Summer is finally here, and there’s nothing like 95 degree weather with 90% humidity to remind you of that. That’s the weather I’ve been enjoying for the past two weeks in Tampa, FL, where I participated in the Professional Choral Institute as a singer and conductor. As a conducting student at Yale, you are not required to do anything during the summer between your two years, but you are strongly encouraged to participate in summer conducting programs. I applied to a few, and PCI ended up drawing me in.
PCI is in its second year and was originally created as a summer program for semi-professional singers who want to make the jump into the world of pros. The program highlights Seraphic Fire, a pro choir based out of Miami that comes in for the second week to join the PCI singers. Last year, the combined choir recorded the Brahms Requiem, which was nominated for a Grammy! This year, rather than doing a recording, the final result was a concert (well, two…one in Sarasota, and one in Tampa). And a new addition was added to the program – conductors. Eight of us were invited to both sing with the choir, and have some podium time. We received both conducting and voice lessons, and had a lot of discussion time with Patrick Quigley, director of Seraphic Fire and a Yale grad!, and Dr. James Bass, director of choral activities at the University of South Florida, and a bass in Seraphic Fire. The Brahms Requiem is a fantastic piece, but this year’s repertoire combined a lot of choral music’s Greatest Hits. What a joy it was to study, sing, and conduct this music!:
Bach, Jesu meine Freude
Bach, Singet dem Herrn
Bach, Lobet den Herrn
Hassler, Dixit Maria
Schutz, Verleih uns Frieden
Schutz, So fahr ich hin zu Jesu Christ
Rheinberger, Abendlied (Bleib bei uns)
Mendelssohn, Richte mich Gott
Mendelssohn, Denn Er hat seinen Engeln befohlen
Pachelbel, Jauchzet dem Herrn
Victoria, Pange lingua “more hispano”
Here’s a video of me conducting one of the movement’s from Bach’s Jesu meine Freude in a masterclass:
The conductors in this program received an extraordinary amount of attention, for which I am so grateful. Not only did we each get to rehearse the PCI choir for 10 minutes a day and conduct the combined choir in two 20-minute public masterclasses, but we also had around five 2-hour seminars with Patrick and James to talk details about how to survive in this business. These are things they don’t teach you in school! We were blown away by the generosity shown by our teachers; many teachers at summer programs make you feel like you’re inconveniencing their busy schedules. To the contrary, Patrick and James gladly scheduled in extra seminars when we showed interest.
If you know me, you know that I hardly ever have only good things to say! Of course I have critiques of this program, like I have critiques of everything, and I’m happy to share those with anyone who might be interested. But overall, the past two weeks were a great experience for me, both musically and personally. My rep list multiplied in preparing for this program! It was great to sing many hours a day and conduct Greatest Hits, because Lord knows I wouldn’t be doing any music this summer if I didn’t have something to do it for. And beyond all the music, getting away for two weeks helped give me the time and space to do some vocational discerning, for which I am always thankful.
Speaking of vocational discerning, I have a feeling I’ll be doing some more of that this week. I’m back in New Haven for just one week before my biggest summer adventure – a month of learning Spanish in Ecuador! Originally, I was just going to spend the week recovering from PCI and preparing for Ecuador. (Ha… “just”.) But then I decided to take on something else because, well, I’m Amanda Weber, and that’s just what I do. So I’ll be working for Yale’s Congregations Project, a week-long workshop for congregations across the US that are doing awesome things. Luther Place participated last summer, and though I was originally slated to go, my transition to grad school took me in a different direction. So I suppose I’m trying to get the experience this year. I’ll be following one of the congregations around and writing an article for the Yale ISM magazine. Should be an exciting – and busy! – week.
Beyond that, I may be hard to get ahold of. I’ll be in Ecuador June 30-July 29, then in Sweden Aug 2-11 (read my previous post to catch up on my crazy summer). And in addition to all the traveling, my housemates and I are moving to a cheaper place, just 3 blocks away. So for the next couple of months, feel free to send me emails, but come August, here is my new address:
15 Foster St
New Haven, CT 06511