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April 15 – the day after

Weather: cloudy, warmish, nondescript.

Quite often after a big concert I go into a mini-depression of sorts. It is probably only natural after a somewhat manic period leading up to the concert. If it hits, I only remember everything that was not good and think it was all my fault. I used to really get freaked out by those days (it is only a few days for me), but nowadays I know it is part of the process, perhaps even a necessary phase before moving on.

Today, there is no depression. Just a nice calm feeling of having done everything I could have and having succeeded well enough. Again, I turn my thoughts to sport. If you win a game, you are not going to dwell on small errors. You need to think them through and fix them at training, but you still see the bigger picture – the team won. I think I’ll stay with that thought.

It is incredibly satisfying that the audience, including connoisseurs of choral music, seemed to enjoy the concert so much. Besides the fact that it helps me enjoy the result (peer support, as it were), there is the wonderful thought that there is still plenty of gas left in the tank – we can become much better if we keep working like we have. If the singers stick to the system and sing in an unforced and energetic manner, their voices will strengthen and the sound palette of the choir will become more and more colourful. I believe experiences like yesterday and the feedback they received will make the singers even more committed to the ‘game plan’.

We have started having open discussions together after concerts. The first time we did it about a year ago, my question of ‘how did you experience the concert’ was answered with every small bit of criticism the singers had heard from people in the audience. When I pointed out that I actually asked what they had experienced and felt about the concert, the reaction was completely different. The singers were actually very proud of what they had achieved and thought they had done really well. I found the discussion that followed was important for the feeling within the choir. I tried to stay silent as long as I could, perhaps only interpreting a few opinions or contextualizing them. I only gave my thoughts after all the guys had offered theirs. I tried to be very careful not to walk over these opinions even if they did not correspond with mine – or at least argue very patiently and respectfully why I felt differently. My main task, in my view, was to look further forward and see how we could implement any ideas that came up and how we could fix any problems that were pointed out in the discussion.

Since that first time, I have really enjoyed those moments and have gained important insights to how the singers experience things. I believe we have actually learned to do things better better in preparing for big concerts thanks to these discussions. I also feel these discussions are important for the choir: they emphasize that everyone is an important part of the whole and that the views of every singer are valued equally. I look forward to tomorrow’s discussion (yes, we have a rehearsal tomorrow…).



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