a RESOLUTION

This past week I attended the MA ACDA convention in Wenham. I feel sort of obligated to blog about it, and besides I've had a number of people ask me how it went, so here goes. The short answer is that I'm glad I went. Next year I will make an effort to attend every day; this year I had to miss Monday because I was teaching at Lasell Village, and I wish I hadn't had to miss the Monday sessions. The clinicians, Dr. Judy Bowers and Dr. Kenneth Fulton, were excellent; Dr. Bowers is a powerhouse, and you have to just hang onto your hat and go with the flow! And I enjoyed watching Dr. Fulton conduct, and discuss gesture; I wish there had been more time for gesture-work. I really liked the way he used his arms.

But it was a little dispiriting that the conference seemed geared towards music in schools, and didn't really focus on any higher levels, not even community choruses. And, of course, most of the people there were music teachers; I didn't see any of the conductors of Boston's many excellent choruses there. I suppose it's a chicken-and-the-egg problem, but I would have loved for every GBCC and university conductor in MA to have gone, and I also would have loved for at least some of the conference to be pitched toward conductors of higher-level groups.

I was also disappointed with the music in some of the reading packets. (Reading packets are the highlight of most choral conferences - you get a big stack of new music and you all read through it together so you can figure out what you like.) But this too is a complex problem - the conductors can only choose from what the publishers are willing to give them for free for these conferences, and the publishers who are happy to give out free music tend to be the ones who are trying to push schlocky stuff, and good luck getting Universal Edition to give you copies of an Arvo Pärt piece to read through at a convention b/c that's just not going to happen. There was, of course, some new stuff I was happy to be introduced to in the reading packets, such as Shvedov, Trotta, Guillaume, some nice works and arrangements by Andrea Ramsey, and I was glad there was a good scattering of world music. But on the whole there were a lot of major seconds, and while major seconds can be done beautifully, they are currently the scourge of schlocky new choral music (this is an example.)

The thing that got me thinking most was a comment one of the attendees made during the very last Q&A before we all went home. I don't remember who it was, but someone raised a hand and made a sad comment about how all the "real composers" (not my words!) were not writing for chorus nowadays. Well! This stirred up a lot of thoughts in me, as you might imagine.

On the one hand, he had a point. If you look at the list of Pulitzers won in the last 10 years or so in music, half were awarded to symphonic works. The others were awarded to an opera, 2 chamber works, 1 jazz album, and 2 choral works. The argument that symphonic music is still (sadly) considered more serious than choral music is valid, and although the times are changing, there is still a feeling that if you want to be considered among the greatest composers you have to write something symphonic.

On the other hand, I had just presented two lectures on contemporary choral music at Lasell Village, and the notion that we are not getting great new top-notch choral music is ludicrous. But there is this sad divide between the professional classical/new music circles and the choral director circles, and I don't think choral conductors really realize what is going on out there. I mean, if you are a choral conductor and you haven't heard David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion yet, then that's too bad. And I get it why it's hard - I'm a fan of new music, and yet I still hadn't heard Lang's piece until this summer when I listened to it during my lecture prep. With the amount of work we have to do to make a living, it's no wonder there is no time to pay attention to what is going on in the wider world of music. 5th graders WEAR YOU OUT, man, and don't I know it, and trying to keep up with what's on the cutting edge of choral music is close to impossible if you are a teacher, or trying to hustle and make your living as a musician.

But despite the nigh-impossibility, it is still important to do. It is not acceptable to me that choral conductors think new music means Whitacre and Z. Randall Stroope, and don't know the works of Wheeler, Betinis, Lang, Reed Thomas, Sametz, Argento, Bolcom, Ashalomov, Finney, Stucky, Rands, Long, Tann, Harbison, Pinkham, Sierra, O'Regan, Paulus, Walker (which one?), Hawley, Yi. There is so much out there and we have to bridge the divide.

My good friend Amelia Nagoski was also at this conference, and she has developed an interest and expertise in mind-body work, and how it relates to conductors. (I highly recommend her blog Thoughtful Gestures.) She will be presenting tai chi workshops at the Eastern Division Conference next March, and I mentioned that I was still trying to figure out if I had a niche or specialty that I could present at conferences. "Well," she said, "I think you should do modern music. Unlike a lot of other people, you really love it, and we all need some help figuring out what's out there." And I think she's right. It's intimidating, because there is so much out there and it's hard to be dive in without the judgement of history; with new music one must rely exclusively on one's own taste! But doing research on new music would be right in line with the original purpose of this blog, which was to force me to engage with the wider choral and musical world. Amelia's blog is there because she has passion for her ideas and needs to express them; my blog is here because I needed an impetus to focus my gaze out beyond next week's rehearsal.

So, I hereby announce a new feature on this blog. One to two times a month, I will feature a piece of new choral music that I think everyone should be aware of. It will be music I consider fresh and fulfilling and worth performing. And hopefully it will be a tool to help me find all kinds of great new choral stuff. We are going to bridge the new music/choral divide! Are you with me?