Words Just Cannot Cut It

Tuesday was an astounding today. I don’t think we could have packed any more into the day with lectures and a rehearsal for our concert on Wednesday, as well as our two small Conductor’s Concerts at 4:30 and 8:30. I think about everything that happened and the music that was made, the emotions we felt as one group, and I can’t put words to it, no matter how hard I try. Every conductor evoked honesty, heart-felt emotion, and beauty with each song, and the room was filled with awe.

We awoke for breakfast in the morning, followed by a lecture by Stephen Darlington, who spoke on Francesco Durante’s Requiem in C minor as a model for Mozart. The lecture was interesting, and everyone had music to sing during the lecture as well which, I thought, was a nice warmup for the busy day ahead. Lunch followed, and soon enough we were back on the way to the church for our rehearsal with Daniel Hyde!

The rehearsal was a lot of fun, singing again as the full choir, and working with Daniel Hyde. He had a very calming presence and had fun with the choir’s sound, finding new ways to make music out of the Chichester Psalms, which we worked so hard on in the spring semester. Mr. Hyde also brought with him a boy soprano for the solo in the second movement of the Psalms, who also happened to be named Max, and he did a phenomenal job with the music. He sang beautifully and seemed to enjoy working with the choir, and the girls all melted over him, which was amusing of course. In addition to working with Mr. Hyde, we also rehearsed some of our other pieces, including Os Justi by Bruckner, Entreat me not to leave you by Forrest, Beati quorum via by Stanford, Salve Regina by Arvo Pärt, and A Prayer of Cardinal Newman and All Shall Be Amen And Alleluia by James Whitbourn. We felt at home and comfortable once we began singing some of our other repertoire that we loved so much throughout the year. Once the rehearsal ended, we then changed and enjoyed teatime before our first Conductor’s Concert.

The first concert went well, where conductors would come up to show what they had worked on with the choir for the past eight or nine days, and everything went beautifully. One and the next, they would come up in front of us as we smiled at them and the connection that each one had developed with the choir in such a short time was incredible. I know I felt great singing for each conductor as you would see them look around at each member of the choir, and see the smiles and the happiness in their eyes. The conductors afterward would take a picture with the choir as we smiled and would applaud each on their success and growth in such a short amount of time.

We followed the first concert with some relaxing free time as well as dinner, but soon enough we were right back to the church and singing in the second of our Concerts that night. Again, each conductor was brilliant and full of life and emotion throughout, giving every piece of themselves to the choir and making the most honest and open music they could. The night was stunning, and seeing the looks on both Dr. Jordan and Dr. Whitbourn was just as exciting as you could see how excited and joyful they were for each conductor.

Following the second concert, the choir was shocked when the conductors asked us to stay where we were on in front of them, and for us to take a seat. We followed their instruction, having no clue where this was going, and boy, were we in for it. Some of the conductors read out loud a letter for the choir, where they spoke to us about grace, gratitude and more. They thanked us for everything that we had done throughout the week as we worked with them side by side, and grown close personally to each. The letter was beautiful, and in no time the choir was in tears. We were very moved by everything they had to say, sad as this was the last day we would work with our newest friends and family, and thankful for everything that had occurred in time we spent with each conductor. The conductors shared another treat as well, in that they sang a song for us, and we cried and laughed at the work they did and the gift they shared with us. The night was beautiful, and I was not prepared for that whatsoever. We all came together and gave hugs and said thanks for everything, and saying how wonderful everyone had done. I cannot put words to the emotions or the music that we created and felt on Tuesday night, nor will I try, because words could not describe how inspiring and incredible the night was. I will also try to get a copy of the letter for all to see, so hopefully that comes soon!!

The conductors, I would say, have become a part of the Williamson Voices family, and I know I cherish the time we spent with each. They have taught me many valuable lessons in the week we spent working with them, whether in the rehearsals or not. I am excited to see what the future holds for each, knowing that they will go on and spread the ideas we value to their own lives. I also hope to see them again, as many of us develop friendships with our new family members.

This night reminded me of how important it is that I am here in Oxford with the Westminster Williamson Voices. I can see how this choir touches the hearts of those we sing and work with, and there is nothing greater. The love that this choir brings to all that we do is truly remarkable, and Tuesday night only proves that yet again.

About choralmusicinstitute

Presented by Westminster Choir College of Rider University and Oxford University's St. Stephen's House, the one-week institute provides instruction to all levels of conductors.
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