In times of uncertainty and unrest in the world—with so much pain and suffering shading the experience of many—I consider myself most fortunate to be able to redirect valuable time, energy, and resources towards something so seemingly selfish as the high arts of choral music. Regardless of state or context, I believe that music has the ability to help us see beyond our circumstance, to transform our viewpoint, our very being, our actions. Choral music is particularly able to accomplish this because it is the empathy with the ultimately human instrument—the human voice— that connects deeply to our humanity. The endless possibilities of color, tone, text declamation and proclamation, articulation, etc. all have profound impact on both singers and audience alike. Put this instrument and art together with an amazing composer, and it is hard to find anything more emotionally transforming and healing.
As German philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand states, beauty “opens our hearts, inviting us to transcendence and leading us conspectum Dei—before the face of God.” I am motivated and inspired by this aesthetic. As choral performers, we provide antidotes to the uncertainty and unrest in our world, bringing not only temporary illusions of peace and harmony or momentary pleasurable musical experiences, but also the profound opportunity for introspection, contemplation, and building of character. While I will always perform music that is equally satisfying intellectually and emotionally, I know that music has the ability to transform us, as conductors, singers, and audience members. It is that transformation that motivates me beyond my geeky love for choral music.
As a person who has lived in Spain, Venezuela, and many places throughout the United States, I consider myself very open to any and all forms of spirituality—or lack thereof. I resonate deeply with the universal spirituality of modern composer Arvo Pärt who stated in an interview that people do not understand “how strong the music influences us for the good or for bad. You can kill people with sound. And if you can kill, maybe there is also sound that is opposite of killing. And the distance between the two points is very big. And you are free—you can choose.”
I choose to elevate humanity by the balance of well-constructed choral music—past, present, and future—that causes introspection, laughter, empathy, harmony, contemplation, and transformation of character. I seek to enter that process in programming repertoire, in rehearsal with my singers, and in the process of performing for the audience. Voice to voice, we devote countless hours to the art of choral music because it is worthy of such commitment. In times of uncertainty and pain, the world needs the best the choral art can offer!