Last night, The Choir gathered for our annual Year-End Dinner at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity. We enjoyed a delicious meal, wonderful fellowship, and inspired words from our leaders. A little more than a week before, we also finished the 104th Annual Bethlehem Bach Festival, as well as our second recording of the year. It was an ambitious, exhausting, joyous and rewarding season, and I’m already feeling the pangs of withdrawal. Speaking to many of my colleagues in The Choir, I suspect this feeling is rather widespread. We’re off for the month of June, and then we’ll begin a series of rehearsals for a performance in September about which I’ll be writing more, soon. I’m also going to take a hiatus for the rest of the month from the blog, but will definitely be back beginning in July. Plans for next year’s season are materializing, and it should be wonderful. Already announced is our artist for the 2011 Gala: the spectacular violinist Hilary Hahn. More details will be forthcoming.
Marc Minkowski’s excellent recording of the B Minor Mass has, for its cover, an old black and white photograph of visitors climbing a long, outdoor set of stairs. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but I love the image for the many things it says about approaching Bach’s music. In the photograph, we don’t see the top, nor do we see the bottom. There are four individuals; two are climbing, two are resting about halfway up. A season in the life an organization with our history is like that set of stairs: much has been accomplished, and we continue to climb, reaching new heights of artistry and musical growth. This season, now in hindsight, was definitely one of the most challenging and rewarding in my ten years in The Choir. We seem to have definitely reached a new altitude. There is also a sense of pilgrimage, of visiting holy ground in returning to the Mass, the St. John Passion, and to movements of the Christmas Oratorio, as well as a remarkable sense of discovery as we encountered the brilliant music of Hindemith, Britten, Bernstein, and Paulus. As a singer, there’s a palpable sense of delight in the music we’ve encountered in this journey, and as a member of the greater Bach Choir Family, there’s an equally palpable sense of joy in sharing this journey with so many wonderful people. By no means have we reached the top of those metaphorical stairs, but the view from here is fantastic.
With this post, I’ll be completing my writing about this past season (I believe this will be post number 45). It’s been a delight to share thoughts and observations about the work of The Choir, our staff and leadership – many thanks to all who visited the blog (we’re well on our way to 3,000 hits), and especially to those who commented. We’ll ping our Facebook associates with brief updates throughout the sumer, and I’ll be back in July for a blog tour of the Bachhaus, our fantastic new headquarters, a few doors up on Heckewelder Place, some profiles of our wonderful staff, and some thoughts about the new season as plans are finalized. In the meantime, all the best for a delight-filled June, and a wonderful start to your summer!