Because of various externalities, I decided to cancel my little trip around the freezing, forrested areas of New England for Christmas. Instead, I'm spending it with my little sister who travelled from Stanford to stay with me in Connecticut. And lemme tell ya'all folks: it's cold here! We've all got the sniffles, reduced to rubbing hands in front of the faulty heating to warm up. At least we have music to share! We can't eradicate world hunger and injustice, but boy, can we sightread.
In the spirit of Christmas, I thought I'd post a little video from the last concert I had with the mixolydians, a small singing consort that I direct at Wesleyan. We usually do lots of funky, eclectic 21st century Eastern European stuff (think lots of cluster chords and an over-zealous penchant for stacked major-seconds), but this year we decided to improve our musicality by going back to "basics". And by basics, I mean the hefty interpretative task of Poulenc's gorgeous 1952 Ave Verum Corpus for female choir.
You can just see my back, conducting this piece, milking the musicality for all its worth. But I think slowing down the tempo and underplaying the architectonics paradoxically stresses its psychically schizophrenic texture. Poulenc is, of course, famous for composing in juxtapositionary cells, but here he seems to have a keen pulse of voice-leading techniques than in his Mass for choir and orchestra, for example. I let the music "speak for itself" (don't press me on this point on Christmas Eve, let's celebrate!)
Get a cup of eggnog people, and kick back on those upholstery. Merry Christmas Eve.