Message from the Director

When I close my eyes up on the conductor’s podium, I hear the same rich, expressive sound that the Chorus has always produced.  But a conductor can sense subtle shifts from year to year in the character of the group — in their approach to new music, their humor, their rehearsal priorities, their sensitivity to each other’s sound, and so on.  When I ask myself what characterizes this year’s Cornell Chorus, the word that immediately comes to mind is confidence.  I felt it right away in August, when the returning members convened to rehearse for the Orientation Week concert — they adjusted to the new balance so quickly and gave a dazzling performance after only 24 hours back.  I felt that confidence again at our first rehearsal with our new members, listening to the choir very capably read (on sight) John Sheppard’s marvelous motet Libera Nos, Salva Nos in six constantly interweaving parts.  Most of all, I felt it during our discussions on retreat:  in that room, fifty women with a clear, confident sense of their own abilities — and an accurate perception of the group’s strengths — talked and laughed together, calmly discussing what the Chorus does best, how they can push themselves, and what goals they should set for the future.

Seeing that kind of self-assurance, I was delighted to introduce the 2015-2016 Chorus to the public even sooner than usual!  First, we were honored to sing for the inauguration of Elizabeth Garrett, at her personal request.  It seemed beautifully apt, as the audience watched Cornell’s first woman president ascend the stage, to hear the voices of the Chorus ringing joyfully across the Arts Quad:  “I’m climbing up to the high land, gonna make that mountain mine!”  We are all curious and excited to see where President Garrett takes Cornell next, and are humbly pleased that she has already become a fan of the Chorus.

Only a day later, the Chorus took part in the annual Homecoming Concert (for the first time ever, as I understand), singing the top line of Josquin’s monumental Preter Rerum from the balcony in Bailey Hall while their brothers in the Glee Club sang the lower polyphonic parts on the stage.  It was truly magical — every entrance was electrifying, and I can’t tell you how many audience members raved about the surround-sound effect after the performance. Those of you who were able to join us for the Twilight Concert on October 31st heard a similar effect on a separate piece, with the Chorus singing from the Bailey Hall stage while the Glee Club provided a cantus firmus line from the balcony.

The confidence that radiates from this set of women is something that transcends our music — for me, it is just as inspiring as the repertoire itself.  As we open a new semester, with a joint international tour, I find myself grateful every day for the opportunity to work with them and explore the possibilities.  Thank you, alumnae, for the Chorus you built and nurtured;  I hope you all get a chance to hear the current group soon!