The following is a guest entry by Betsy Grizzell, a singer with Chicago a cappella. She will be writing our blog this week while Jonathan Miller is on vacation.
All We Are Saying is Give the Piece a Chance
This weekend I sang in the CSO performances of Wynton Marsalis’ All Rise. Wow, wow, wow on so many levels. And yet I noticed some empty seats after intermission. Go on, run home to your Beethoven Nine.
Preparing a new work is not easy. Listening to a new work can be challenging, too. Wimps will bale. Real music lovers will give each piece a chance.
Chicago A Cappella regularly performs new compositions. Thank goodness Jonathan, our music director, is dedicated to bringing these works to our audience. But sometimes we can’t take the heat.
As we prepared for a recent series, the singers were presented with a new composition that wore us out! We rehearsed and rehearsed, but the piece was flying like a lead duck. We tried a mutiny, but our fearless leader would not give up on the piece. It slowly started to come together. But how, we wondered, would our audiences receive the piece? After all, they only got one shot at it.
We decided to invite the audience to do their job: to be active listeners. To sit up, pay attention, and listen for specific things in the piece. It worked. As we sweated our way through the piece, we could see the audience really working to make sense of it. The work received quite an ovation. The audience listed it in their response cards as one of their faves.
We have another tough one coming up in our April concerts: The Wanderer by Ezequiel Vinao, which was commissioned by Chicago A Cappella and Chanticleer. It’s a killer! Our brave audiences, I’m sure, will give the piece a chance. And peace, too.