I don’t have much opportunity to alter my routine: teaching, conducting, score prep, meetings. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world outside my rehearsal room that’s influencing my students, singers, audience, and administration. Thankfully, there are passionate, brilliant people looking deeply into the world we inhabit and finding ways we can stay more connected to the past, the present, and the future, and how we can use those connections to make our work more beautiful and more meaningful.
One of the things I love about ACDA conferences is the chance to interrupt the self-perpetuating cycle of doing more of what I already know, and the chance to be influenced by those brilliant, passionate people. With inspiring energy and commitment, they show me things I’ve never considered — or at least never thought I could manage myself. They spark curiosity, and allow me to reboot my work, to break out of the merely habitual routine into fresh thoughtfulness. “Research” may sound dusty, but in fact it’s the thing that allows us to shake off the build-up of old assumptions!
I’m especially excited about our two Research Roundtable sessions, which will feature connections between established standard operating procedures and much broader issues: “The Science of Singing,” and “Saving the World Through Singing.” Both will have conversations among leaders in their subject, comparing notes and giving the rest of us practical advice on how we can make our rehearsals, our singers, and our communities better. These inspiring speakers remind us that we work in a world where technology advances side by side with social injustice. Both of these things — and so much more! — are influencing our singers and our audiences whether we acknowledge them or not. The impact of that influence could come sneaking up on us unless we’re paying attention. On the other hand, if we can see if coming, we can harness it to create more beauty, to connect more meaningfully.
The discovery of new ideas, or the discovery of new connections between old ideas, pushes open boundaries between scientists and artists, singers and conductors, audiences and ensembles, communities and music-makers. But it only works if we take opportunities like these to challenge our habits, and embrace new possibilities.
The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. There are thousands of us; we are mighty and we are legion. Let’s listen to each other. Let’s ask questions. Let’s look further and deeper for the answers. Let’s meet in Boston, and see how far we can go together.