Greetings from Cannon Beach, Oregon!

3 08 2013
My choir sisters Susan (from left), Melissa, Anne-Marie, and me in pink under the iconic 235-foot Haystack Rock, Northern Oregon coast.

My choir sisters and new friends Susan (from left), Melissa, and Anne-Marie . . . and me in pink under the iconic 235-foot Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Northern Oregon coast.

For an update, please scroll to the end of the post.

Last night the Choral Conductors Workshop with Rod Eichenberger culminated in a concert in which I was one of 20 master class conductors. It was my conducting debut, and what a fabulous choir to direct for my very first time: about 130 choral directors and music educators from around the country.

They came to learn from the master, who’s perfected a method of “what they see is what you get” conducting. Generally speaking, the singer will mirror, with his/her vocal chords, the body movements of the conductor. It’s so fascinating to watch and hear, makes perfect sense.

I first met Rod Eichenberger in Honolulu at a similar workshop.

That experience gave me the idea that this was something I could learn to do and add to my skills set. It’s never too late to learn something new. As Rod told his class, he makes it a point to learn something new every day.

In class, Rod is looking for what he can correct in my conducting.

In class, Rod is looking for what he can correct in my conducting.

I decided to invest in the workshop and travel costs, treating myself to a change in scenery and a vacation to visit relatives at the same time. The people at the workshop were very supportive and responsive. I was so humbled by the combined talent and dedication of the whole group.

On the first day I selected from 180-plus pieces of music “Cherokee Amazing Grace,” arranged by James E. Green, to conduct. The melody is the same as the familiar hymn “Amazing Grace,” a tune I know. The lyrics were in Cherokee. I liked that they were native. Translated into English, they are:

“God’s Son paid for us. Then to Heaven He went after paying for us. But He said, when He rose. “I’ll come again” He said when He spoke. All the earth will end when He comes All will see Him all over the earth. All the good people living He will come after. Heaven always in peace they will live.”

This is the Cherokee national anthem.

According to the program notes:

“During the Trail of Tears in 1838-39, the Cherokee sang Christian hymns “Amazing Grace” and “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” in their native language while incarcerated in stockades and while being marched westward. Over one third of the twelve thousand Cherokee died in the infamous Nunna dula Tsuny (Trail Where They Cried), or ‘Trail of Tears.’ During this terrible trek, families sang songs in the traditional language to locate their kin and to bring comfort to the grieving. The Cherokee language and songs held the people together. Cherokee people still sing these songs to acknowledge the experience of their ancestors during the Trail of Tears.”

Thank goodness for basses: my choir buddies on either side of me in the back row, Bert and Omaldo

Thank goodness for basses: my choir buddies on either side of me in the back row, Bert and Omaldo. We had assigned seating, with the voice parts SATB all mixed up. That’s my empty chair in the middle. I’m an alto.

Carol Rich, accompanist extraordinaire, at the Steinway

Carol Rich, accompanist extraordinaire, at the Steinway

Me, conducting the dress rehearsal on the day of performance with violin, percussionists, soloist, and choir. Half of the choir and the soloist are not pictured. Cannon Beach School Gymnasium, Oregon.

Me, conducting the dress rehearsal on the day of performance, with violinist, percussionists, vocalist, and choir. Half of the choir and the soloist are not pictured. Cannon Beach School Gymnasium, Oregon.

Please check back here at Rebekah’s Studio in a few days. As soon as the video of the concert is available, I will post a link. UPDATE: http://vimeo.com/album/2482420/video/72009256

Thank you everyone. I feel the love!

The Choral Conductors Professional Development Workshop with Rod Eichenberger is sponsored by George Fox University.

Copyright 2013 Rebekah Luke







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