MAP: Why do you think the MidAmerica Experience is important?
Ed: It gives students to perform on the grandest stage in the world, and to work/learn/sing with outstanding choral directors from around the country. Within the MAP structure, it gives choirs/singers that may not be of the "elite" level, to collaborate with other choirs to create a rather "elite" sounding ensemble. It also gives the outstanding choirs to give solo performances. From my experience, and in speaking with other directors and students, when the choirs return home from this experience, their confidence, levels of expectations, and skill levels have been lifted and enriched.
MAP: If you have performed previously with MidAmerica, when was that?
Ed: I initially heard about MidAmerica Productions through ChoralJournal, after which I prepared two choirs to sing in Carnegie Hall (Phoenix College and Chandler Gilbert Community College). I believe CGCC (Bruce Rogers) was with MAP and not sure who we were with for Phoenix College (Larry Kaptein).
MAP: What was the main musical experience that your performers took way from their residency in NYC which culminated in their Carnegie Hall performance?
Ed: Since our performance, I have heard and received so many wonderful comments from students and directors. The words that keep appearing are: inspiring, life-changing, educational, emotional, incredible, once-in-a lifetime experience, enriching. I have also received many comments regarding how quickly and efficiently our HUGE choir came together in such a short amount of time. The "teacher" in me likes to focus on the rehearsals and giving the students more musical/vocal tools, ideas, concepts and the "communal attitude" of working together so that what they experienced in NY, doesn't stay in NY (unlike Las Vegas 🙂 ), but they can continue to apply what they learned at home with their own choirs.
MAP: As music director, what was the most memorable personal experience you took away after this residency?
Ed: What immediately "popped" into my head was what happened at end of our final rehearsal before the dress rehearsal. I asked the students to make a big circle in our rehearsal room, close their eyes and sing one of the powerful, dramatic and "transforming" sections of the "Requiem"..."I am the resurrection and the life...." It was truly a stunning moment to observe as they sang a cappella and non-directed. I get goose bumps as I write. Other moments were in the last movement when the sopranos entered with "Lux aeterna" -- it was "what heaven sounds like". During the concert, I was looking into the eyes of the singers -- many of whom sang from memory. At the end of their performance, I had the opportunity to meet every student as they left the stage and exchange a high five, hand shake, hug, whatever. The overriding experience was to watch and hear the students from their first rehearsal to final concert work so well together, continue to grow, open up themselves and become much more vulnerable and expressive during our time together. After over 45 years of teaching I continue to be amazed, believe in the power of music and how it brings us together as singers, but even more as people.