Tag: conductor essay

Crowdsourcing Rehearsals

This is a two-part article about rehearsing a traditional large ensemble: orchestra, band, or choral ensemble. Many of the ideas put forward won’t be necessarily new, which is a good thing. It means that many conductors are experimenting with, even perfecting, a more inclusive, student-driven approach to large ensembles. But having traveled around this country and a few others visiting music programs, I’m still struck by the overwhelming adherence to the top-down, dictatorial method of running a rehearsal.

I’m convinced that the majority of conductors believe that simply because a student is in his/her ensemble playing an instrument, or singing, they are “engaged.” More and more, I’m convinced that this just isn’t the case. We stand on a box, with a stick, telling them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. And yet, I keep hearing from the music advocacy folks that what we do in the music classroom is somehow “different” or “better” than what happens in other classrooms. Well, of course it is—as far as I know, there aren’t any snare drums and saxophones in a chemistry classroom—but we really don’t teach any differently. And lest anyone think that I’ve got this completely figured out, let me assure you, I don’t. In 2013 I published an article in the Music Educators Journal on this topic and I still don’t pretend to have it all figured out. More on that later.

There aren’t any snare drums and saxophones in a chemistry classroom.

Broadly defined, the student I am teaching today in many ways is the same kind of student I taught at the beginning of my career—smart, engaged, overachieving, hard-working, dependable, dedicated, curious, kind…all that good stuff. But, in other ways, the student I’m teaching today is different. It’s mostly because of an addiction to technology but also trends in parenting and schooling—and societal changes, too. So I think it’s important to assess how we teach every once in a while. Trends come and go, I realize (who knew that leg warmers and high-waisted jeans would make a comeback), and there is a LOT of validity in teaching students to sit, listen, and be quiet. But there is also validity in more student engagement, more student involvement in learning and process, and more student ownership and responsibility.

Imagine, if you will, a gentleman plucked up from his late-19th-century life with a time machine plunked down in Times Square New York City in 2018. Absolutely everything would blow his mind—the cars, the lights (NEON!), the noise, the dress, the store offerings, the height and density of the buildings…everything. He would be completely lost. Until, of course, he walked into a classroom. Except for those white boards and maybe a projector/screen, nothing much has changed in that department. Now imagine a trombone player from the Sousa band plucked up with that same time machine and plunked down in your rehearsal room. With the exception of wondering what all that extra percussion equipment was doing in the room, he would know exactly where he was and where to sit. Now, I’m not saying this is all bad. But, it’s something to think about.

A gentleman plucked up from the late-19th-century to 2018 would be completely lost…until he walked into a classroom.

A decade ago, Randall Everett Allsup and Cathy Benedict penned an important wake-up call for band teachers called, “The Problems of Band” (Philosophy of Music Education Review, 16, no. 2, Fall 2008). If you haven’t read it, give it a go. It’s a no-holds barred exposé of the “band tradition” that even names names. Ouch. Here’s one of my favorite quotations from that article:

The problems of the American wind band…stem from an inheritance that is overwhelmed by tradition…predominantly teacher-centered, teacher transmitted, and content/repertoire driven…we are deluding ourselves if we think our students are actually taking on the responsibility of independent musicianship or becoming more musical.

Let’s think a moment about WHY we rehearse, especially in a school setting. I would think that what immediately comes to mind is something like this: to prepare a performance; to improve and perfect. But let’s go deeper. Rehearsing is something we conductors spend a tremendous amount of time doing, not to mention forcing our students to do it, too. What do we really want our students to learn in rehearsal other than the repertoire? Here are some ideas:

We rehearse to make mistakes because we know that we learn more deeply from failure than success.
We rehearse to facilitate LISTENING.
We rehearse to learn everyone else’s part in the whole.
We rehearse to learn how to lead. And how to follow.
We rehearse to build a musical community. To build trust.
We rehearse to develop musical independence.
We rehearse to co-create an environment of safety and the freedom to take risks.
You see where I’m going here? I think what we should be doing in rehearsals is more than getting the music right.

In a subsequent article, I’ll talk about some basics of good rehearsal technique, keeping in mind everything we’re talking about here. And then, we’ll move beyond the basics to get a bit more innovative and even more student-centered.

It’s Not What We Do, It’s How We Do It: Evolving the Concert Experience

What I’d like to talk about today is what we do, what we believe in, and how we do what we do. Which, I believe, is rather suspect. At the end of this article, there will also be some practical ideas.  You probably shouldn’t try them all at once. And you probably won’t like some or all of them. But I think it’s time that we start thinking more about a pretty important stakeholder in what we do, our audience. I’ll talk about my experience in the collegiate and/or professional concert world, but I believe most of the ideas could work in a variety of settings.

It’s time that we start thinking more about a pretty important stakeholder in what we do, our audience.

An iceberg partially above water but mostly below.

Perhaps you’ve seen this meme on the internet. Where the tip of the iceberg is the performance and that vast complicated bit underneath the surface is the rehearsal process. It’s so true, isn’t it? And we’ve all heard that the journey is supposed to be more important than the destination. The process more robust, more post-modern, more life-changing than the product. Presumably this means that the more important lessons are learned along the way. That there is joy in each day’s progress (even, struggle). And the end result will be more fulfilling if we concentrate and are mindful of each step (both forward and backward) along the way.

And who am I to refute this notion? I don’t, in fact. But, let’s be honest, we are surrounded by messages that scream the opposite. We are destination-driven—goal-oriented. I’m a runner, but I don’t really train methodically and smart unless I’ve signed up for a race. Who doesn’t make to-do lists and take great pleasure in checking off the tasks when they are completed? Just about everything we do, especially as teachers/conductors, is driven by the end result.

In our case, that’s the concert, isn’t it? And if that concert is bad—poorly executed, boring, poorly organized, out of tune, rhythmically unstable, whatever—everyone feels bad: the musicians, (perhaps worse of all) you, the musicians’ family members, the community members, and, of course, the administrators. So in this article, I’d like to focus on that performance, that product, the destination, the stuff above the surface.

Just about everything we do is driven by the end result. In our case, that’s the concert, isn’t it?

Let me ask you a question: how many of you think about the audience when you program your concerts? It’s a serious question.

Now, in my case, most of the time, whether I’m guest conducting or at home, our audience is typically friends of the student musicians (or professional musicians), fellow faculty and educators (the student’s teachers), parents, donors, community members, and administrators. This includes the live and the virtual audience, as we’ve been live-streaming concerts at the University of Georgia Hodgson School of Music for the past three years.

With perhaps a few exceptions, I would guess that this is basically your audience as well. Yes?

OK, before we talk about our audience, let’s step back a moment and talk about the classical music concert experience.

When I googled “Classical Music Traditions” in preparation for this article, here are some of the titles that came up:

“What to wear to a Classical Music Concert”
“Concert Etiquette”
“The Concert Ritual: How to Enjoy a Live Concert of Classical Music”
From The Guardian, “Admit It, You’re As Bored As I Am”
“Saving Classical Music”
“The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained” (Huffington Post)
“Is Classical Music Boring?” (According to the bloke at The Guardian, it is)
“Is Classical Music Dying?”
“How Diversity Can Help Save Classical Music”
“Can Classical Music Be Cool?”
“How Do We Fix Classical Music?” …that one from National Public Radio

And my personal favorite,
“Cracking the Secret Orchestral Codes” (NYT)

Isn’t that extraordinarily odd? I don’t think the average person needs to worry about etiquette, rules, what to wear, fixing the genre, saving the genre) when they attend any other kind of live music event. Nope, it’s pretty much just “classical music” concerts that are fraught with strange and difficult-to-understand norms and behaviors. Here’s something, when I google “who attends classical music concerts?” a whole bunch of stats come up, which I’ll share with you in a moment. When I google “who attends a popular music concert,” my whole feed is about the Obamas attending a Beyoncé concert.

It’s pretty much just “classical music” concerts that are fraught with strange and difficult-to-understand norms and behaviors.

If I may quote Richard Dare, a first-time classical music concertgoer who wrote the article I mentioned, “The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained”:

Although I loved the music I heard that evening, I was struck by my observations that concerts might not be easy to figure out for a first-timer. Had I at least been allowed to authentically enjoy the performance going on inside that hall as I might spontaneously appreciate any other cultural pursuit like a movie or a hip-hop concert—if I could clap when clapping felt needed, laugh when it was funny, shout when I couldn’t contain the joy building up inside myself. What would that have been like? But this was classical music. And there are a great many “clap here, not there” cloak-and-dagger protocols to abide by. I found myself preoccupied by the imposing restriction of ritual behavior on offer: all the shushing and silence and stony-faced non-expression of the audience around me [let me add that I bet he observed that on the stage as well], presumably enraptured, certainly deferential, possibly catatonic. I don’t think classical music was intended to be listened to in that way.

Neither, dear reader, do I. Richard Dare calls it “ritual behavior”; I have a student who calls it “ritual compliance” and I believe it’s killing what we do, and what we actually believe in.

We all know that it didn’t always used to be this way. Think of the bawdiness at a Mozart premiere, the boo-ing at a concert featuring the not-so-well-liked Beethoven, the riot that broke out at the premiere of The Rite of Spring…women throwing their unmentionables at Franz Liszt during his piano recitals. I’m not advocating throwing our underwear at anyone by the way, but surely, we’ve moved way too far in the opposite direction.

Concert attendance at classical music events is down in the United States and Canada. We all know it has been in decline for some time. Experts and pundits blame lots of things for this: music teachers (my favorite), poor government funding for the arts, Spotify and Pandora, wind band repertoire (my second favorite), technology and decreasing attention spans, movie music, video games—and perhaps all of this is true and we can lay blame where blame is due. But don’t we need to think about evolving the concert experience?

In 1958, Milton Babbitt penned a deeply controversial but memorable article. (By the way: Can you name a composition by Milton Babbitt? How about some of his contemporaries, such as Igor Stravinsky, Percy Grainger, or Aaron Copland, all of whom who embraced folk song—so called “pop music”—in their music. And whose music has endeared itself into our hearts.)

Charles Rosen wisely said, “The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest living tradition.” Yes, we’ve been saying classical music is dying for at least 200 years. I’m not worried about the music itself. It’s too good to die. Bach, for example, seems to me to be indestructible. The institutions of classical music and music education though, are another matter. There is good reason to worry about them, especially those that have refused to evolve for the better part of a century.

Back to dear Milton. I make my graduate students read his infamous article and write a counter-response entitled, “I Care If You Listen.” Let me be clear, I do care. I care about my audience. I care who listens and I care about what they think. I care when they choose not to come. And when they do, I want them to have a great time.

I believe that the days of ritual compliance at classical music concerts should end. And end now. The kind of concerts that most of us present where, as an audience member, you are never spoken to, you are expected to read the boring program notes in the dark, the musicians on the stage look as bored as you are, and you are expected to behave in a certain way, etc., seem now so silly to me. And boring. And I’m a so-called educated musician!

So, what I promised: here are some things that we have experimented with at the University of Georgia, and before that, at Cornell University. Some of these things you might not be able to do in your particular circumstances, but I hope as I go through these, you’ll let your creative juices flow and think about ways that you might incorporate some of these ideas (and add more of your own) in your unique setting.

No. 1 (and its No. 1 because anyone can decide to do this, anywhere, and any time)

Dump the no-applause rule.

Dump the no-applause rule. Invite your audience to clap whenever they feel like it. There is nothing more ridiculous and repressive than experiencing a huge cadence, inspiring and loud, at the end of the first movement of a concerto or symphony and all you hear is paper rustling and coughing. And we wonder why people don’t enjoy classical concerts? Or why the musicians on stage might not be having as good a time as they could be? Live music is supposed to be invigorating. And there’s a give and take with that audience and player energy that’s so important. Why not give this a try? The Hodgson Wind Ensemble has been doing this for about two years now and WE LOVE IT.

Now, there are ways to introduce this that will be successful and ways that won’t. But you can start with playing a march, or a polka, or any other kind of energetic, motor music, and turn around and clap to the beat. You can also, which is what we did, plant a bunch of clappers, to get the ball rolling and the rules changed.

No. 2

Embrace technology.

Embrace technology. We have tweet seats at the Hodgson Wind Ensemble concerts. They’re at the back of hall (so the lights on the phone don’t disturb the folks who don’t want to tweet), and listeners are invited to tweet to #HWE any time they want during the concert. I know some of you don’t like this. Can’t we find places in our lives where we put the screen down and just be in the moment? I get it. I do. But, I went to an orchestra concert when I first arrived at UGA. Down my row, during the slow second movement, a man started flipping through the program to see what was coming up later in the semester. An older woman across the aisle was so deep asleep, she was drooling on her sweater. You can’t tell me those folks were more engaged without their phones than the folks who tweeted things like this, during the concert:

“Love the clarinet soli! Hard to believe this was written in 1961. So good.”

“I’m down for ‘diet serialism’ but I’m a big boy who can handle full calorie Schoenberg.”

“When the bass drum hits are slightly too soft for your liking.” (Followed by a meme of disappointment)

“Breath. Taking. Completely beautiful and mesmerizing concert setting.”

“Erik has set the tone with that boss level performance. There will be applause after each movement now!”

“How fun! Y’all having fun up there stage-sitters?” (More on this later)


No. 3

Talk to your listeners. There is an entire generation of people who don’t know HOW to listen to music. And, if you are like me and play a lot of new music, guide the audience through it. Share with them why you love the music and want to play it for them.  You might have to examine what makes it quality music—something we don’t explore enough or define. We’re really good at criticizing bad music, but we’re not very good at defining quality. Take a crack at it.

If it’s complex music, play excerpts for them before the actual performance.

If it’s complex music, play excerpts for them before the actual performance. Then they have ‘ah-ha’ moments of recognition when they hear it again.

One of my great moments at UGA was when we performed Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques. I invited a music history professor to speak about the work. We played excerpts and we played bird song over the sound system. We showed the video of Messiaen and his wife at the piano. In the parking lot after the concert, an audience member behind the wheel of an F-150 pick-up truck slowed, rolled down the window, and said, “Dr. Turner! That bird piece was my favorite!”

No. 4

Any time you can have musicians sitting in the hall, go for it.

Experiment with intimacy and breaking down imaginary walls. “Stage-sitters” are just that. Put out some extra chairs and invite audience members to come on stage and sit in their favorite section while you perform the last number. This is a HUGE hit at UGA. A very touching moment happened once when our bass player’s five-year-old son came and sat on his daddy’s bass stool. Any time you can have musicians sitting in the hall, go for it. That requires memorization—not a bad skill for our students to practice.

Rote Hund Muzik (the contemporary chamber ensemble at UGA) transformed the band hall into a lounge for Steve Reich’s Double Sextet. We set up the ensemble in the center, put a few chairs around the audience but invited people to get up and walk around; grab a drink, get a closer look. Big hit.

No. 5

Take risks. At UGA, there is a tradition at football games to “Light Up Sanford.” At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the fans take out their phones and put their lights on and hold them in the air while the marching band plays “The Krypton Fanfare” (from the 1978 Superman movie). Really loud.

We did this at a concert. During a piece called Beacons by Peter Van Zandt Lane, we invited the audience to take out their phones and do the same. We had stand lights, and the hall went completely dark. It was gorgeous. And fun. And pretty. And moving.

No. 6

When you have to put program notes in 120 point bold on the screen, you think twice about what you write.

Experiment with projection and visual aids. At Cornell the stage had a huge screen that could come down because the concert hall was also a lecture hall. Instead of printed program notes, we projected them on the screen. And let me tell you, when you have to put program notes in 120 point bold on the screen, you think twice about what you write. They have to be pithy and interesting. Don’t get me started on bad program notes. Anyway, as the piece progressed, the program notes came on the screen.

We can’t do that at UGA (no screen) so we experimented with listening guides.

But we also rent a projector and screen sometimes. We display images, video, Skyped composers, all sorts of things.

No. 7

Flash mobs. In some USA schools there is a disconnect between the marching band and the concert bands. At some of the Hodgson Wind Ensemble concerts, we invite the marching band to perform in some capacity or another, usually a flash mob outside after the concert. There is also a very popular program of training service dogs at UGA. We had them all come on stage when we performed “The Whistler and His Dog.” I believe we tend to live in a vacuum. We become insulated in our silos of thinking and being. Reach out. Is there an organization or group or individual that you could invite to participate in your concerts in some way?

No. 8

In a world gone mad, why not make statements with music!

Don’t shy away from making a statement. Recently I had an interaction with a student who said, “I don’t want my dissertation to be a political statement.” Why not? In a world gone mad, why not make statements with music! Why not provoke? Why not challenge? Why not engage in difficult discussions? HWE has addressed climate change, racial injustice, gun violence, mental illness—the list goes on. These concerts have been hugely impactful and successful and students have shared that they need to process some of these things. Why not through music?

These are just some ideas. I hope that they get you thinking creatively about what you can do in your own environment.

We all know what happens to a species that does not adapt to changing environments: they simply go extinct.

There’s Something About Charlie

Albany Symphony fans from their 2011 Spring for Music concert

Spring for Music concerts are a big party for which many folks from the cities where the featured orchestras are based come along with the musicians to be part of the action. Here’s a photo of Albany Symphony fans from their orchestra’s 2011 Spring for Music concert (photo by Steve J. Sherman, courtesy M L Falcone Public Relations). Albany returned to Spring for Music on May 7, 2013, for the only other all-American music program on this year’s series.

[Ed. Note: One of the highlights of the 2013 Spring for Music—this week’s series of performances at Carnegie Hall by orchestras from all over North America—is the Detroit Symphony’s traversal of all four of Charles Ives’s numbered symphonies under the direction of Leonard Slatkin on Friday, May 10, 2013. It is not out of the ordinary at this point for American orchestras to perform a complete cycle of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, and similar immersions have been programmed featuring the symphonic works of Brahms and Tchaikovsky. But to the best of anyone’s knowledge who is involved with Spring for Music, the DSO’s Ives cycle–which has also been presented on successive days in the orchestra’s hometown of Detroit between April 26 and May 5–is unprecedented. Can anyone think of any complete symphonic cycle of an American composer presented by an American orchestra?

Charles Ives (1974-1954) Photo by Frank Gerratana, courtesy G. Schirmer/Associated Music Publishers

Charles Ives (1974-1954) Photo by Frank Gerratana, courtesy G. Schirmer/Associated Music Publishers

Yet admittedly the DSO are not performing every composition that Ives considered a symphony. They will not be playing the “Holidays” Symphony, a modular series of tone poems inspired by important American holidays that usually appear on concert programs as individual stand-alone works. Nor will they perform Ives’s “Universe” Symphony, arguably his most revolutionary composition, which exists in Ives’s own manuscript only as a collection of sketches but which has subsequently been assembled into various viable performance editions after his death: a version by Larry Austin was performed by the Nashville Symphony during the 2012 Spring for Music; Johnny Reinhard, who created an even more extensive version of the piece, wrote an extensive essay about it for us. Also not included on the program is the “Concord” Symphony which Henry Brant orchestrated from Ives’s massive Piano Sonata No. 2 Concord, Mass., 1840–60 with the encouragement of Henry Cowell, Ives’s first biographer. However, the four symphonies to which Ives assigned a number form a fascinating cycle that traces the evolution of an indigenous American symphonic tradition. Slatkin, a long-time champion of American composers whom we have previously featured on these pages, describes that journey here.—FJO]

Let me say this right off the bat: I hated Charles Ives.
In 1965, I attended the world premiere of his Fourth Symphony. It was a star-studded audience that heard Leopold Stokowski lead the American Symphony Orchestra. My roommate played viola in the orchestra and said that this was an important event and that I had to go. At this point in my young life I really did not know much about Ives and had only heard The Unanswered Question.

Slatkin leads DSO

Leonard Slatkin conducting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Photo by Donald Dietz (courtesy DSO and Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion)

There I sat in Carnegie Hall, totally confused by what was transpiring—three conductors, three pianos, a huge percussion section, and all manner of cacophony. If it had been longer than 35 minutes I am not sure that I would have stayed. It all seemed to be disorganized rioting. Even the relatively conventional third movement seemed out of place.

I left the hall angry. What was the big deal? How tacky were all those quotes? Did the orchestra actually play what was written or were they just faking it?
Over the years I have had similar early reactions to music by Mahler, Foss, and Berio, to name a few. And in each case I have been so upset that I needed to look at the scores to see what had gotten me so riled up. After closer examination, I found that it was precisely those elements of style and chaos that made the works interesting, and, ultimately, I embraced those composers and their music.

In presenting the four numbered symphonies by Ives during the course of one concert, the Detroit Symphony is taking listeners on a journey unlike any other in music. I can think of no composer who literally changes before our very ears in this way. Whether Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Bruckner, or Mahler, the path from the first symphony to the last always leaves breadcrumbs along the way. But from his first to his fourth, Ives completely veers off that path and along the way creates a wholly new way of compositional thinking.

This presentation is not a stunt, something that may strike some as a circus-like event. It is a serious examination of how American music evolved and how one composer brought that about.

The First Symphony is a naïve exercise, a work from Ives’s student days under Horatio Parker. The music is mostly derivative, sounding sometimes like Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms, with a bit of Wagner thrown in for good measure. There is little to identify that we would call “Ivesian.” The opening of the slow movement, with a plaintive English horn solo over the strings, is clearly a crib of the “New World” Symphony. In addition, the orchestration is often clumsy, and to that end, I have tried to help out a bit. Since Ives did not revisit this score, it seems more than appropriate to alter some of the phrasings and articulations. The piece emerges as that of a talented fledgling who has not yet found his voice.

With the Second Symphony we move toward a true American symphonic language. I use the word language in the same way that, say, Mozart, Schubert, or Mahler would. There are elements of borrowing, some of the vernacular and some of the music of its time. The appearance of “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,” as well as other patriotic tunes seems wholly American and, when combined with hymns and popular ditties, makes this piece the first truly native symphony from the new world. Hard to believe it waited 50 years for its first performance. That premiere is well documented and the performance by Leonard Bernstein was a hallmark at the time. The fact that he also chose to include it in his Young People’s Concerts showed that this was a work to be proud of. Of the famous “raspberry” at the end, Bernstein extended the length of the chord, and it had an instant effect on the audience. With the passage of the years, it is now more shocking to hear it the way Ives originally put it on the page.


Two possible endings of Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 2. © 1951 Southern Music Co., Inc. (BMI). Renewed by Peer International Corp. © 2007 (BMI) International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted from the Critical Edition and
used by Permission.

Ives 3

Slatkin has previously recorded Ives’s Third Symphony with the Saint Louis Symphony.

By comparison, the Third Symphony had a somewhat easier birth: it was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize following its premiere thirty years after Ives wrote it. The harmonic language is more complex than in the previous symphonies, especially in the last movement. The shadow lines, those single instrument passages where wrong notes are evident, are more pronounced now. The shortest of the symphonies showed Ives’s ability to compress his thoughts into a more concise form. The work is also for the smallest forces of the four, and is best heard with reduced string section.

And then we come to the last symphony. What did not make any sense to me almost 50 years ago now seems perfectly constructed. The introductory first movement sets up the rest of the piece. We get the kernel motive in the piano and low strings at the outset. The idea of the distant ensemble of violins and harp is presented. The choir intones, “Watchman, tell us of the night,” preparing us for what is to come at the end of the work.

And that riot of sound and texture that is the “Comedy”? Quarter-tone piano and strings, six trumpets, eleven percussionists, and, of course, the two or three conductors. The Rite of Spring was only three years old when Ives wrote this movement. What was going through his mind and how did he find a way to notate all this? More importantly, what is the listener supposed to hear?

Ives-SYMPHONY 4-p108

Page 108 of the score of Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 4
© 1965 Associated Music Publishers, Inc. (BMI). This edition © 2011 Associated Music Publishers, Inc. (BMI) New York, NY. International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved.
Used by Permission

Perhaps it is this last question that perplexed me the most back in ’65. Today, at least when I conduct the piece, I am overwhelmed with the vision and almost disregard for Ives’s contemporaries. His world was without parallel. When we come to the final “collapse,” it is as if the composer has said that he is out of ideas. But that is hardly the case.
In a brilliant stroke, he brings us to his earlier style of writing—simple, pretty much straightforward, and pretending to be a fugue. What better way to set up the most moving of all Ives? The finale, with its questions of “why” and “what,” are the perfect summation for the symphony. All the elements of the first three movements are here, plus the off-stage funereal percussion. As the music moves to a solemn D major and the chorus and orchestra fade away, we can only be left in wonderment at the achievement.

I guess I have come a long way, from utter disdain to reverence. Sometimes we decide that a journey is not worth taking, but once in a while we go against our initial response and find that the road has many sights and sounds. Perhaps some of you will take this trip with us.