Conductor’s Corner: Voices at an Exhibition

by Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn

Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn

For many of the singers in ARS, music holds a very prominent place in their lives. As I’ve mentioned in past concerts, people often ask this question, “Why do we sing?” The answer is immediate:  “…many of us can’t imagine not singing.”

To celebrate ARS’ 30th anniversary, our spring concert, “Voices at an Exhibition,” offers abundant proof through action that “ . . .we can’t imagine not singing.” Not only is ARS performing a concert with a variety of amazing music, but four visual artworks by local artists are also prominently featured in conjunction with the premier of four original commissioned compositions. They are being introduced in a musical and artistic multimedia presentation that demonstrates the relationship between choral music, written text and visual media.

Inspired by Mussorgsky’s classic “Pictures at an Exhibition,” this one-of-a-kind concert melds music, text and art. The result is a truly unique choral event. ARS commissioned four composers; each composer was given one work of art with a request that they allow their personal interpretation of the artwork to be expressed through a choral composition. The only direction given to the composers were simple vocal guidelines. The choosing of text, musical style and content was totally at the composer’s discretion. The result is four new compositions that clearly demonstrate each composer’s style and how each artwork served as an inspiration for them. What is even more astounding? Each artwork was created by an ARS singer, which emphasizes the tremendous artistic diversity, personal composer/artist relationships and connection with ARS.

In addition to the four premiers, this concert also features pieces that exemplify the vocal talent of ARS as the premier choral ensemble of its type in the Southwest. “Voices at an Exhibition” is just that: voices that sing and perform with a purpose to not only entertain, but to educate and create as well.

Choral singers comprise the largest segment of the musician population in the United States. When ARS displays its vocal excellence as good ambassadors of choral musicians, and couples its artistry with visual media, the result is a truly memorable, inspirational and awe-filled concert worthy of a landmark celebration.