Sunday, August 9, 2009

For Those Who Come to Hear

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Why We Sing, Part VII

As a chorister and as one who writes about choral singing, I’m always interested in understanding more about our communal attraction to the choral art, not just for we who sing, but also for those who come to hear.
In May, I wrote several essays (read them HERE) about CONCORA’s thrilling “Sonic Spectacular” concert, which presented a sparkling array of resonant music for choir and organ. In my own highly-biased review of that concert (read it HERE), I described my own reactions to the performance, from the perspective of a CONCORA singer who enjoyed the concert as a member of the audience.

I also heard from friends and associates in that evening's audience who were moved, transported, enlightened, and uplifted. CONCORA’s performance had reached them in utterly personal ways that we cannot truly conceive or comprehend. One friend, whose father had recently died, found deep solace in hearing Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria. A colleague who had experienced a similar loss spoke of the release and exaltation – his word – that came to him as he listened to Herbert Howell’s Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing.

In recent months, as I've helped CONCORA in writing and editing grant applications, I’ve repeatedly experienced the near-futility of trying to put into dry words the range of responses that our audiences experience when they come to hear CONCORA, and the meaning that CONCORA's music brings to their lives. How many others are there, who, like these two friends, experienced such deep comfort and exaltation in listening to uplifting choral music, sung with skill, commitment, and tenderness? Each of them found profound emotional and spiritual comfort in the words and music, and came away from the concert changed and renewed.

We at CONCORA – singers, staff, board, and of course, our Artistic Director Richard Coffey – hear from the few who have the means to contact us to share their responses, but surely there are hundreds and thousands of others who, year on year, find deep personal resonance and meaning in CONCORA's music.

When CONCORA "...performs with excellence choral music of the highest quality for the broadest possible audience" as promised in our mission statement, we can have only an inkling of how profoundly we affect people's lives. It’s something for every chorister in every ensemble to bear in mind as we prepare and perform for each other, for our listeners, and for the increase of beauty and human understanding. (Yes, I do believe that; you may read more about this idea HERE.)

That's a mission worth perpetuating.

Rick Coffey has planned a series of memorable programs for CONCORA's 2009-2010 season (details HERE). For more information on CONCORA, including information on tickets for next season’s exciting programs, contact CONCORA at http://www.concora.org/ or 860-224-7500.

Be part of the magic…you’ll be glad you did.

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