This week’s clip comes from the remarkable public media system in the USA – a Minnesota Public Radio based website called YourClassical.org, and a little corner of that called Choral Stream, which funnels mainly American content into a very diverse playlist and archive of choral performances. One of Choral Stream’s most popular videos, this one appeared in a recent New Year’s Eve countdown of the site’s favourites.
In my mind these “Director’s Desk” posts are 1/3 keeping GCS together, 1/3 keeping our love of choral music alive and inspired when we can’t pursue it actively, and 1/3 expanding our minds a bit as we have this pause before we resume our choral journey together, hopefully sometime later this year. I hope you’ll find this clip ticks all three of these boxes.
Enjoy “Ain’t no Grave” by Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory… it is here performed by a choir from Wartburg Lutheran College, Waverly, Iowa. The performance is at Wartburg Castle in Germany during a choral tour commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Note three things:
1) an all-white collegiate youth choir singing an arrangement that combines two distinctly African-American choral genres, spirituals and jazz; this is a theme we’ll return to in February, during ‘Black History Month.’
2) an energetic, memorised and also choreographed and very emotive performance (if you look carefully the numerous front rows of sopranos and altos lead the back rows on these fronts);
3) the use of a signer for the hearing impaired – and for about 20 seconds just before the 3-minute mark an amazing mini-glimpse of how a profoundly deaf person would receive the performance;
4) a conductor who seems remarkably contained considering both the character of the piece and the choristers’ response – this is a particular school of conducting that prides itself on economy of movement and gesture, relying on choristers to supply the energy they must give to the audience.
Stay as safe and happy as you can! If you haven’t been for a while visit the Georgetown Choral Society website, Facebook Page and YouTube Channel – where you can subscribe to stay connected.
‘See’ you next week,