Guest Conductor Dr. Janet Galván & Rebecca Lord, 2012 Conducting Fellow
Tonight is the opening reception for the Transient Glory Symposium. Yesterday I had the privilege of working with Cantare and the Young Men’s Chorus, two of the divisions involved in the three performances scheduled this weekend. It is inspiring to see the great work that the conductors have done in preparing these ensembles on this most challenging music. The conductors have shown varied gestures in order to be flexible for the fellows who will conduct them in rehearsal and concert. I hope all of the fellows realize what an enormous gift this is from Francisco Núñez and Elizabeth Núñez – to turn their ensembles over to strangers for a high profile concert. This perspective makes the experience of Transient Glory far different from other masterclasses or conducting competitions. The fellows are charged with taking the ensembles to the last steps and guiding them in performance.
The other added dimension is that the fellows will have not only the guidance of the faculty, but the guidance of the composers on their own music. As a conducting teacher, I teach with the goal of honoring the composer’s wishes and making sure that the gesture is helpful and meaningful for the choir. For me (and many conductors), conducting is not about making pretty pictures but trying one’s best to embody the music in our bodies so that we can lead the singers in a more musical way. Sufficient time must be spent to get the gestures into our bodies.
In the Choral Music Experience (CME) course that I teach, the conductors work with a choir, but performance is not the goal. The goal is to give the conductors ideas make their conducting more musical and helpful for great singing and to think about (having their videos as an aid) and work into their bodies over the following year. Many conductors are able to make immediate changes (all make SOME immediate changes). However, many take a year to process and get comfortable with new ways of thinking.
At this symposium, the stakes are high, and the fellow must work the new information into their bodies almost immediately. They are a highly select group of conductors and the faculty and staff members are confident that they can do this.
I look forward to working with the conductors as a faculty member and conducting teacher. Our job is to support the fellows and help find the best way to work with these very flexible young people and bring the best performance of the music from them – and to take ideas presented by the composers so that they can bring the performance as close as possible to the composer’s wishes. This event is about the music and the performers. For the conductor, working this information into their bodies is important so that the focus will be not on the conductor – but the performance of this great music. So that their conducting of the composer’s work looks like the composer’s work – not gestures imposed on the composer’s work but gestures which grow out of as complete an understanding of the work as possible.
Is there added pressure with a concert, conducting teachers, and composers all adding ideas? Absolutely.
I know that everyone involved will leave inspired. I was on the faculty for the last Transient Glory. It was a growth experience for everyone there. I left with my mind scrambled in a good way. It gave me reason to re-think programming and challenges and what to present to my ensembles and audiences. Hearing what each faculty member and composer had to say was wonderful food for my soul. The bar is set very high this week for everyone. Hold on! It’s going to be a great ride!
These are concerts not to be missed. The juxtaposition of chamber music, interviews, and choral music makes the evening incredible and different. Programming that one would expect from a genius!