Muse-Sings: Mindful Chorus
2014.10.07 20:00:11

October 7th,2014

MaryRoot landscapeMary Evelyn Root Mindfulness is all the buzz anymore. I try to live mindfully. I have come to cherish the spaces between thoughts. When I reject the fiendishly persistent illusion that multi-tasking is a great time-saver, I can find myself in a powerfully luminous and invigorating zone.

Lately, I have tried to be more mindful in my work as a choral conductor. At first glance, conducting a chorus might well be the epitome of multi-tasking. Conducting is an exercise in constant anticipation of the near future. How is it then, that I feel that same affirming energy of the luminous zone of mindfulness when I conduct? I think the answer lies in a broader view that, even though I have to be in a nearly incessant anticipatory state, I am present in that state. I suppose that any endeavor that takes us to that zone can be subdivided into many smaller tasks, and there can be an overarching focus that pulls these micro-tasks into single mindful flow.

I have realized another necessity in my efforts to conduct mindfully: I must be deliberately selfless. I have to remind myself that it is not about me. I used to profess it was all about the music and the composer’s intentions, but in all honesty, I kind of liked the attention and the control. Now, I think it is about the extraordinary and intimate community we become in joining to make choral music. I think of the chorus as an organism that works continuously in an intricately adapting sensitivity to each part and stimulus.   I cannot be unmoved, mollifying, supercilious, and self-justifying of my own decisions when I realize that some singers are uncomfortable with repertoire decisions or when my gesture does not elicit the response I want from the chorus.   I must communicate better what my vision is, and I must reflect on how my physical gesture embodies that vision.  

Currently, the DeKalb Choral Guild is rehearsing for a concert of literature that explores the themes of life and death in dialogue. We are preparing two of William Schuman’s Carols of Death, and because they are quite demanding technically, a disproportionate amount of time has been spent in rehearsal on these two pieces.   To the singers, I think the concert feels weighty because of the distribution of rehearsal time. Upon realizing this, I tried to describe my vision for this concert and encourage them to appreciate that the repertoire is far more balanced than their current perspective.   Yet, I cannot predicate mindfulness solely on the concert; the singers, our accompanist, and I experience the whole of this process.

Nine rehearsals, individual study time, and a dress rehearsal are, likewise, disproportionately more than the concert itself. As a community, have we tacitly agreed that the focus is the concert?   If so, does that end justify a means that is difficult and challenging? As I ponder this, I think an important aspect of the answer is this: the singers must also be mindful.




Tags: DeKalb Community Chorus | Chorus Atlanta | community chorus | Avondale chorus | DeKalb Choral Guild | DCG


© 2019 DeKalb Choral Guild
Connected Sound - Websites for the Barbershop Community