Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Honors Choirs Spring Finale - The Beginning of a Lifetime of Music

We went to the Honors Choirs Spring Finale Sunday afternoon and we heard some truly great music. This whole season has just been one superb concert after another. Just when you think it couldn't get any better the next one is just a little bit better than the last one.

A great Honors Choirs season reflects a commitment to excellence...

Excellence in Selection of Music

Jenna was playing flute at a regional competition a few weeks ago where the teacher, who was evaluating the students, said he really liked several of the music selections that various groups had used. He pointed this out because the music highlighted certain elements of learning and techniques that challenged the students. He said that several of the music scores stretched the students into levels of performance rarely heard at the high school level or for some of the more accomplished players even at the college level. I think the Honors Choirs directors select choral music at the same advanced level this teacher was talking about. The directors then seek to achieve a performance at an exceptional level as well. 

For example, three years singing in the Concert Choir would exceed most college level vocal experiences in terms of challenging music, quality of the other singers and excellence in direction.

For those of us who aren't at this advanced level of musical enlightenment, I especially like that the paragraph in the program before each piece that tells us why the piece is special, and musically or historically significant. I also like the fact that the themes of the music are wholesome and the lyrics often tell a story that make you think.

Excellence in Performance

From my observation there seems to be an element of natural giftedness and God given creativity, coupled with good old fashioned discipline and hard work that makes a good singer a truly great singer.

Wow we had some great soloists in the Concert Choir. Jay Puffer, Jenna Petersen and Alex Schimbeno did an excellent job. Thanks to each of you for putting in the hard work to make these truly excellent and for the courage to do a solo. Allie Glenn Memmott if you pray as beautifully as you sing, you will never get a "wrong number". Thanks for sharing that with us.

Honors Choirs trains some great singers, but they have to want to put in the time and take risks to achieve the next level of excellence.

Excellence in Leadership

I continue to be amazed at the level of achievement of Amy and Bill Nelson's choirs. I think we underestimate the foundation that this lays for the older choirs. The energy mentioned in the concert dialog is a very positive force for great music, but it takes discipline and work to mold and shape this energy. When they learn this discipline at a young age it becomes a spring board for future levels of excellence.

Nick continues to impress me with the number of young men in his choir, I don't think most of us understand just how unique that is. Also, you could feel how deep the peer-to-peer relationships run in this choir and their passion for excellence. They are learning to dig deep and get it right, to honor their peers, honor their parents, and honor their leader.  That is why they call it "honors choirs" isn't it?

Dr. Kvam has invested in several of his students this year in a way I find quite unique. He didn't just appoint section leaders from some of his most experienced singers. He went above and beyond to select and train two student directors.

For the Artistic Director, this is risky. What if they don't understand the music, what if the singers won't follow them, and what if something goes wrong during the performance?  Dr. Kvam spent countless hours teaching, encouraging and supporting these two students so none of these fears could possibly happen. This is the foundation of leadership. Taking a risk and making an investment so that future leaders can be trained. Our senior Jenna was one of the recipients of this investment. I would like to express our THANKS to Dr. Kvam for his excellence in leadership.

The End of a Decade of Learning the Beginning of a Lifetime of Music

I think it is every parent's dream for their children is to be more blessed with talents than they were.

As parents how do we know what our children's gifts and talents might be? We love them. We dream for them. We pray for them. We guide them. We support them.

Musically, for my children to exceed "dear old dad's" capabilities wouldn't be much of a stretch. I love to listen to our children's music, but Lisa is the musical "driving force" in our family. Our children playing piano, trombone, flute, baritone, music lessons, and later voice lessons were all in Lisa's department.

Our senior Jenna was recognized for 10 years in Honors Choirs. When we got home Sunday night Jenna thanked Lisa and I for taking her to all the practices and supporting her involvement. Dad got a very cool hug!

Yes, it takes time, commitment and financial support to have a singer in the Honors Choirs.  From the long view, when you see the end result, like this year of exceptional concerts, it seems like a very good investment to me.

For Jenna this is the end of a decade of learning, of hard work, of excellence in instruction, but it is the beginning of a lifetime of music.

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