It’s been a long time, but I’m back! This blog will be home to occasional reflections and stories from my tour with Northern Harmony.

With tour starting in three days, I’m preparing: polishing my packing list, getting last-minute advice, and trying to cultivate an emptiness in myself. I want to be open to the new friends, new music, and new experiences that will soon come my way. But there is also an emptiness I already have that I wish to preserve. This is the emptiness of someone encountering our repertoire for the first time.

Our leaders, Patty and Larry, have just sent out recordings of the pieces we’ll be singing on tour. I’m never heard any of these pieces before. As I listen to each of these pieces for the first time, I try to record what moments speak to me. Why do I do this? So that after I have rehearsed these pieces for hours and know them like the back of my hand, I can return to my notes and remember what seemed dramatic or poignant to a first-time listener.

It’s too easy to forget that while performers may know their music, the audience generally doesn’t. And since I believe that performing is about communicating with an audience, a performer has to remember what it is like to not know. So how can a performer, whose hearing of the music is overlaid with memories from rehearsal and a knowledge of the piece’s trajectory and concerns about vocal production, forget all of that – and shape something that is beautiful in its continuing incompleteness, as it unfolds, measure for measure?

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