OK, what do I mean by talking about a baby on the Master Chorale blog site? Well, first, I got your attention didn't I? That is the most important part of any written communication…get the attention of the reader! Second, the comment about having a baby directly relates to the topic I really want to talk about. Do I still have your attention? Then let us begin.
Every year, The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay hosts the annual Christmas Carol Composition Competition, where composers are invited to offer a new Christmas choral work. The work must be “an original unpublished composition with no prior public performances”. This fits perfectly with the Master Chorale’s mission: “The Master Chorale is committed to advancing the art of choral music by performing great works of the past, commissioning and performing new literature and sharing the joy and power of choral music with new and existing audiences and singers.” What it means for us as singers is that we get to perform at least one newly commissioned work every year, and get to participate in a world premiere performance. The Christmas Carol Composition Contest winner is premiered during the Holiday Pops concert series with the Florida Orchestra. This year, the Master Chorale will premiere “The Christmas Rose” composed by Ms. Dale Trumbore.
Being part of premiering a new composition is similar to what happens when a couple has a baby, where an entirely new creation comes into the world. A totally unique individual arrives following months of anticipation and brings unbounded joy and celebration. When we first receive a newly commissioned work, we are part of a gestation period that first began as the composition is created in the composer’s head, committed to paper and refined to ensure the right musical structure is conceived and built. Once the composition is finalized, the Master Chorale receives it and we begin the process of converting the music on the pages into a memorable combination of melody and harmony, phrasing, articulation and dynamics for our audiences to hear and enjoy.
The next part of the gestation process occurs as we rehearse the piece and prepare it for performance. Over several weeks of rehearsals we refine the music to present what the composer intended when he or she composed the music. The collaborative process continues as our Artistic Director Dr. Bass guides us in interpreting the wishes of the composer. Since commissions are new works, the composer and Dr. Bass may have several conversations about how to best present the music in its final form.
With every new commission, we invite the composer to be present at our first performance. Sometimes the composer may arrive early enough to hear us rehearsing the piece. This encounter between the composer and the Chorale may be the first time the composer has heard the music put to voice. The results are dramatic and emotional. On the several occasions that I have had to pleasure to witness, the composer is often moved to tears or overcome with joy, much as new parents may be when they see their new baby for the first time.
Once the rehearsal cycle is complete, we move on to performance week, when we introduce the music to the audience for the first time. Here the audience gets to participate in this new birth as they share the honor of being part of a world premiere event, witnessing the beauty of a composition that tells the Christmas story in a new way. As a singer, participating in premiering a new composition is one of the most gratifying aspects of being a part of the Master Chorale. The Christmas Carol Composition Competition is especially significant to me because the birth of a new choral work occurs during the season where Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child. To the universe of beautiful Christmas carols, we have added one more. What a joy it is to be a part of this!
The Florida Orchestra’s “Home for the Holidays” concerts on December 12th-14th will be the place of celebration as we introduce “The Christmas Rose” for the first time ever. Please plan on being at this blessed event.