79th Season Thus Far

From time to time, we welcome guest bloggers to the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir blog. Different perspectives, unique thoughts…they make for an interesting read, no doubt. This blog post is brought to you by Dr. Janet Hock, an alto who is in her second season with the Symphonic Choir.

Orpheus, looking back to check on his beloved Eurydice as they leave Hades to regain their lives on earth, lost her to the underworld, and spent the rest of his life mourning her in song. Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis was like that – how many of us who sang it are unable to forget the first note of the “Kyrie,” the audacious end of the “Gloria;” or the agonies, arguments, affirmations and boldness of the “Credo;” or the beautiful, soft repeats of “Pacem” as we sang the very last notes? The sheer excitement and sense of accomplishment in singing and sensing this challenging music intensely colored this season.Sylvia McNair and Symphonic Choir

It took great fortitude to segue from the Beethoven’s finest to the holiday magic of Festival of Carols; the shock of singing in mixed formation certainly helping the transition! What fun, and for 4 sold-out performances! The black holes of the Scottish Rite Cathedral; fumbling with the candles and the steps; Eric’s mischievous look as he handed the baton to Conducting Fellow Ali Darley; Eric's mother, Sherry Stark, making each telling of an old story as fresh as the first time. At Carmel’s Palladium, memories of Sylvia McNair’s gorgeous voice in surround sound; the gorgeousness of Bruckner’s “Ave Maria;” the beauty of Morten Lauridsen’s “O magnum mysterium” and the exquisite agony of singing it so slowly; the unique “Sir Christemas” which came to life with the orchestra; the just plain fun of this program was a great way to end 2015.

Of course, there was our perennial Messiah. What is it about Handel’s music that keeps audiences and singers coming back year after year, to enjoy it yet again as a favorite performance? Why do the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir singers lick their chops in anticipation of floating through the “Hallelujah” chorus, and taking “For unto us…” at the speed of light?

Onstage rehearsal Holst PlanetsAfter all this Christmas music, it was time for the astrologic melodies of Gustav Holst, as the women of the Choir sang the final bars of “Neptune.” The astral swirling sounds of Holst’s music in a rainbow of overtones, undertones and melodies emerged, first from a dark echoing cave behind the second mezzanine of the Hilbert Circle Theatre, and then from a spare room cluttered with stage scenery behind the stage at Avon High School. A collection of 45 or so voices became a powerfully integrated ensemble, voicing the mighty planetary winds of Neptune, with sopranos letting loose on a spinning spacious high G, augmented by the altos a few bars later. The galactic winds stalled with the orchestra for a few bars, before the celestial 8-part harmonies began as gentle breezes, gusting at times as choir 1 and choir 2 chased and overlaid each other’s phrases, before spinning off into space, as the last repeated bar of polyphony faded into our fingers, our arms and the charmed audience.

– – – Dr. Janet Hock, Alto, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir