Summer Choral Festival Finale Concert

San Diego Summer Choral Festival

San Diego Summer Choral Festival

In most musical media today, there is a very subtle trend: the song you’ve heard on the radio or online, sung so beautifully and infectiously you pay through the nose to see the artist. At the concert, they miss notes, the song isn’t in the same key, or maybe that “High A” is changed to some longshot key that works for the chord, but it's not what you were hoping for. Are you being picky, or are you just noticing something?

That’s popular music today, a battle between the artist and the soundboard. What you’re experiencing is the illusion of perfection that an album gives. Artists go through multiple takes, as many as they need to hit that perfect note once. Whole teams of sound experts have tweaked pitches to make sure a singer isn’t sharp or flat. A song is a synopsis of those brief moments expertly blended into a cohesive piece. The focus of a popular concert is the social aspect, the “show” of bringing people together to celebrate their favorite artists outside their studios.

Summer Choral Concert San Diego

On the other side of this spectrum is the finale of the Summer Choral Festival conducted by Dr. Patrick Walders and Luke Frels. Inside St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church were a sizeable number of pews leading toward a wall adorned with a lone cross, a familiar venue to any choir member. Featuring the Schola of the Festival Chorus and the San Diego Pro Arte Voices, the finale features songs old and new, songs that can’t be shared online due to recording being a traditional faux pas. The young Vincent Pham’s final organ performance before leaving for conservatory was impressive and Eriks Esenvalds Stars is truly a song I would recommend everyone download. 

The real show-stopper came with the world premier of a new piece by Shawn Kirchner “Song of Myself” with mentions of a friend who was lost just before the piece was played, followed by two other pieces, “Meet Me on the Mountain” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness." 

Choral Festival

Through it all, aside from applause after each piece and the occasional shuffling of my notebook, silence. Nothing in that one-hour span but the sound of music being played and sung. It’s the kind of thing you miss in a packed stadium, summed up by a phrase many classical musicians know: “a service to the music”. It doesn’t take a sophisticated mind or upper caste of person to deeply appreciate music. To perform it, it takes crippling levels of practice in every aspect.

So we give it to them now, to the San Diego Summer Choral Festival as a whole, bravo! To Dr. Walders of Pro Arte Voices, congratulations on another job superbly done. As for the San Diego community, the talented musicians, the next trending topics could be right in front of you. Take time and learn what musicians can do with music all on its own.

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