I recently re-discovered this picture from early this year:
Sarah, Renee, and I went to see a Hildegard Von Bingen concert at the National Cathedral, which also featured several female composers. We even got a chance to ask Susan Botti, one of the composers, a question at a Q & A, where she talked about being a women in the composing and classical music industries. In addition to a breathtaking choral concert, we explored the cathedral, towers, stared into the twinkling lights all over DC to pick out landmarks, and talked about composing and music and hopes and dreams.
Fast forward several months to a little cafe in rural Maryland, where I sat across from a wise colleague asking her advice and discussing the oratorio translation that had been sitting in a drawer all of these years, she asked me, “if you set the date and had a venue, could you make it happen?” While I initially thought such rational protestations as I don’t have an orchestra lying around! I realized it actually all boiled down to “if I have Sarah and Renee, I can.” What followed that weekend were some quick texts along the lines of “can you meet for coffee right now?” followed by a “I know this sounds nuts but….” conversation. Both of them knew about the translation I had been working on and, lucky for me, both willingly hopped aboard this wild ride of bringing César Franck’s Ruth to life in the span of a summer.
Renee has the voice of an angel and I knew immediately I wanted her to be Ruth. Sarah is a brilliant pianist, music theory whiz, and composer. I knew that she could take the simple orchestral reduction we were working from and make it sound glorious. I also knew that she would have wherewithal to make adjustments and improvisations where needed to adapt for our purposes. Even though we have since added some more instrumentation, I still just call her my orchestra.
With a quorum of three, we added to our numbers: the amazing Kelly, who came in as choral conductor, taught the choir their music and led rehearsals while on chemo, the small ensemble choir that nearly doubled in size over the course of the summer,
our incredibly talented Naomi and Orpah, as well as additional soloists, a woodwind quartet, cellist, etc. etc. etc.
So if someone saw our little poster, they might wonder who is putting on this production.
There’s no symphony, choral society or organization listed. We are simply a collaboration of musicians that represent many organizations all over the DC area. This group of individuals also represent many different chapters of music from my life: from the dear family friend who taught me to read music when she was my piano teacher to friends I currently sing in choir with now, co-workers, co-workers of friends, friends I did musical theater with in high school and the list goes on. We represent the collaboration, team work and shared passion of telling this beautiful story with Franck’s exquisite composition.