The Choral Journal archives dates back to May 1959 and contains many wonderful articles, some of which, yes, are out of date; but there are others that still hold importance for choral conductors in the twenty-first century.
In 1974-1976, Carole Glenn published a fascinating series of interviews with seventeen choral conductors on various questions of concern to choral musicians. Over the next couple of weeks, this weekly ChoralNet blog will highlight several of these installments and share some of the answers given. Following is a list of the conductors who were interviewed:
Elaine Brown, Harold Decker, Robert Fountain, Jane Hardester, Iva Dee Hiatt, Robert Holliday, Joseph Huszti, Kenneth Jennings, Allen Lannom, Daniel Moe, Weston Noble, Paul Salamunovich, Leland Sateren, Howard Swan, Roger Wagner, Dale Warland, and Lois Wells.
Installment 5 deals with choral philosophy and procedures and was published in the Choral Journal in March 1975.
The changes in choral music during the past twenty years have been so far-reaching that it would be difficult for any one person to evaluate the total choral picture. It is hoped that a composite can be made from the observations of several conductors. What are the major causes for change? Have the directors had similar experiences? Are any particular conductors instrumental in the events that have taken place? What has been the effect of the changes in terms of choral literature, performance practices, organization of groups, preparation of singers, and audience reaction? The following question was asked: What changes in choral philosophy and procedures have you noticed in the past twenty years?
Margaret Hillis – Chicago Symphony Chorus, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
The term “choral philosophy” is one with which I have taken issue ever since I got into the “choral field.” It seems to me that the only philosophy proper to honest work is a musical commitment. The chorus is only one of many musical instruments, and too often its “techniques” are mistaken for its essence. Its techniques are to the chorus what building a piano and tuning it are to the pianist. Its essence must be the music itself.
Joseph Husztl – Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
I feel that there is an almost universal awareness of fine choral techniques. There are so many fine choirs that sing well and that sing fine literature. There is a greater stylistic awareness in music. For example, more and more conductors are using instrumental doublings for their Renaissance and Baroque “Selections. I’m anxiously awaiting the next ten years, however, because I think the day of the choir standing on risers in front of a passive audience is past. If we expect to make any vital contribution as choral people, it’s not going to be by singing better in tune, but by singing more stylistically and communicating more vitally.
ACDA members can read this issue of the Choral Journal online by clicking here (http://acda.org/ccj.asp?ID=1565). Non members can review the benefits and membership categories here. (There is an associate membership option for only $45 a year!)