Fox Chapel High School (PA)

In a busy day filled with multiple clinics (three different schools with 10 choirs overall!), the Fox Chapel High School Choir brought incredibly challenging repertoire prepared with a high degree of excellence. And yet, the clinic had a bit of a rocky start. At times, every note can be in place, every rhythm can be crisp, and the tone can be well-produced, and yet still something is missing. What was missing was the passion that must be inherent in every great ensemble, and thus the communication of the text. 

We tried a variety of different methods for achieving better communication, including interpretive discussion, singing in a circle with no conductor - only eye contact, and fleshing out what was truly important in the music. I think it’s easy to forget that we are servants of the music and one another, and the Fox Chapel choir quickly turned their choral clinic into a reaffirmation of why they love music - and each other. There were tears a-plenty, and for all the right reasons. Benjamin Murray is only in his second year as the choral director of this historically excellent program, but he’s already doing exemplary work with these fine students. 

Their performance of Clausen’s ‘My Luve’s Like a Red Red Rose’ was very moving and emotional, and the men showed a wonderful vulnerability in the middle section. The women sang with listening ears, which made them more together and added palpable intent. Facial expression was at a premium, and the students truly 'looked like the music’. A question and answer period even revealed some long held feelings about how special the group was, and how much they meant to each other. 

Every once in a while, these choral clinics turn into something that teaches me more than I actually teach them, and this was indeed one of those times. It taught me that we can never get complascent about the way we serve the music and each other. It is my hope that these choristers continue to push their personal envelope of expression, and truly communicate the music above all else! This was one of the finest choirs I’ve heard come through Nashville!

© Tucker Biddlecombe 2016