Posted on January 25, 2009 by Michael
The Michael O’Neal Singers had an exciting 20th Season Gala last night that included wonderful food and drink, an opportunity for visiting with old and new friends, and many shared memories and hopes for the future. I personally wish to thank all those who planned and worked so hard to make the evening the success it was. During the course of the evening I was given the opportunity to offer some ”brief” words and I would like to include a few of them in my blog today. They express just a portion of my appreciation and thanks for the opportunity to work with MOS these past twenty years.
With each passing year I am more convinced that what we accomplish in our lives has at least as much to do with the faith and support of those around us than with any individual skill or talent we may possess. And ultimately, a personal vision involving choral music must become a shared vision for any hope of lasting success.
From 1972 to 1989 I had the opportunity to work with Robert Shaw, Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and also widely recognized as the finest American choral director of the 20th Century. My association with Mr. Shaw included opportunities both as a chorus member and as a soloist, and he taught me many things, not the least of which was the importance of commitment. My favorite Robert Shaw quote was when he said “we make a difference in our yard of space and inch of time.” He was suggesting that we need to be fully involved and dedicated to our work wherever we are, while understanding that anything we accomplish is but a part of a much larger whole.
I consider it one of the greatest privileges and honors of my life to have been able to make music with MOS for twenty years, and I now look forward with joyous anticipation to many more years doing the same, perhaps not twenty, but then again, perhaps more than twenty! After all, conductors enjoy some of the longest life spans of any profession. Still, there is one thing of which you can be assured – for as long as I have the opportunity to live and work in my “yard of space and inch of time” I will seek to serve the art of choral music with and through this beloved chorus that has given so much to me.
Filed under: Choral experiences | Tagged: atlanta symphony orchestra, conductors, Gala, Michael O'Neal, robert shaw, The Michael O'Neal Singers | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 2, 2009 by Michael
As 2009 begins many in the arts community are wondering about the future of performing arts organizations. The concern is that in these troubling economic times support for the Fine Arts will begin to falter and ensembles will begin to fail. Sadly, this has already begun to happen to some established groups around the country. As people have less discretionary income, there will be less money directed to donations and ticket sales. While this is a realistic concern, and all of us involved in the performing arts must carefully examine our operating budgets to make sure we are spending our money wisely, I suggest that there is another thought that should also be receiving our careful attention. It is this. At times of national stress and turmoil, I believe that is when we need the Arts the most. I remember Leonard Bernstein’s comment following John F. Kennedy’s assassination that the New York Philharmonic would respond to violence by “making music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” Robert Shaw often suggested that the Arts were not an option for our society, but actually the best hope for humankind.
If we truly believe that the Arts, and specifically choral music, make a positive difference in a changing and often frightening world, we need to be prepared to show the positive difference in every way we can. Instead of spending all our time bemoaning the terrible economic possibilities that may lie ahead, let us spend at least an equal amount of time reminding ourselves and others what value the Arts bring to our lives. I contend that if ever there were a time for us to be singing, it is now.
Filed under: Choral experiences | Tagged: arts, arts community, choral music, fine arts, positive difference, singing | 1 Comment »