I just noticed it's been forever since my last post--sorry for that!
It's been a busy year, as I noted it would be in an earlier post. I took over for Jerry McCoy this past year on an interim basis (after his retirement) as Director of Choral Studies at UNT . . . and kept the Collegium Singers plus my appointment as Chair of the Division of Conducting & Ensembles for the College of Music. This amounted to 1 and 2/3rds jobs (and at times, more, it seemed!). Lots of work, but lots of fun stuff, too!
Collegium Singers performed at the NCCO conference in Portland, OR in November. The A Cappella Choir had a busy fall with some performances now on YouTube:
Rheinberger Cantus Missae
Sven-David Sandström Agnus Dei
Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer
and in the Spring:
Stravinsky Les Noces
Haydn The Creation
All lots of fun.
Plus leading the graduate program in conducting with nine students in residence, six students finishing papers successfully (2 from earlier years who were at deadline) and four current DMAs who all got jobs (plus one MM, Tucker Bilodeau, who got a great job as assistant choral director at Nolan Catholic HS in Ft. Worth). The DMAs who finished and where they've landed:
Rob Ward, DCA at Emporia State, Kansas
John Irving, DCA at Christopher Newport University, Virginia
Dwight Jilek, DCA at Bemidji State, Minnesota
Dean Jilek, DCA at University of North Dakota
Terrific conductors and people, all of them!
In addition, I ran a successful search for the new Director of Choral Studies at UNT and Allen Hightower will begin that position this fall. I look forward to working with him!
I also look forward to a normal load this year!
I don't think I'll be blogging as regularly as before, but I hope it won't be 10 months until my next post!
Soon I'm heading to Santa Fe to guest conduct Josh Habermann's fabulous Santa Fe Desert Chorale. If you're in or near Santa Fe at the end of July or early August, come see me! Schedule is here. I'm conducting an all-Shakespeare program called Sounds and Sweet Airs.
If not there, I hope to see you at UNT, at ACDA in Minneapolis or the Boston Early Music Festival or perhaps the IFCM in Barcelona, should Kathryn and I manage to go!
All best for a wonderful year for all of you.
As I mentioned, I'm leaving ChoralNet blog posting in another week. Next year will be interesting, to say the least.
l'll be taking over Jerry McCoy's Director of Choral Studies duties in an interim year at UNT, so conducting the A Cappella Choir, being the primary teacher of conducting for our graduate choral conducting students, being primary in creating their comprehensive exams and advising on dissertations (and four to six will be doing them this year!), and administering the choral program. I'll still be conducting the Collegium Singers (who will sing at the Boston Early Music Festival in June and at the NCCO conference in Portland, OR in November), and will remain chair of the Division of Conducting & Ensembles at the College of Music.
For A Cappella, I'm still planning much of the repertoire, but know I'll do Stravinsky's Les Noces in the spring. And I'll conduct the Grand Chorus (the three UNT mixed choirs) and Symphony Orchestra in Haydn's The Creation at the end of the year. This is part of the score study work to be done this summer. But that's one of the processes I really enjoy.
I've conducted Les Noces before, but one of the nice things is there's a very good new edition out. Any time I do this kind of work again, I usually want to completely re-study, but the new edition makes it even more important.
And with The Creation there are lots of things to decide. We'll do it in English and the libretto by Van Swieten has "issues," to say the least! There are other versions, including the Shaw/Parker translation, one by Nicholas Temperley and another by Neil Jenkins, who has several wonderful articles (1, 2, and 3), plus his own translation. This is the kind of research I love doing and I'll ultimately make individual decisions (collaborating with my soloists) on choices, but probably staying closely with the original text.
Peter Brown's book about the early performances of The Creation is wonderful and leads to all sorts of questions to answer, particularly about the size and disposition of the orchestra. In most of Haydn's performances with large forces, he had three sets of woodwinds (Harmonie), 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassons, and two horns. In addition his trumpets (2) were doubled, as well as the 2 trombones (he usually also had two sets of timpani). And he scored for contrabassoon and bass trombone (not doubled). The set of parts that Haydn used (and which have markings in his hand) also had extra parts for the contrabassoon and bass trombone, which I'll certainly use. All three of the Harmonie were not used all the time, but surviving evidence shows that it was likely that Harmonie 1 played everything (meaning some solos in the arias), Harmonie 2 on most big tuttis (even in arias), and Harmonie 3 in choruses and at other special places ("Let there be LIGHT").
If I can manage to use the triple Harmonie, it changes the balances and color . . . and in some moments, such as the "roar" of the lion, it will mean that the low Ab will be played by all cellos and basses, six bassoons and contrabassoons, plus bass trombone. A mighty roar, indeed!
It's these kinds of things that come from research that I enjoy doing. And hopefully it all comes together in an interpretation that is not just about being "historically correct," but gets to what Haydn wanted to express and how he expressed it. For me, that's part of all performance practice—figuring out how better to express the emotion and ideas of the composer.
Wish me luck!