Mary says she’s let you all know that I won’t be returning in the fall, and explained the reasons I told her. The short version is that the changes in my life sort of took me by surprise; and I realized I have to adjust with them, though I had sort of been in denial about it. I had been planning to stay another year until my husband and I move to Massachusetts, but I can’t. I wish wish! WISH I had seen it sooner so I could have done this better, but my vision about this stuff is sometimes clouded. Conducting is my work, my job; but the work itself is also necessarily personal, and that makes it complicated to deal with as simply professional.
Astonishingly, this naval-gazey gibberish is just the sort of stuff that I’ve been able to use as strength in my work with you.
Working with CYC has been intensely personal, as my best conducting always is. There are the large scale life events that human beings inevitably share–I’ve known a lot of you for all eight years I had the privilege to lead you, and seen changes in your lives while you’ve seen vast changes in mine–and there are also the smaller scale personal choices like what repertoire I select, how I talk about it with you, and what stories I tell you so that you can find your own personal connection. And that’s just the surface level interaction of the rehearsal process.
In the moment of actually making music, the best singing is always personal and honest; and to do it takes courage that results in the willingness to be yourself in front of an audience even while you’re doing this very difficult technical task of producing appropriate vocal tone. And that shared experience of connecting personally to art is one of the most powerful things I know. CYC is a community choir where the “community” part is genuinely as important as the “choir” part, and that intention manifests as even stronger connection. So, yeah, deciding to step away from a group with whom I’ve shared that so many times is heartbreaking.
But I look at the logistics of my life and I know it’s necessary. Logistics and practicality often suck. They and my horrendous lack of timely perception of them rob me of the chance to say a proper goodbye. So I settle for this.
I waited for today because it’s the deadline for your search for a new conductor, and I didn’t want to interfere in that in any way… except maybe to encourage you to enjoy the pleasure of getting to know new people and seeing what their individual perspectives have to offer.
I’ve poured my heart over you, and asked for yours in return. We do it in service of the music and each other. And you’ll do that no matter who stands up front. Whoever that lucky person is, your experience of singing together as a community will be the same. I take that knowledge with me, confident that you are in the best possible hands: your own.
All I can do now is thank you for your years and your music and your heart. You have been a tremendous joy in my life, personally and professionally.
p.s. Did you know I thanked you in my dissertation acknowledgements? Fearless you are!