The Road Home

The Road Home 

Michael Dennis Browne

Tell me where is the road I can call my own,

That I left, that I lost, so long ago?

All these years I have wandered,

Oh when will I know

There’s a way, there’s road that will lead me home?

After wind, after rain, when the dark is done,

As I wake from a dream in the gold of day,

Through the air there’s a calling

From far away,

There’s a voice I can hear that will lead me home.

Rise up, follow me, come away is the call,

With love in your heart as the only song;

There is no such beauty as where you belong.

Rise up, follow me,

I will lead you home.

This poem is the text to Stephen Paulus’ The Road Home. My Chamber Choir will be singing this for a concert in a week. Each singer is digesting these beautiful words and working on musical phrases. The music sounds simplistic, yet provides so much depth; the text seems so straight-forward, yet so profoundly reflective and vulnerable.

There is no such beauty as where you belong…

May the love in my heart be the only song…

Finding New Choral Music – Ola Gjeilo

Lately, I’ve been longing to hear great new music. New choral music to be specific. Sometimes, you just need to hear a beautiful SATB choir to fill you heart. I am excited to share my discoveries with you.

Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo

Norwegian-born composer who moved to the States to study  composition at the Julliard School. As a pianist-composer, he features the piano often as an equal partner to the choir much like how Schumann or Strauss set vocal-piano pairing in lieder. Take a listen to Ubi Caritas II with Piano Improvisation sung by the Central Washington University Chamber Choir (Gary Weidenaar, director), with an improvised piano accompaniment played by the composer:

As a choral conductor and singer, this music makes me want to  conduct, sing, and play it! Gorgeous harmonies and lyrical lines float on top of such well-written piano part. I think it was originally conceived as an a cappella piece; this particular version with piano works wonders. The music is uplifting, reverent, yet free, joyous, and moving. Being a pianist, I was really curious how the accompaniment is written, and how much of the video recording was Gjeilo’s improvisation. Gentle, but stylistic jazz piano licks are very nice. I found him on Twitter, so I mentioned him:

There you go! I’d love to see that transcription!

I also love Luminous Night of the Soul, scored for SATB, piano and string quartet; lyrics are by Charles Anthony Silvestri (lyricist for Eric Whitacre’s Sleep) and St. John of the Cross. I feel like I’m watching a movie when I listen to this piece. Like good storytelling, this music builds well into an epic symphonic ending.

 

And let me say that although I never heard of Central Washington University Chamber Choir before, I am now a fan. Kudos to its director, Gary Weidenaar, and music faculty! These students are musical. How fortunate that these students had the chance to work with a prolific composer!

I think any collegiate or adult choirs would love Gjeilo’s music. Perhaps, they will also suit some ambitious high school choruses.  You know, those choirs who love challenges and sing great  music. If you conduced Gjeilo’s music before, let me know which ones you have performed with your group. If his music is new to you, which one would you want to give a try?

Interesting fact: The Phoenix Chorale’s 2012 album, Northern Lights: Choral Works of Ola Gjeilo, featuring was voted “Best Classical Vocal Album of the Year” in iTunes Best of 2012. Way to go, Charles Bruffy & The Phoenix Chorale!

I am grateful for composers like Gjeilo who fill our world with compositions that make our hearts dance. I look forward to learning more about his music. I’m calling his style Neo-Romantic. What would you call it?

Check out his site or look him up on Spotify.

Be well & see you next timego and discover some new music!

@Doremigirl

 

Charles Hazlewood: Trusting the Ensemble

I can’t get this TEDTalk by Charles Hazlewood out of my head. It’s been months since @shaugland shared this link on Twitter.  Even if you are not a conductor, you should watch this. If you are a parent, a teacher, or a musician, you need to watch this and get into the conversation:

This brilliant presentation contains much food for thought.

TRUST is an important word. I would guess that many of us like being on the receiving end (ie. people trusting us). Boy, isn’t it hard to trust others? 🙂

This quote by an unknown author deeply resonates with Maestro Hazlewood:

Trust is the best medium for success. It creates an environment in which people feel free to be authentic, passionate, committed, and willing to share all they have to offer. ~author unknown

 

I reflected a lot, thinking about the simile (conducting is like a small bird in your hand) and the lessons learned through the South African Music project, the singing demonstration by the TED Choir (the F-E-D motive), the extraordinary story behind the Paraorchestra, and of Haydn‘s wordless, but apparent revolt in Farewell Symphony finale. The Maestro challenged me as a musician and teacher to assess myself as an artistic leader.

What am I doing to create a safe and passionate space for my students? What needs to change?

Musicians and music teachers, think of your ensembles. What is your story? What is your experience building trust with your group? How do you inspire the young musicians to feel free to be themselves, but give all to their ensemble?

And do you agree with this statement?

Where there is trust, there is music, and by extension, life. Where there is no trust, music simply withers away….

 

Why or why not?

~ Yoon (will post a post regarding my experience with my choirs)