A week ago Sunday (March 15th, 2009) was my first performance with DCINY, the company that I’ve partnered with for another June concert this year in NYC and four concerts next year (including two in Carnegie Hall). The performers and I had a BLAST, especially with the premiere of “Animal Crackers (Volume II).” I changed a bunch of things during rehearsal, both in the vocal parts and the piano part, constantly tweaking it and trying to make the three pieces funnier. The old Vaudeville saying is so true: ‘dying is easy, comedy is hard.’ In the end we got some great laughs from a terrific audience, and we gave one of the best performances of The Five Hebrew Love Songs I’ve ever been a part of – such musical singing, and an outstanding string quartet.
Then it was off to Minnesota for the “Eric Whitacre Extravaganza.” (I know, I know. I didn’t come up with the name). What a town! On Friday night they held a reading session for the community, and the ‘community sing’ was probably the best pick-up choir I’ve ever worked with. With another rehearsal we could easily have been ready to perform an actual concert.
I also gave three extended NPR interviews, including this one with the terrific John Birge.
Then to the concert. Over the weekend I worked with The 75 voice St. Olaf Choir; the 120 voice VocalEssence; the 36 voice Ensemble Singers; and the 170 voice Minnesota Honors Choir, whose auditioned and came to Minneapolis from all over the state for this event. And my god can the Minnesotans sing. Truly outstanding musicianship from every choir, regardless of age or experience.
The sold out show – 2,400 seats – was with one of the best audiences I’ve ever seen (heard). Just incredible enthusiasm, and a sense in the hall that these people truly adored choral music. Such a deeply spiritual experience for me.
And I premiered another new piece, Nox Aurumque, sort of a darker, brood-ier companion piece to Lux Aurumque, with the Ensemble Singers and St. Olaf combining for the premiere. And Charles Anthony Silvestri (the poet for Sleep, Leonardo Dreams, Lux Aurumque, Nox Aurumque) joined me onstage to talk about each of our collaborations together, including Nox.
At the end the concert, all of the singers came onstage (nearly 400) and we performed Cloudburst and Sleep. I can’t even begin to describe what it was like conducting that many extraordinary singers at the same time. Just… transcendent. And powerful. And frickin’ AWESOME.
The whole concert, including all of my commentary between pieces, can be purchased online through the VocalEssence website. My deepest, deepest thanks to DCINY, VocalEssence, Philip Brunelle, Dr. Anton Armstrong, Bruce Becker, Russ Christiansen, MPR, and ALL of the musicians and educators who made the past two weeks possible. WOO HOO!!!!!