Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I am glad to be writing you from the comfort of Study Hall back here in America, whereas only two weeks ago, I was on a concert tour in Austria with the Dana Hall Chamber Singers. We had a very successful tour which was made even better by the fact that I celebrated my 40th birthday while visiting the town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Why is Mozart my favorite composer? Well, if you are familiar with him or any of his music, you'll know that's a silly question because Mozart is probably the most beloved composer in the history of the world, so the fact that he's my favorite is not a big deal. However, music aside, I think that Mozart is such an astonishing figure because he represents something that we all either admire or are intrigued by - miracles.
Do miracles happen? Is the fact that Mozart was the genius of geniuses - seemingly born with a God-given ability to understand, perform, and produce music before he had even begun learning to read - nothing more than a scientific anomaly? Perhaps, but regardless where your faith lies, IT'S PRETTY INCREDIBLE EITHER WAY. And that's why we love to just be around his world - whether lost in the melodies of one of his operas, or standing in the streets where he walked and lived. We love to be around greatness.
As do I. The Chamber Singers and I were blessed to stand in the presence of greatness for one week.
We . . .
- visited palaces of Emperors (the palaces were great, not the men calling themselves emperors!)
- walked the streets of Salzburg and Vienna
- stood in the room where Mozart was born
- visited the birthplace of Schubert
- stood in the room where Mahler composed his 3rd Symphony
- sang in the Marble Hall of St. Florian monastery (musical home and final resting place of Bruckner)
- sang in the Haydnsaal - the concert hall of Franz Joseph Haydn at the Esterhazy Palace
- sang a concert with the Eisenstadt School Chorus (they sang Michael Jackson and gospel music for us, and we sang Mozart's Requiem for them!)
We also both grew closer as an ensemble, and my family was there for the trip as well. What more could I ask for to celebrate life? My students, my family, my favorite composer, my music? Yes, we sang a couple of Funkyman originals - "The Call" and "Same Ol' Blues." But the real big hit was the one gospel song we did - "You Blessed Me" by John P. Kee.
Our program included everything from Franck, Mozart, and Schubert to West Side Story, Spring Awakening, and Dreamgirls to Billy Joel, Eurythmics, and Josh Groban to Gershwin, Coleman, and gospel. The audiences loved everything we sang, but they couldn't wait to get out of their seats and have an excuse to clap their hands and move! One audience made us sing it twice! We were happy to oblige.
Thank you to the parents of my students and for our donors for making this possible. Thank you to the Austrian people for showing us amazing hospitality. Thank you to Daniel Ross, our tour guide ("Wakey, wakey" and "Double Vow Wow" to you!). Thank you to Claudia, our concert organizer. Thank you to Encore tours of ACIS . . .
I've used other touring companies before, but this was by far the most organized and well-supported tour I've ever experienced. Having both a tour guide as well as a concert organizer ensuring all of our needs were met was something I hadn't seen before, and it made a huge difference. All 17 of my students had the time of their lives. They represented their country, their school, their families, themselves, and me so well. I am very proud. They embodied the essence of my teaching philosophy - to be excellent, you must have fun. To have fun, you must be excellent. They worked hard, and reaped the benefits of their labor.
The Chamber Singers also represented well the reason we were there - music. Through this common language, people from across the globe came together to share, learn, and love one another. We grew close to all of our audiences, and hopefully they left better than they came. I know we did. That is more than inspiration. That's elevation.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a miracle.
Submitted for your approval,
P.S. - Here are two videos of us singing in the Marble Hall at St. Florian's Monastery in Linz, Austria (4-second reverb!) and the Pfarrkirche Church in Salzburg, Austria.