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Stick Time: Trends & Choral Programming

One has always been mystified by trends.  Or more appropriately by how quickly something can move from “The Big Thing” to “Snore.”  Without question, the media are the high priests that preside over the worship service at the Church of the Flavor of the Moment (with a healthy dose of obscene corporate greed tossed in for good measure).  NEWER! BIGGER! FASTER! LOUDER!  It’s all so terribly ephemeral, and meaningless.
 
As conductors, we are not entirely immune to swings in popularity, even in our own art.  Attend enough conferences, and you will start to see the trends.  Certain composers become almost required programming, then their music suddenly disappears from the stage.
 
Among the many works to ride the fickle wave of choral trends was Vaclav Nelhybel’s Estampie natalis.  Composed in the late 70s, it appears to have been almost de rigueur for those conductors on the conference and honor choir circuit.  Then it seems to have vanished from the national scene (though we suspect it was still being performed frequently on local programs).  Yet here it is being performed again at an ACDA national conference – this time in the early 21st century – and it feels fresh and interesting.
 
How much do trends affect YOUR choral programming?