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Missa Solemnis and the State of the Arts, Day 104

June 23, 2010

Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center

Rehearsing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis almost every day for more than a week has prompted much earlier wake-up alarms, reunions with colleagues and friends, sparks of new friendship, an intense appreciation for this wild and unusual composition, and many contemplations about life as an artist and the state of our art. In anticipation of tonight’s performance and the following three consecutive evenings, the choir and soloists mostly reserved our vocal energy during the open dress rehearsal this morning. This music seems never to stop, and Beethoven exacts impressively relentless demands especially on the chorus and orchestra. Still, I immensely look forward to our performances tonight through Saturday (Friday night at NJPAC), when we all connect with each other and the music to hopefully awaken afresh this work of art.

The gloriously musical and moving soprano Christine Brewer and the brilliant concert master  Glenn Dicterow have already melted my heart in rehearsal with their gorgeous tones and masterful solos.  Eric Owens, bass, and Jane Henshel, mezzo soprano have some gorgeous moments in the Agnus Dei section that you simply have to hear for yourselves.  At the end of a long first season, Alan Gilbert has rehearsed us with clear and intelligent vision and baton throughout and conducts the Missa Solemnis superbly well.  With the excellent New York Choral Artists under the preparation of Joseph Flummerfelt (I confess my major bias here) the skillful New York Philharmonic, and four splendid soloists, I really do believe you will miss something extraordinary if you decide not to attend one of the concerts between tonight and Saturday.

Alan Gilbert: A Maestro for New York Short Film

After rehearsal today, I had the extreme pleasure of discussing our careers and the state of the arts in our current economy over cappuccino at Bomboloni with friend and conductor Eugene Sirotkine.  We both know colleagues and organizations extremely suffering from an understandably increasing lack of financial support for the arts, and many institutions have failed.  Despite changes in any of our careers and financial states, I will sing a great masterwork for the second time today in front of an audience at a world-renowned hall with  arguably some of the most talented musicians on the planet.  Eugene’s choir and orchestra came together just last month to present two modern masterpieces and continue to create excellent music throughout the year thanks to his diligence and the generosity of their supporters and singers.

In the end, as global warming clearly creeps in, our gulf fills with oil, and our pockets feel lighter each day, I still have an apartment, a family, some food in my pantry, somewhat functional health insurance despite the bills currently on my table, friends who love me, and a job – today.  That job gives me the opportunity to come together with friends and strangers to celebrate and recreate the artistic and spiritual contribution of a man who died one hundred eighty-three years ago.  Regardless of tomorrow or yesterday, the state of my art today is alive and well.  I hope you can come and experience it for yourself.

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