Tag: Avondale chorus

Hope, Peace, Joy and Love--a Holiday message from DCG president Mary Gowing
2015.12.15 23:23:25

Okay, take at least 3 big deep breaths. This season of time between Thanksgiving and New Year can get a bit hectic and crazy. So first off, take some big breaths.  Really, while you are reading this, start your deep breathing. You'll feel more relaxed just by letting in more air. It's something we in the choral biz know, and partly why singing feels so good. Are you still doing your breathing? Good, keep going while I wish you 4 things:

The first thing I wish you is Hope. I wish you the kind of Hope that sings in the midst of war and conflict as expressed in the song Prayer of the Children by Kurt Bestor which we sang last January in our Et in Terra Pax concert.You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/mary-gowing-1/prayerofthechildrendcg/s-Wswv6. Whether that confict is international in scope,  in your community, in your family or in your own spirit I wish you the Hope that knows that there will be a better day.

Still taking those relaxing breaths? Good. The second wish I have for you is Peace. The kind of peace that a mother wishes and bestows on her chiild while holding her in her arms and singing her a lullaby. This wish for peace is expressed well by Iraqi Peace Song by Lori Tennenhouse which the DCG women and I sang in 2010. https://soundcloud.com/mary-gowing-1/iraqi-peace-song/s-Svffu. I wish you the kind of peace in that lullaby: of knowing you are loved and knowing you have a place in the world. Just deep breathing can help initiate a peaceful feeling. Try it when you aren't reading blogs and emails, perhaps in the maestrom of holiday chaos. 

Thirdly, I wish you Joy. The kind of joy I feel when singing with the DCG. I wish for you to be able to follow what you are passionate about and to be able to share your interests with others and inspire them to pursue their own Joy. I wish you the Joy that comes from being in the zone of relaxed focus while occupied in a meaningful endeavor. An example of this joy for me is singing Mozart's Missa Brevis with my favorite chorus, in particular the Gloria section. https://soundcloud.com/mary-gowing-1/missa-brevis-gloria. What joyful music that is. I wish you that!

Lastly, I wish you Love. Not so much the romantic kind, though if that is what you are interested in I wish you that too. I wish the kind that is within you and that is compassionate and patient and seeks the kindest way.I wish you a loving heart that is curious and open to other people, no matter how different, difficult or unlovable they are presently. I wish you a love that grows and radiates to others. I wish you a love that is action oriented because you feel kinship with the universe,  as in the song We Are that the DCG sang at Sure Stars Shining concert in 2014:https://soundcloud.com/mary-gowing-1/we-are-1/s-ic2uJ.

I wish you and the whole world Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this holiday. And I wish for you the relaxation that comes from lots a deep breaths whether while singing, meditating, or while not blowing up at Aunt Edna for whatever she just did that managed to push just the right buttons but somehow you did some deep breaths and the urge to garrote her passed.

Happy Holidays!

Mary Gowing

DeKalb Choral Guild, president

Tags: Avondale chorus | Decatur Community Chorus | Atlanta chorus | Joy | Love | Peace | Hope | Holiday | DCG

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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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