Britten, Owen and Friends

As lucky as I feel to get to study and perform masterpieces by Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Berlioz, I feel doubly blessed by the wonderfully talented singers who choose to spend their time singing these amazing works of art.

So you will understand why, early last Saturday morning, despite the 6 hours of rehearsal awaiting us, I was in such a great mood. My great musical friends–members of the Symphonic Choir, Butler Chorale and Indy Men’s Chorus–were with me for a rehearsal retreat; six hours of Britten’s WAR REQUIEM just 3 weeks prior to our upcoming performance, May 3, at the Palladium.

Britten’s writing is nothing if not challenging. Copious chromaticism abounds, rhythmic challenges, dissonant intervals, ravishing beauty. Despite the intensity of the effort required, however, the mood in the rehearsal space was eager, focused, and happy. In fact, the farther we delved into the work, the quicker the chorus seemed to figure out what Britten had left us. Faster and smarter, the group made amazing strides in our time together. Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel have nothing on us!

Singing Britten’s War Requiem is far more than just giving a concert; it’s a journey, an odyssey, a mountaintop requiring our talent, intellect and spirit. Britten’s music, Owen’s poems and the liturgical prayers for the dead combine to form a tribute that lifts us all. I’m grateful to be a part of this amazing group of hundreds of talented, dedicated folks as we learn and grow together.

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