R – Here is the second set of excerpts from of a set of articles I published just over 20 years ago for the Vermont Choral Directors association. In part 1 I gave some background on Marv and his impact on me as a significant mentor in my career. To this day, Marv has strong feelings and opinions on all elements of the choral art. But his perspectives come from years of working with Robert Shaw and Norman Luboff among others, as well as conducting his own professional choirs along the way. Here are some more snippets of his thoughts and writings through the years.
Letters From Marv – part 2
* (as a result of rehearsing together) I’m hopeful all of us are much more, as human beings, than what we were back in January.
* problems of intonation comes from just singing notes—not content. When you sing content, you understand “what” you are singing about—you understand “why” you are singing what you are singing.
* If the singers cannot take personal pride in his/her individual preparation of the music, then how in hell do we expect them to bring otherwise to the collective preparation for performance?
* Content——line——–emotional aesthetic, collective consciousness, terrace dynamics, breathing, vocal phonology… harmonic rhythm… pulse, rhythm, articulation within the line…… resonators…. phrase endings and phrase beginnings….. emotional pauses….. SO much to talk to those singers about…
* Why are we singing? Once answered then the collolary questions are, Are we singing? Are we singing?
* In a few days, you will be asked, through my conducting, to create, anew, variations of those elements of music that can bring about a revealing musical expression…and a rewarding musical experience—for you as performer and listener, and our listening audience. I submit to you that the art of re-creation is the most exciting temporal art this writer knows. Each of us has been involved in that penultimate moment of performance which is truly unique. And although we’ve sung our music over and over again, at that very moment of performance, it has a uniqueness all its own. Do we ever ask why? Do we just expect the usual obligatory score reading? I THINK NOT!
* I not only want to work with singers who have great personalities, but singers who also have great intellect, because I approach singers from a psycho-philosophical point of view. When I say to a group, ‘The notes are already in this room; all we need to do is join them”, I need singers who have some cognitive ability to grasp some of that idea.
* If a singers does not believe in the fundamental integrity of a song, then that singer is “in the way” of the communicative process. We get out of the way by understanding our role as COMMUNICATORS! We have to be the mind of the music. We have to be the composer.
* I submit to you that all of music is an attempt at communication between human hearts and minds-bringing performer and audience together. It is essentially a time that does not differentiate us, but a time which integrates us; it is a time which does not divide us but rather a time which identifies us. In essence, it is MANKIND-coming together to reaffirm its humanity as a collective—socially, intellectually, artistically, and religiously.
* When we sing fortes it must be for a reason. We don’t do it because there is an “ff” on the page. We must do it because of why the composer put it there, in context with the words we are singing at that time.; in context to what has been sung previous to that moment, and to what will be sung after that moment. Do you understand what I mean? (smile)
* These young singers have to walk off the stage feeling that they have given the audience a musically revealing and rewarding choral experience.
* I believe only one thing ever counts: the acquisition of perfection. Nothing less than that is worth our trouble. Sure—it’s good to get together to sing for fun. But offering 90% or 95% of ourselves is NO accomplishment and NO happy memory.
* Music is great not because some self-appointed personalities decree it be so, but rather because it calls out to that some thing deep and persistent at the human thing; music is great because it carries that some thing so native and true to the human spirit—and not even the sophisticated intellect can deny nor destroy its miracle.