Finding a Word in the Still, Small Voice
Date: March 15, 2011
On the morning after the conclusion of our 2011 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association, I went to the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago to reflect, as well as decompress. The night before, I had completed the Conference by hearing Helmuth Rilling, the recently announced winner of the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize, conduct the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra in Mendelssohn's Elijah, or Elias, as it was performed for us in German in Chicago.
In my strolling through the Art Institute of Chicago, after running into ACDA President Jerry McCoy, and composer Bob Chilcott, both separately doing the same thing I was doing, I finally settled in at Marc Chagall's America Windows to do my reflection. The passage from Elijah that stayed with me from the night before was from movement 34, "after the fire…a still small voice." I had experienced the earthquake, wind, and fire of the visual and musical throughout the week, and now, I sought that "still small voice" that had come after Elijah's experience on Mt. Horeb. I found it in Chagall's stained glass windows.
At the end of World War II, Chagall turned to stained glass to explore the intensity of color as it could be expressed on a monumental scale. He created his America Windows for the city of Chicago, where in six panels he pays tribute to Music, Painting, Literature, Architecture, Theater, and Dance.
The "still small voice" I received was given to me through those windows. In our National Conference of ACDA we experience what Chagall desired by turning to stained glass--intensity on a monumental scale. In our case, it is the intensity of choral music on a monumental scale. We will do this again next year at this time in seven division conferences, and again in two years in Dallas, TX, March 13-16 (2013). Until then, look to www.acda.org for much of the rich content we experienced last week, as we find ongoing ways to share this material.