News & Views
Dusting off Choral Masterpieces
Singers and audience alike enjoy the well-loved repertoire. It is so nice to be bathed in familiar tunes that make you feel at home. Audiences rarely fail to be stirred by Faure's Requiem or Mozart's Mass in C Minor. For singers, it is often a relief to open the music and find that it won't be a sight-reading battle.
Sometimes though, choirs and singers prefer to live rather more on the edge. There are Musical Directors who commission new works or dig deep into the musical archives to find pieces that challenge the singers and excite their audiences.
Fashion applies to composers and their works and it is often hard to keep your place in the sun. It seems hard to believe but the glorious creations of J.S. Bach lingered in the shadows for over a century until Felix Mendelssohn rescued them and brought them back to the attention of the music-loving public. Read more about it here.
It is wonderful to listen to a familiar favourite but, in my opinion, it is even more special to find something that speaks to you in a new way. We should cherish those moments when a piece of music surprises or challenges you when the hair stands up on the back of your neck or tears spring to your eyes.
It can take a bit of time and you may have to sift through a lot of ordinary before you find the special but the hunt is worth it. There is something heroic about the way that human beings strive to achieve perfection in performance and the journey is worth watching even when they don't quite make it.
Occasionally we are rewarded, however, with a moment of beauty that lasts in the memory for the rest of our lives. I will never forget hearing Strauss's 'Four Last Songs' at a late night Proms performance in the Albert Hall. Even now, years later, I can close my eyes and recreate the feeling created by the perfection of the singing and the heart-wrenching message of the music.
Perhaps it is time for you to search out those moments and try to find music that pushes beyond the edges of your experience. There is probably a lot of opportunity in your local area. Why don't you try it? There is a great list of 'Underrated Masterpieces' here. You can find concerts near you on Concert Diary.