Things have been very smooth with Newton Choral Society this semester. We are working on Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” for a concert in November, and I regularly run warm-ups, and do a lot of sectionals. Currently, my goals this semester are very self-centered, so to speak. I am taking this opportunity to learn more about myself as a conductor and educator. I am trying to learn more about working with different ensembles, and more specifically, ensembles at different levels musically.
This choir is auditioned, but volunteer only, and so I have to be careful about my teaching techniques, because these singers do not have to be there. They are there by choice, and can leave at any time. There are certain techniques I have put into practice that have been all but rejected by the choir, and one of the things that their conductor, David Carrier is teaching me is, when to let it go and move on. This choir does very well in rehearsal settings, but I have noticed in observing David at work, that he does less intense work on trouble areas that I would normally rehearse to death. It is also very interesting to have an opportunity to work with a choral conductor who has a very different conducting style from both my own, and my mentor’s here at NEC. We use different conducting gestures in teaching and performance practice, but we also have different interpretations of the music, and I have needed to adjust my interpretation for a choir that is not always completely flexible to different conducting styles.
More recently I have, through a very unfortunate accident, been called to lead large majorities of rehearsals. David recently had an accident, resulting in surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. He is recovering well, and has been attending rehearsals, but, as he is still recovering, is unable to stand for long periods of time. Having to step up to this responsibility has actually been a great learning experience for me, in knowing that anything can happen at any given time, and I need to be prepared to pick up the slack and take over, and teach/conduct as effectively as the conductor himself.
The choir has been nothing but gracious to me, and has welcomed me into the ensemble with great enthusiasm, and I regularly get comments at how great it is to work with me, and what a wonderful job I am doing. Things are going quite well, and I have great confidence that this choir will put forth a great concert.