This past week Scott King shared a recording of the vocal ensemble singing a medley of tunes, and the recording reminded me of two things: first, the range of talent in our community is impressive; secondly, that wonder is a local commodity sometimes inspired by small moments that can have disproportionate impact. An eight-minute recording can impact a day, a week, sometimes a month. It lingers. Echoes.
Scott King recorded the vocal ensemble in the Chapel the other week, students clustered around the K. Kawai piano to work with Rob St. Cyr, altos and sopranos on either side of him, bass and tenors in front. “Sometimes it’s a challenge,” Rob says, “to be able to stand outside of the music to hear the voices when I am playing.” My sense is that he does this well, being both in the midst of the voices and the notes, and being the objective listener standing outside of the whole.
In a time when there is such a push in education to teach the skills of collaboration and appreciation for what a group can accomplish, one of the visible examples of how this happens best is found in the vocal ensemble. These students – Cope, Avery, Raizel, Eliza, Ryelle, Sarah, Jacqui, Victoria, Addie, Jay, Logan, Cade, Ian, Carl, Jack, and Nelson – come into a space where to honor the music they are attempting to master, they must work together. They must be finely attuned to the pitch of the other while following the music and following Rob. They must collaborate if they are to reach their best.
Scott wanted to record students in the Chapel, not the recording studio, so they could be in a “…space that feels like their space, a space they’re used to and comfortable in, because when artists are comfortable, that is when they are likely to give their best performances, and as an audio engineer, you want to capture the best performance you can so you can have the best sounding, most dynamic and exciting record possible.” (You can listen to that recording here. To maximize the experience, listen with a pair of decent headphones.)
When I stopped by the chapel to chat with Rob on Thursday, Raizel wandered through the room to work on her Senior Project (creating an art installation). We briefly debated whether anyone could sing. My contention was a definitive “no”, referencing my past voice lessons and brief foray into singing. She and Rob argued the opposite. To me, however, it is not so much the ability that matters so much as the ability to appreciate what happens in a choral moment: collaboration and spontaneity, the past stepping into the present, and always a little magic. Listening to a well-executed performance is like listening to the touch of silk.
A nod goes out this week to Scott King and the vocal ensemble.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School