Alongside eleven other composers and two conductors, I spent every day fully immersed in choral writing, with daily classes in ear training and music analysis, master classes with a variety of choral pros, private lessons with the fantastic composer (and fellow SF Conservatory alum) Jeffrey Parola, and best of all, several days reading and rehearsing original compositions with the amazing professional core of Choral Chameleon.
I brought two pieces with me: “A Prayer In Spring,” which I originally drafted two years ago but had basically left in the bottom drawer until this week, and “O Child,” an original Christmas carol that I finished only a week before the Institute. The choir sang “O Child” in a rehearsal for me, giving me a chance to record it for later revision, but “Prayer” became the main course, and the piece that ended up in the final concert.
The piece was conducted in the concert by Matt Oltman, a countertenor and former conductor of Chanticleer, and as you might expect, his musical sensibilities are sharp as a tack. With his precise direction and great energy, the choir nailed “A Prayer In Spring,” which ended up as the closer at the final concert. Beautiful, exhilarating, inspiring…I am now officially spoiled.
I took an extra day in NYC after our final concert, and I found myself wandering around Carroll Gardens—the beautiful neighborhood where the Institute took place—feeling both fulfilled and immensely lonely for all the friends I had made during week. Those connections were undoubtedly the best part of the experience. Vince set a tone of unconditional love and support from day one, and every single person followed suit. It’s a marvel how tightly a group of like-minded people can bond around a common purpose in so short a time.
As Vince told us: we are all part of the family now. And it truly feels that way—like we are all moving forward together in our careers with a new web of mutual support. Everyone who participated in the Institute—students and teachers alike—are music pros, many of whom conduct choirs of their own. I left with some of what seemed like sincere invitations to send some music their way, and you better believe I plan to take them up on that. So I look forward to spending time with my new family again, hopefully very soon.