“We’ll build our house and chop our wood…and make our garden grow.”
These words have not stopped swirling around in my mind since that final chord released and the burst of applause that erupted in the Meetinghouse yesterday morning. We have much to be thankful for during these final days of 2011. For me, I’m thankful that you, the Chancel Choir of First Congregational Church of Greenwich, has come into my life and made it fuller!
Our choir has certainly come a long way since our first rehearsal on September 8. And as we all know, one can never rest on the successes of yesterday; we must continue to build our technique and our sound.
I want to share with you a video of a rehearsal by my mentor, Tom Trenney. Typically one thinks of a mentor who is older, has traveled many miles in their journey and has very wise advice and suggestions to their students. Tom is just 34, not that much younger than me. However, his insight into music is just phenomenal and his artistry extends beyond his age. He brings out the best in every singer in the choir. Back in Detroit, Tom was Director of Music and Organist for First Presbyterian in Birmingham, an affluent suburb of Detroit, not unlike Greenwich. In the short time he was there, he built (with a myriad of volunteers from the church and community) an outstanding musical program, both for worship and as an outreach to the southeastern Michigan community. One of those endeavors was “sounding light”, a 24 voice professional chamber choir, sponsored through the church’s “First Foundation” endowment program. “Lay me low” was one of the pieces that defined sounding light during one of the seasons I sang with the group. Tom has since left that church and gone to Lincoln, Nebraska and First Plymouth Church, a very large UCC church where, coincidently, their pastor and David Young happen to be very good friends!
Watch as Tom leads a rehearsal with the Chancel Choir at First Plymouth. This is a section of the Brahms Requiem, “How lovely is thy dwelling place”. You’ll have to turn your volume up a bit to hear all the details. See what he asks of the choir and listen carefully to how the sound changes as a result of his suggestions.
We are well on our way to achieving choral excellence, but we must continue to listen around our sections and others to hear what they are singing.
Next week: More about defining a “sound” within an ensemble.