- Composer David Lang
Tonight I have a final rehearsal with Cappella Romana before we do 3 concerts this weekend in the Pacific Northwest. The quote above came rushing into my mind this morning as a clear perspective on what I do as a singer.
I'm headed into these concerts this weekend feeling very unprepared. You see, the music we are singing is wickedly difficult. Learning the notes of this piece (Schnittke's Penitential Psalms) is so challenging. The vocal lines are unpredictable and complex. It is extremely high, low, loud, and soft and in a foreign language. At times the music is traditionally beautiful, at other times ugly and harsh. It requires everything from our 25 voices, bringing most of us to exhaustion. There will inevitably be dozens of errors and wrong notes in the performance, given the amount of time we have to rehearse it. Some of the music is so tricky that even we, the singers, won't know whether our singing is accurate or not. And this music is just the first half of the concert!
This is so unusual for us as professional musicians. Normally, learning the notes, rhythms, and words of a piece are just the first step. From there, we seek to refine and hone the music, and hopefully "say something" with our performance. We hope to present the music to the audience, but also to interpret it in some way, to display a sense of accomplishment and virtuosity, and inspire others with some sort of creative message.
Headed into these performances this weekend, I find myself striving for something a different. As I "fight" and "attempt to overcome" this music, I am hoping to listen to it. I have the feeling that we will be sitting next to our audience as we all listen to this music together, asking ourselves, "What does this music mean?" Perhaps, together, we will find an answer.