Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It is a day to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the creation of the church!!! But it is also a day to trust the Holy Spirit to work in and through our worship together to bring newness and passion. For those of us who are "thinkers," it is a day to depend on your "feelers." It is a day to sing and dance and to do so, hand in hand with all believers. For the Holy Spirit sees no age or race or gender or social status or ecenomic means or .... It is our day to celebrate what God has called us and enabled us to be and to do. See you in red on Sunday!!!
The weather continues to be unbelievable; and we continue to be impressed with the city of Dallas. I have mentioned Cathedral Guadalupe, so I thought I would include a picture of the outside. We heard a number of fine choirs again today. Highland Park United Methodist Church Chancel Choir (picture below) is the only church choir that was invited to sing a concert session. They were a very good choir; exceptional tenors! But Jenny and I both agreed that they lacked the passion in their singing that we have heard from several of the academic groups. I don't know anything about the church or their worship practices, but it seemed a shame that there was an obvious difference in their sound compared to many others.
Tonight I attended the reception for the Southern Division of ACDA. This is the division to which I belong and in which Chattanooga is included. The night time picture was taken of downtown Dallas from the top floor of the Sheraton Hotel where the reception was held. The is an effort from several prominent choral leaders in Chattanooga to hold the Southern Division ACDA Conference in Chattanooga in 2016. For the conference our sanctuary would be considered one of the main singing venues, especially for all the Church Music events. This would be a great honor for Chattanooga and for our worship space to be selected. I will keep you posted.
Tomorrow we get to hear our final concert sessions, including the Westminster Choir and to attend the Church Music reading session held at the cathedral. Jenny and I also get to have dinner with one of my closest childhood friends and his family who now live in the Dallas area. It will be special day.
It was another gorgeous day in Dallas; they say it may really get hot by the weekend. We heard two more outstanding high school choirs today; they seem to outshine the univeristy groups so far. We heard the Varsity Men's Chorale from Arlington (TX) High School. They were a lot of fun and were very good. For those listening to pop music these days, they sang an arrangement of "Some Nights." The top group of the day was the Indianapolis Youth Chorale (an extension of the Indianapolis Children's Chorus). This is a community youth chorus that rehearses once a week. They were 90 strong and one of the most powerful/moving groups we have heard. They ended their concert with an anthem called "Dance of Exultation" written especially for this group to sing at this conference. It incorporated very rhythmic (and tough) piano accompaniment and majestic organ accompaniment. It was met with a standing ovation. You can see this group in the first picture below.
Instead of an early afternoon concert, today included an ecumenical worship service led by three choirs. It was held in the Cathedral Guadelupe, a Catholic cathedral adjacent to the concert hall. It was a beautiful and resonant room (see pic), with many of other characteristics of our sanctuary. Jenny and I both found it to very moving at times; we were singing in a "congregation" of several hundred choral direcctors. There were a number of pieces that we have sung including our Youth Choir's "Noel" and "Soon Ah Will Be Done".
Our first full day in Dallas was a beautiful one - sunny and 65. I wish you could see the arts district where all the events of the conference are being held. Over an eight block area the city of Dallas (with help from the arts community, private benefactors, two local congregations and the school system) has established an arts district that includes a symphony hall (see picture below), opera house, theatre, city performance hall, renovated high school for art exhibits and small theatrical performances, and two church buildings of active congregations that are also used for community arts events. It has sent my mind spinning as to what the possibilities could be in Chattanooga. The three highlights of the day:
- The Martin High School Chamber Choir from Arlington Texas
- the sound of this group was amazing, the energy and passion with which they sang is what made the performance memorable;
- each member sang with confidence and a sense of independence all the while blending with everyone else; they were having fun too!
- The Crystal Children's Choir from San Fransisco (see the picture below)
- this community children's choir made up of mostly international children sang a number of eastern asian pieces with a pure and beautiful sound
- there total program involves close to 1000 children
- they ended their concert with the beautiful and powerful "Prayer of the Children", it brought tears to our eyes
- The conference performance of Mass of the Children, sung by a festival choir, the Dallas Children's and choir and directed by John Rutter (the composer)
- after our performance in February, it was especially meaningful to just listen this time
- the choir was an auditioned group of over 100 choral directors from around the country
- John Rutter (see pic below) was a delight, but an awkward conductor
- the performance took place in the Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall, a magnificent facility as you can see in the picture, we did get to hear the symphony organ played prior to the Mass perfromance
Although this conference is about music and not the spoken word, I was struck by something Mr. Morton Meyerson (the man for whom the hall is named) said to us prior to the performance. He believes that a choir is "the purest form of community", requiring commitment, hard work and sacrifice from every member, but providing the greatest reward for acheiving something together that one could never acheiving on their own. Sounds like a great model for the church.
My second conference opportunity is the American Choral Directors Association, being held in Dallas. The ACDA is the primary association of professional choral directors from academic, community and church settings. Every 2 years the ACDA holds a national convention and invites the top choirs from around the world. Over the next four days we will have the opportunity to hear amazing music in top performing venues. The conference also provides for discussion roundtables to hear from the directors of these world reknown choirs. An added blessing is that Jenny was able to make the trip with me. Things kick-off in the morning. I can't wait to share it with you. Here are a couple os pics from our arrival into Dallas.