MidCities Chamber Singers Concert April 29

DJ_Logo (RD)For the last 9 months, I have been blessed to found and lead a wonderful new semi-professional choral ensemble in the heart of DFW, the MidCities Chamber Singers. What a ride this has been for me, personally, to start an ensemble, go through all the necessary paperwork to create a new 501(c)3 organization, recruit singers, promote and market the group, plan artistic and musical activities, all while doing my full-time role at Riverside and working on my PhD. Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment. But it has been so incredibly rewarding. (If you would like to see some clips of our year, you can subscribe to our YouTube Channel)

We Sing of Peace promoA week from this coming Saturday, we will have our Season Finale Concert, entitled “We Sing of Peace.” When I chose this theme several months ago, who could have possibly guessed it would come on the heels of the tragedy in Syria and what seem to be indications of global conflict in Afghanistan, China, and in the Korean Peninsula. While I wouldn’t wish for these conflicts in any way, we have an opportunity to sing into this incredible tumult with incredible music of peace, shalom, the brotherhood of humankind, and love.

DickinsonWe will premiere a brand new piece by our composer-in-residence, Christopher Teichler, of an Emily Dickinson poem, “If I Could Stop One Heart from Breaking.” Her poem reads,

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.” (Source)

If our music can do just what this poem speaks of, then our work as an ensemble will continue to have a purpose. And this noble purpose, to speak with music into the troubled, peaceless, hurting corners of our world with a language that transcends the barriers that separate us needlessly, is at the heart of what this ensemble is all about.

Among other pieces by Aaron Copland, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Morten Lauridsen, Durufle, Palestrina, and many others, we will sing the incredible poem found inscribed on the wall of a Cologne, Germany Nazi Concentration camp, and beautifully set by Randall Stroope, Inscription of Hope.

“I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
And I believe in love,
even when there’s no one there.
And I believe in God,
even when he is silent.

I believe through any trial,
there is always a way
But sometimes in this suffering
and hopeless despair
My heart cries for shelter,
to know someone’s there
But a voice rises within me, saying hold on
my child, I’ll give you strength,
I’ll give you hope. Just stay a little while.

I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
And I believe in love
even when there’s no one there
But I believe in God
even when he is silent
I believe through any trial
there is always a way.

May there someday be sunshine
May there someday be happiness
May there someday be love
May there someday be peace….”

Join us and walk away truly moved and blessed by this wonderful evening of beautiful singing.

Vivaldi Gloria @ GACS

Here’s a link to our recent performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria.  This is our GACS Choir, Orchestra, String Faculty, Guest Artists and our guest choir from Hoffman Estates HS outside of Chicago.  This is the first half of that performance.  I couldn’t be more proud our our collaboration, our hard work, and the significant musical moment that this is in GACS’ musical history.  

There Has to Be A Song

As I said in yesterday’s post, music is everywhere around me.  In some sense, my life has its own soundtrack, constantly playing in the background of my imagination. There’s ALWAYS a song there.  Singing is everywhere in my life…and it’s everywhere around us.  I shudder to think about what my life and what the world would be like without music.  With that thought in mind, Robert Benson (the same Benson of the famed Brentwood-Benson music company) and composer Andrea Ramsey collaborated on a very popular and powerful setting of Benson’s text “There Has to Be A Song…”  One of my choirs is singing this for our upcoming spring concert…and it’s powerful and true for what I believe about the power of song.  Is there a time when music has served a powerful role in your life?  Leave a comment…I’d love to hear when, where and what made that music so powerful for you.

There Has to Be A Song (Robert Benson & Andrea Ramsey)

There are too many dark nights
Too many trouble some days.
Too many wearisome miles.
There has to be, there has to be a song

There has to be a song to make you burdens bearable
There has to be a song to make our hopes believable
To transform our triumphs into praise There has to be, there has to be a song.

Somewhere, Somewhere down deep in a forgotten corner of each man’s heart
To release the chains of past defeats
There has to be, there has to be a song.

Like a cool clear drink of water
Like the gentle warmth of sunshine
Like the tender love of a child
There has to be, there has to be a song.

Look & sing like you believe it…

Singing is (more or less), my life…either in the choir, listening to the choir, conducting or rehearsing the choir; or maybe is singing in church, or leading the singing in church…in some form or fashion, my life is full of singing.  We sing at many occasions; sad ones, happy ones, celebratory ones, educational ones…singing is there.  (Tomorrow, I’ll post one of my favorite poems about song…)  But why do we sing?  Well, for one reason, it gives voice to what we believe…or at least it should.

I heard a quote a number of years ago while working in a conducting workshop.  The quote was from the great American Choral Conductor, Roger Wagner.  He said “Look and sound like you believe what you sing…”  He goes on to talk about the importance of language, diction, energy, facial communication, and how if you don’t look and sound like you believe what you sing, no one will want to watch or let alone, sing with you.

While he’s very much speaking of music in the realm of performance, I think there is absolutely something to be gained here for those of us abide in the realm of congregational worship as well.  Specifically for us in Churches of Christ…Whether you find yourself a leader in a church who uses a solo worship or song leader or in a church that uses a praise/worship team (Stealth or stage variety), we have a responsibility to draw the congregation into participation.  This comes directly from our energy, our face, our demeanor, and conveying that we wholeheartedly believe the words we’re asking people to sing with us.  Do you lead and sing in such a way that conveys that you believe the words you’re singing and asking others to sing with you?