Tag: community chorus

Muse Sings by Mary E. Root, Music Director, DeKalb Choral Guild
2015.08.13 15:14:05

Muse Sings

Mary E. Root, Music Director, DeKalb Choral Guild


Joining a Chorus is Worth It


'Tis the season of community chorus auditions! Each year, as summer wanes, community choruses begin gearing up for rehearsal and performance season. Audition notices go out, and, thus, begins the scramble and competition for good, dedicated singers. I direct an auditioned community chorus, and I find that I do not want to harass and cajole singers to consider our chorus; I want singers to be drawn to our chorus because this is a good chorus that prepares and sings excellent and interesting repertoire and because of our mission to be a compassionate chorus.

Singing in our chorus, the DeKalb Choral Guild, chorus requires significant commitment: repertoire must be studied outside rehearsal; there are membership dues and required performance attire; weekly rehearsal attendance is required; members are often asked to assist with duties beyond singing and with fundraising. And then, there is the audition required of all new prospective singers. Some singers view the audition as a badge, a rite of passage. Singers will often describe the "war wounds" of auditioning. I've blogged about my thoughts on the process of auditioning (see http://www.dekalbchoralguild.org/blog/viewpost/296.html), so I will summarize by saying that I can learn all I need to know about a prospective singer from a well-prepared solo and a conversation. I refer to the DCG audition as "the kinder, gentler, compassionate audition."

To save everyone some time, I am forthright about the music we sing: this is not choral arrangements of pop tunes – we sing serious, relevant choral music that spans from ancient to contemporary. I try to choose music that is accessible to audiences and worthy of their listening. As a chorus we focus on beautiful, deliberate choral sound, and solid vocal technique. We also focus on meaningful interpretation.

I recently rediscovered a quote from musician Brian Eno; I share it with you now for your consideration because I think it speaks so well to what the DeKalb Choral Guild aspires:

"When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a cappella [sic] singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That's one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue."

So, if you are reading this, and you are a singer thinking of joining a community chorus in the Atlanta area, I hope you will consider our chorus, the DeKalb Choral Guild. I will be honored to hear you sing and discuss membership with you. To schedule your audition, please leave a message at 678-318-1362. Our audition coordinator will call you back in quick fashion. Come, be a part of our singing community!


Tags: DCG | Mary Root | Decatur Chorus | chorus | community chorus | choir | joining a singing group | auditions | DeKalb Choral Guild | Atlanta chorus

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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

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