Monday was definitely one of our busier days. Everyone stayed busy from 8 in the morning until Compline, which ended shortly before 10 p.m.
We all had breakfast in the morning first thing, and followed with lectures by Dr. Jordan and Dr. Pilkington. Dr. Jordan spoke on the ideas involving conducting, and specifically about harmonic rhythm. Once you understand the harmonic rhythm of a piece, the musical line develops and an energy appears in the music that could not exist before. In addition, he mentioned some of the Laban terms briefly for all to see quickly, as he had much to cover in one hour.
Dr. Pilkington followed from 11 until noon with a lecture on what it takes to make it in the professional world of music. We watched segments from different video clips, in which one of the judges of choreography for a work detailing Michael Jackson’s life described having, if I am correct, the “Ooze and Gooze.” I take it as that something special inside you, that you use to set you apart from others. The woman in the video said that if you do not have the “Ooze and Gooze,” you could not make it any farther until you found that. Dr. Pilkington then took those clips as well as the poetry he brought to the next level, going deeper in, dissecting the works more and more, and giving more of his ideas into how to be successful.
From there, we went on to our lunch break, savoring every moment we could sit and relax as we knew afterwards, we had lots of singing and work to do. Good and fun work though of course, as we looked forward to working with each of the conductors with the full choir.
Once 2 p.m. hit, the singing commenced. Each conductor was able to take the time to run through the piece they would conduct in the concert Tuesday night, and get an idea of final preparations and how things differed between working with half of the choir compared to the full. Singing with everyone continues to feel better each day, as we get back into the swing of things, listening in again and finding that sound that we love so much. Each of the first 12 conductors went through their pieces, as we sang with everything we had for each one. Seeing the smiles and the feelings they expressed was so uplifting and inspiring, as we could see the growth each one is making and seeing that we are the ones that are helping to teach them just as much as Dr. Jordan and Dr. Whitbourn do. Both Dr. Jordan and Dr. Whitbourn continued to say that we were the teachers, but it hasn’t been until recently that I could really start to see that fact.
Following the first session, we enjoyed our teatime, our precious half an hour of relaxation, de-stressing, and delicious snacks and drink. I wish we could implement the teatime into our lives at Westminster, as it is one of those times where I feel time slows down and we can enjoy each other’s company and forget about the things in life that run us up the walls. It works so well here; it would be interesting to see something like that occur back at school during the year.
After teatime, we continued working with the second half of the conductors, again with each running through their song as Dr. Jordan and Dr. Whitbourn sat silently writing little notes for each to consider for their last night to practice. The second session went as well as the first, and quickly, which was great since I was starving. I grabbed a quick dinner at Sainbury’s, which has been the best place for a quick bite, or snacks, huge two liter water bottles, and more!!! Finally to finish the night out, we had another lecture about meaning in 17th and 18th century music from Edward Higginbottom, and a Compline service as well. The lecture was interesting and went pretty quickly, and the Compline service was beautiful again.
To end the night, the sophomores tried to get together as best as possible with our graduate assistants Dom and Emily, as this trip will be one of our last times together with the two of them. We had a nice night spending some time together, talking and joking as we enjoyed the company of friends after a successful and memorable year.
The crazy part is that our time here is almost over, and that we will soon return home after such an amazing trip. Tuesday and Wednesday will be emotional days with the two concerts and as our last two full days in Oxford before catching our flight home Thursday night. But, the only thing we can do is enjoy them as much as possible, spend as much time with each other as we can, and cherish the moments we have, not regret those we missed. This trip continues to stun me, and I can only expect more and more as we close out our time across the pond.