This fall session is all about the new music. Part of my summer activities included sorting and squaring away my papers from the last 15 years of the chorus. Don’t worry, I didn’t toss much. I did realize, though, that we have been singing some of the same songs for a very long time. Nothing wrong with that, of course. There’s something great about having go-to music that sustains you over time. But, new music is a challenge, and that sparks new interest, new motivation, new pathways in the brain.
It’s a lot of work. For me putting parts together and for the chorus learning everything. I’m telling you, we’re practically sweating in the rehearsals lately – it’s like going for a good, long, run, ha! My favorite thing we’re working on is a version of the song “On Children”, lyrics by Kahlil Gibran, music by Ysaye Barnwell for the fabulous African American women’s ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. Teasing out the parts has been very challenging for me, and for the first time the chorus is singing in five parts. It’s a rush!
I always begin with big plans for the year, then see what we can actually make happen. For me it’s a little tense as I try to negotiate my vision with reality. But it’s a creative tension that is part of what makes this experience so great for me.
Our big news of the year is our participation in the College of St. Scholastica’s African Music Festival on February 20, 2016. Thanks to Jeremy Craycraft for inviting us. The best part of this is that we’ll get to work with my dear friend and mentor Sowah Mensah once again. Sowah is originally from Ghana and teaches traditional West African music at Macalester College and to K-12 teachers, and students, all over the world. His Macalester African Music Ensemble is an amazing musical experience. Hear some samples of their music. This festival will also include my friends Nancy MacGibbon and her students from Two Harbors High School and Darin Bergsven and his students from Harbor City International School. All of that plus, the CSS percussion ensemble. Mark your calendars now.
To help you get into the mood of our new music, here’s Sweet Honey in the Rock.