What is Culture?

A lot of people (yell) talk about culture these days.

That yelling, I mean "talking," is part of our culture.

Our culture is loud. Obnoxiously loud.

Our culture is filled with strife and conflict. People are "always angling for something bigger/better/faster/more."

Our culture is exhausting.

Because conversations happen on a very laser-focused matter, out of context, without thought for the big picture. The big whole-of-everything.

The big whole-of-everything is our societal culture, which…

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Elm Ensemble: 5 American Classical Hymns

One of the coolest parts about singing with the Elm Ensemble is finding out all the cool connections people have to other musicians, conductors, and composers.

The Elm Ensemble conducted an interview with Peter Mercer-Taylor, who reseached the adaptions we recorded of these five American Classical Hymns. You can read the interview here (there's a link to his book, too).

Then you can check out all five recordings here:

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Elm Ensemble: Life From Death is Jesus' Doing

The Elm Ensemble has published several more videos, this one being Life From Death is Jesus' Doing.

It's from the Southern Harmony, which is a hymn and tune book used for singing and teaching singing. Southern Harmony and Shape Note, which is the specific way that the notes are shaped to indicate which pitch they are on the scale.

Interestingly, it took two degrees, a 5-year stint in Germany, and returning to the U.S. before I'd ever heard of or sung anything from the Southern Harmony book or …

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When People Ask You to Work for "Exposure," Show Them This

Six or seven years ago somebody asked me to sing a St. John Passion. It was two rehearsals (for the solos only), three performances, and I believe two sound recording sessions.

The offer was something like $250.

Plus exposure.

At first I wasn't sure if he meant $250 per call or $250 total. $250 total would have been less than minimum wage.

I tried to clarify, and he proceeded to berate me to take the gig because "All of my colleagues had accepted the same amount of pay."

So he first offered…

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January 6th, 2021

After crying through the news last night and this morning this popped into my head.

Bach BWV 170, Movement 3

In German:

Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen

die dir, mein Gott, so sehr zuwider sein:

Ich zittre recht und fühle tausend Schmerzen,

wenn sie sich nur an Rach und Hass erfreun.

My English translation:

How they wail at me, these backward hearts,

who are so contrary to you, my God.

I just shake and feel a thousand pains

when they rejoice in revenge and hate.


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We Sing Bach, Even in a Pandemic

We sing Bach because of a pandemic.

We sing Bach in spite of a pandemic.

The Thüringer Bachwochen did a LOT of work in a very short amount of time and released a video of 160 singers singing a Bach chorale with Helmuth Rilling.

Bach singers from around the world took part - it was delightful to see all the different people I've worked with in Germany, Chile, and the U.S. singing along.

The list of countries of the singers who participated is at the end of this video. It's quite a long list!

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