Choristers in the Church
~ Vladimir Egorovic Makovsky
Recently I was privileged to read an interview in World Magazine with Anton Armstrong, 20-year director of the critically acclaimed St Olaf Choir.
Like professionals in any arena we all like to know what our peers are saying and thinking. When asked what visceral response Dr. Armstrong looks for from his audience during a performance he remarked, “We work very hard for perfection, so that the message we have to share is not distracted. If you can eliminate all the distractions of the human mind, the beauty of the music illuminates the text of the message.”
Of course Dr. Armstrong is talking about the “perfection” of the performers. What can the musicians do to stay out of the way of the message of the music while, simultaneously, acting as the vessels who, in fact, deliver that same message?
It’s a marriage of hard work and mystery, culminating in the magic of live performance. It is not unlike standing before a Renoir and appreciating the beauty of a masterpiece one moment, and then as you look closer at the work you see the actual work of the brush strokes that made it all possible. Music is like this.
As we prepare for the 2012-2013 season I’m looking forward, again, to many of the pieces we will try to perfect for you, our patrons. One of my favorite motifs appearing in each of the Mozart Journey concerts thus far is the surprise that awaits each listener when Mozart delivers his perfection in the lines of the Missa Brevis that reads, “Cum Sancto Spiritu in Gloria Dei Patris.” Mozart out-does himself in each of the Missas. How can one man have so much creativity so as to be able to present this quintessential line of the Mass uniquely in each occurrence? If my count is correct probably about 17 times. And there are no repeats.
This is just one of many reasons I am pleased to serve on the board of St Charles Singers. I am privileged to help support the choir behind the scenes as a team member guiding and directing our future and long-term sustainability so that the perfection and beauty of choral music can continue. At the same time I also enjoy these wonderful moments described above as a team member of the tenors, too. Gee, is that double-dipping? I’d say so--unapologetically!
Now for the full effect of the line I described above, here’s the whole sentence in Latin…and then in English. Enjoy! See you in September.
"Quonium Tu solus sanctus, Tu solus altissimus, Tu solus Dominus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu in Gloria Dei Patris amen."
"For Thou alone are holy, Thou alone art most high, Thou alone are Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. May it be so."
Jay's full bio can be read here