Good morning colleagues and friends,
I write to you in the spirit of joy and thanksgiving as I – like you – brace for the coming weeks of “Oh so much Holiday Cheer!” For choral musicians, I can hardly imagine a more exhilarating/exhausting time of year. If your situation is anything like mine, you’ll perform for more admiring fans in the next few weeks than you will for the rest of the year in its entirety.
Since I wrote you last, I have traveled to a choral festival in Sri Lanka where my only role was to sit and absorb the singing traditions of choirs from India, Indonesia, China, Iran, and of course, Sri Lanka itself. We give so much verbiage to music as the universal language, which quite directly, becomes a bit more complicated when the music itself contains text which may or may not be familiar to the western ear. What is universal however, is the joy of singing in an ensemble – especially when that ensemble has a strong sense of shared community and musical conviction. I saw this time and time again, somehow refreshingly anew when a choir from Iran sings an African-American Spiritual, or a choir from Indonesia knocks a recent Jake Runestad piece “out of the park!” It seems that in singing, there is no east or west, let alone a sense of them or us! Humans, universally, enjoy making music together, and the inspiration the audience derives from that phenomenon is universal as well.
This is another reason, or perhaps simply the same reason, I think ACDA is such an important community of those who share the conviction of singing together. I hope you will click through on the Featured Choirs in this issue of ChoraLINK, if simply to remind yourself that what we do truly matters, and what we do to keep ourselves rejuvenated and inspired – especially in the midst of the frenetic holiday season – matters even more! For me, that inspiration is more often than not a moment of serendipity; experiencing a previously unknown composition for the first time, sharing a memory from the good ol’ days with a colleague and friend, or hearing and seeing the joy in the eyes of a singer who is overcome by the enormity of shared musical conviction.
Of course, I’m making an unabashed plug for registering for the ACDA Conference in Pittsburgh, (March 7-10, 2018) reminding you of the virtues of buying your plane ticket early and booking yourself into the conference hotel, but genuinely in the spirit of thanksgiving and renewal. We owe that to our students. We owe that to ourselves.
Paul D Head
Eastern Region President