Message From The Director

2012-2013 Interim Director John Rowehl

In Hawai`i -- a place that, as many of you know, is dear to me -- the word 'aloha' is used for both greetings and partings. But it also means 'love'. I've often thought about how nice it would be if every time we uttered the words 'hello' and 'goodbye', we were also understood to be saying, "I love you."

The time has come for me to part ways with the Glee Club and Chorus. The moment brings with it a mix of powerful feelings, of course -- but first among them is love. I would not have predicted this back in 2002, when Scott Tucker asked me to serve as Assistant Conductor of the Glee Club during his sabbatical. Indeed, I wouldn't have predicted that I'd even be in this position now. I'd always thought of the Glee Club as a somewhat boorish fraternity that just happened to sing, and so I wasn't expecting to enjoy myself that much. To be honest, I took the gig mostly because I needed the money.

Now, eleven years later (seven of which I've also been with the Chorus), I know better. I've seen a half generation of young men and women come and go, and then come back again (eventually with husbands and wives and children in tow). I've experienced first-hand the "something bigger" that people always say their membership in these groups puts them in touch with. Indeed, observing the way in which the Glee Club and Chorus create a deep and enduring sense of community is what led me to my dissertation project. And what I've learned in my work is that it's no accident that communal ties are so strong among people who sing together. All the evidence suggests that human beings are hard-wired to make music together precisely because the cooperation and mutual attunement that the activity both requires and develops conferred adaptive fitness on our earliest ancestors. 

My heart has always known that music can make for profound and magical experiences, but for a long time my head told me that music isn't relevant to the "real world" and all its problems. Working with the Glee Club and Chorus gave me the opportunity to go with my heart, and my head finally caught up.  I now believe that it's the people who know how to make music together who can save the world (being part-hippie, I'm okay with how idealistic that sounds).

So, the gig that I took for purely mercenary reasons turns out to have been more important to my life than I could have known. And for that, I will be forever grateful to the Glee Club and Chorus,  my family in song, and to all of you who nourish these organizations with your support. It's been an honor and a privilege to be with you all.