There was an OperaLex Board meeting.
We meet in the Schmidt Vocal Arts Center at the University of Kentucky, which is also where this year’s cast of It’s a Grand Night for Singing rehearses. After my meeting, I slipped in to watch and listen to a bit of their rehearsal.
These are early rehearsals, devoted to learning the music before the choreographer comes in next week.
Dr. Everett McCorvey was conducting the rehearsal. Two evenings before, Dr. McCorvey was awarded UK’s highest academic award by the president of the university. Tonight he’s guiding about 30 young singers through the intricacies of the Great American Popular Songbook. The passion and the pride is the same for each night – his and the young singers. It’s the same passion and pride he’s brought to this production and these singers every year since 1993. I’ve witnessed it myself every year.
Dr. McCorvey took a moment to explain to the cast that the geezer that just sneaked in was harmless. He, being a real good guy, phrased it much more graciously than that. One lady in the alto section mentioned that in the second year of Grand Night, I had sung “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” to her daughter, and that her daughter was now 29. There’s a special place in Purgatory for people like her.
They were working on “Rhythm of Life” from Sweet Charity.
Everett stopped the rehearsal to point out that in measure 89 (of several hundred measures), the staccato was on the first beat only. The rest of the measure was rhythmically smooth. He then ran the passage three times to emphasize the rhythm and get it right.
Get it right.
One measure out of hundreds – get it right.
Not just on a solo when everyone is watching you, but in a chorus, perhaps in the background – get it right.
Not just when it matters – it always matters – if you know what “right” is, get it right.
Not just in loud places, not just in quiet places, not just in public, not just in private, not just in the Schmidt Center, not just in Lexington, not just in Washington, not just today…
…it always matters.
If you know what “right” is, get it right.
That’s what the arts can teach us…and I fear we are in sore need of that teaching these days.