Gaudete! I chose to title my latest post with the Latin word which means rejoice. We are well into the Christmas Season, a time of giving, celebration and rejoicing, and it seemed fitting to use this word to set the stage for my latest post.
The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay just completed performing four “Home for the Holidays” concerts with the Florida Orchestra. These four concerts played to sold-out houses at every performance, meaning that we reached out to over 7,000 audience members during the concert series. From a personal perspective, knowing that we were performing to sold-out houses was a cause for rejoicing among the Chorale membership, and I am sure the Florida Orchestra members felt the same way. There are few things more energizing than knowing you are performing to a packed house. It sets the stage for enthusiasm before we walk out onto the risers. Gaudete!
I was listening to an interview with Los Angeles Philharmonic Director Gustavo Dudamel the other day as he discussed how he approaches his role as Director. He mentioned that music creates a connection among people. In a time when more and more people use technology to communicate, Maestro Dudamel noted that communication sometimes suffers and does not allow people to really connect, but music creates connections. Furthermore, he noted that the love of music is a universal human trait that transcends cultures and language. In the final analysis, we do not just connect with an audience; our music connects us to individuals sitting in an audience.
This was brought home to me on Sunday, the last day of our concert series. Like many other Master Chorale singers, I also sing in my church choir at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Valrico. As part of the Advent calendar, Sunday was known as “Gaudete Sunday”, a time for rejoicing. As I was headed to my choir warm up, my Music Director told me he attended the Friday evening concert and it was wonderful. Inside, I rejoiced with gratitude that he attended and really enjoyed the experience. Gaudete!
Later that day, my wife and I attended a Christmas Cantata at Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon. The first church choir I joined twenty five years ago was at Nativity and several members are still singing there. It was a time of rejoicing to reconnect with them following their cantata. At least ten of them attended the matinee concert at Mahaffey Theater on Saturday. Every one of them remarked to me how much they enjoyed the concert and how wonderful the performance was. It was obvious to me by their enthusiasm that we really connected with them and made the Holiday Season more meaningful. Gaudete!
On Sunday evening, we had our final “Home for the Holidays’ concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall. As we entered the stage and took our places on the risers, we all looked out upon the sea of faces, over 2000 in attendance. Maestro Jeff Tyzik invited the audience to sing along during the encore, and I could hear the hall fill with sound as they enthusiastically joined in. The connection had been made once more. My wife and one of our good friends came to the concert that evening, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. As I came out to the lobby to meet them, I encountered several people who remarked to me how wonderful the concert was.
I am filled with gratitude that I am able to share music that helps make the Holiday Season more meaningful for so many people. With our music, we are able to create a memorable experience that I hope will stay with them for many years to come. Being able to make that connection is a cause for rejoicing. Gaudete!