Greetings, friends! I am writing from Salt Lake City where I have enjoyed 4 vibrant days of phenomenal music at the ACDA international conference. These conference/retreat experiences are so nourishing to me as an artist, and they are simply good for my soul! Hearing such wonderful ensembles as Voces 8, Sine Nomine, The King's Singers, The Real Group, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra (performing in the tabernacle with its amazing acoustics), the USC Thornton Chamber Singers, the Utah Symphony with Sylvia McNair and the US Air Force Singing Sergeants--all in the same week--leaves one dizzy with beautiful, lush, healing sounds buzzing around in one's head. If only all the sounds in my head were always this edifying!
On top of concert after concert of inspiring music (and not just from the professionals--the school and college groups selected to perform here are pretty inspiring too!) there are, of course, the standard workshops that all conferences sport... Being ever interested in learning and growing, I've had my notebook out several times this week, learning about such interesting subjects as American folksongs and where to find them, how to sing in Russian, new interesting methods of vocal warmups and improvisation, the changing vocal fold structure of the aging singer, and singing through score after score of new, wonderful choral music.
Even more rewarding, though, than all this aural and mental stimulation have been the priceless moments of reuniting with friends I have met along my musical path: other Ithaca College music alumni (as well as former Ithaca mentors of mine), other University of Southern California alumni (and mentors from there!), friends from my professional singing career (my fellow studio singers with Alfred Music Publishing), and professional colleagues I've gained from my years living in South Carolina, New York and Los Angeles. What a whirlwind week--and what beautiful memories we are still making...
These very important growing experiences have more significance than I formerly realized. While it is important to continue learning about my craft and profession (by attending conferences) and to periodically surround myself with the very best music on the planet (by attending conferences), an unexpected further blessing comes when I realize that, in so doing, I have taken time to look back and remember where I have been, treasure the people with whom I have learned about life and art, and share memories--both old and new--with those whom I consider lifelong friends in music. I fully believe the words offered me by vocal pedagogue Dale Moore who once took me aside and exclaimed, "You have chosen the very best profession in the world." If this is work, who needs vacations?