Featuring Laura Ritter and her Walters State Chamber Choir
In this episode, I feature Laura Ritter and her Walters State Chamber Choir. I asked students to reflect on why they NEED choir, what it has meant to them to return to singing in our current troubled time, what has created a sense of safety and belonging for them in choir. In the first two years of the show, I have mostly focused on the perspectives of directors. So, I have decided to add another category to the show! STUDENT PERSPECTIVES. After all, it is the experiences for our singers that we are trying to create. They are why we engage in professional development like Podcasts anyway!
“I felt helpless, and I felt sad. That’s when I realized there was a class called choir. I felt myself as family, and was welcomed there.“
Part of the Oxford Series on the Choralosophy Podcast
Join us in this thought provoking and jovial conversation in which Will and I discuss a comparison of the US and UK music education paradigms, his approach to the creative process, and the possible pitfalls of training “sight reading machines.” While this can result in singers with world class ability, it can also result in performances that, at times can lack humanity. We also discuss the influences on his music made by his eclectic listening tastes growing up. How do we stay connected to the humanity in the music making?
English composer Will Todd is well known for his beautiful and exciting music. His work encompasses choral works large and small, opera, musical theatre and orchestral pieces, as well as jazz compositions and chamber works.
His anthem, The Call of Wisdom, was performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with a TV audience of 45 million people. His breakthrough work, Mass in Blue (originally titled Jazz Mass), has been performed hundreds of times all over the world. His arrangement of Amazing Grace was performed at President Obama’s Inauguration Day prayer service in 2013 and as part of the BBC’s Nelson Mandela Thanksgiving Service.
He has collaborated with award winning choirs The Sixteen and Tenebrae, as well as with the Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Opera Holland Park, BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra, The Halle Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, The Bach Choir, St Martin’s Voices.
His discography includes best selling choral discs Lux Et Veritas and The Call of Wisdom, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Mass in Blue, Ode to a Nightingale, Passion Music and Jazz Missa Brevis all on the Signum Classic label. His clarinet concerto recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Emma Johnson was released in 2016His music is regularly broadcast on Classic FM, as well as on BBC Radio 3.
Will Todd’s music is valued for its melodic intensity and harmonic skill, often incorporating jazz colours, and his choral music is much in demand from amateur as well as professional performers.
Recent commissions include an oratorio for The Bach Choir written with former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen and operas for Welsh National Opera and Opera North.
This special episode comes at Podcasting from a bit of a different angle. Enjoy a spot as a fly on the wall while two couples, both comprised of two choral musicians, sit down to discuss the benefits and possible pitfalls of being married to someone who shares your professional sphere. My wife Beth and I welcomed Dr. Jennaya Robison, from the Conservatory at UMKC and Dr. Brett Robison of Viterbo University to join us in our living room for a candid and open sharing of experiences being “Married to the Choir.”
We covered how choral music brought both couples together, how competitiveness can create a challenge in the relationship, how it’s important for us to remember our role as supporter and fan for each other while also wanting honest professional feedback, and much more. We are still all trying to walk this tight rope, but I believe you will find the conversation interesting and engaging.