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Memorial service details have been finalized for David Griggs-Janower, the founding choral director of Albany Pro Musica, who died on Sunday at the age of 60.
Family and friends will gather from 4 to 7 p.m. this Thursday August 29th at the First Reformed Church, 8 North Church St., Schenectady.
A memorial celebration will follow at 11 a.m. Friday August 30th at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 30 2nd St., Troy.
Read full details here.
SPECIAL PROGRAM NOTE: WMHT 89.1FM will be airing a special commemorative program about David Griggs-Janower this Saturday (8/31) night at 6p (repeated Monday (9/2) night at 8p). It will feature a number of performances of Albany Pro Musica from the past few years.
Listen online at: http://www.wmht.org/radio/classical/listen-live/
It is with heavy hearts that Albany Pro Musica announces the passing of Founding Artistic Director and Conductor, David Griggs-Janower. It is impossible to quantify the impact he had on thousands of musicians over his 30+ year career. David’s generous support of students, musicians and colleagues forged strong arts bonds not just here in the Capital Region, but throughout the choral world. David, you were a light. We will miss you terribly. Our thoughts go out to Paige, Katy and Michael and the rest of the Janower family.
Click the picture above to visit David’s memorial page on the APM website.
As Albany Pro Musica enters a period of transition, you’re going to be seeing some new faces on the conductor’s podium. This season, we are delighted and excited to welcome three talented and highly esteemed conductors. Click the picture above to read more about these wonderful conductors!
One APM singer will be featured on the cover of this year’s brochure – who will it be? Put your guess in the comments on our facebook page – one guess per person please. We’ll choose a winner at random from all the ‘correct’ comments submitted before Labor Day. Winner gets a FREE SEASON SUBSCRIPTION to APM (value $100). Note – the picture above is NOT taken from the actual cover – there’s no use guessing who’s under the question mark!
There was a really interesting article in the BBC about choir singing, and how heartbeats synchronize when singing in unison – just another way singing is good for you!
[ed note: On March 8th, our conductor Dr. David Griggs-Janower suffered a major stroke shortly after surgery. Please see our official press release regarding his condition.]
~ by APM tenor, Jonathan Hansen
On December 14, 2012, the country was rocked by the elementary school massacre in Newtown, CT. The national news is always filled with horrible stories of awful people doing awful things. But I am sure we can all remember how this one felt different. So many of us experienced a sense of profound loss in the days and weeks to follow, as if a part of ourselves had been taken with the lives of those small children and educators.
That was a Friday. The following two days, on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, Albany Pro Musica performed its annual Christmas concerts. Our music-making that weekend was all at once fitting and unfitting. On the one hand, APM is a performing ensemble, Christmas was coming, and we did what we do — sing. On the other hand, many performers (and I am certain many audience members) were locked within their own minds that weekend, trying to process what had happened and work through the intense emotions of the moment.
The day after our concerts, still reeling from the headlines, we received our typical post-concert email from our conductor. It was a long email, discussing what worked well in the concerts and what didn’t work as well, and thanking the various “parts” of APM that always have to work together to put on a successful concert – the chorus, the soloists, the instrumentalists, the box office workers, the ushers, etc.
And then, near the bottom of the email, was this:
“Thank you for singing not only with such glowing tone – your tone really is superb! – and unanimity of purpose, but especially for your heart. Clearly this has become more and more important to me over the years. I don’t mean to make either too much or too little of this, but many of us on stage and in the audience desperately needed the solace of this concert.”
I went back and re-read this email from David recently and marveled at this paragraph in particular, for a few reasons. First, it may be the only paragraph he has ever written in an email without a typo in it. Second, I found it instructive as I try to figure out for myself how to continue in APM without David at the helm. After all, for the past 17 years, since I was 17 years old, I have been singing choral music under his direction and his guidance. And singing under David’s leadership isn’t just about making the best music you can. It is also about the way in which you make that music. Singing for David requires a deference to his approach – his philosophy – regarding what constitutes superior musicianship. And because I have sung under his (and only his) direction my entire adult life, that philosophy has played an extremely prominent role in shaping my own concept of what great musicianship is.
So David’s thoughts on APM’s performance amid the national sorrow and confusion following Newtown seems relevant to me, as we are now facing the daunting task, as an ensemble, of continuing to make music despite our deep personal sorrow and confusion caused by his absence from the podium. And the challenge of doing this, as David noted in his post-concert email, was how not to make too much of it, but also not too little of it. How do we acknowledge our sorrow and our confusion without letting it overwhelm us to the point that we are no longer effective musicians? For David, the answer was for us to sing with unanimity of sound and purpose, and with heart, and to allow the music to fill the spaces that remain when words fail.
I will honor this philosophy, not because it is David’s, but because it has become mine. I can’t claim to know what David would have wanted us to do in this situation. But what I can do is use his words as my guide, as I have so many times in the past, to help define what constitutes superior musicianship under these difficult circumstances.
So as we begin rehearsals for our next concert, I pledge to my fellow singers that I will neither make too much, nor too little, of the dreadful events that have brought us to this point. I will work with each of you to achieve unanimity of sound and unanimity of purpose. Finally, I will sing with heart, as I am sure you will as well. I will engage in the music, and with the music, and let it fill the deep, desolate spaces that remain.
And we will go forward together, though the path ahead is uncertain, because our quest for superior musicianship defines us, and is unceasing.
~by Albany Pro Musica tenor, Mike McCord
At the core of what we do, we try to make people happy. While this sounds like an oversimplification (because it is), it remains accurate. A mistaken audience member might think we live for the applause at the end of a concert. In fact, we live for the moment right before that; the moment of silence after we’ve finished singing and before the audience claps. It’s incredibly brief, but incredibly important.
It’s in that moment that we know if our concert is a success. It’s the moment of silence as the audience considers what they’ve heard, and finally and wholeheartedly react. It is incredible, ineffable, and important.
But these moments are not limited to that infinitesimal silence. There are countless moments you do not get to see. The moments of awe and passion from our high school apprentices as they perform in front of thousands of people; the words of thanks from the Sisters of Saint Joseph normally confined to hospital rooms who are able to experience our holiday concert; the simple joy of an audience member with tears in their eyes.
In this holiday season, we ask for your help to carry on these moments. We ask you to continue to support Albany Pro Musica as we strive to provide that silent joy, the moment that precede the rapturous applause as we fulfill the mission of our organization.
From everyone in the Albany Pro Musica family to everyone in yours, we wish you a very Happy Holiday. We look forward to seeing you at our next concert. We’ll sing just for you…
Your tax-deductible donation to Albany Pro Musica can me made by clicking this link. We thank you for your support!
~~by Albany Pro Musica soprano, Tess TorreggianiIt’s my creative outlet. Since graduating from The College of St. Rose with a degree in music education, although I make music every day with my students, I missed being on the stage myself. I was a vocal major, and loved performing. I was in every group I could fit into my schedule: Chamber Singers, Vocal Chamber Ensemble, Madrigal singers, Opera workshop, Masterworks Chorale, Wind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble (I play the French Horn.) I missed making great, higher level music. To go from all of that to nothing was hard; it feels like a part of yourself has gone missing. A few of my friends were already singing with APM at this point and they suggested I join. I had apprenticed with APM when I was a senior in high school. At first, I was concerned I was too busy and couldn’t take on the extra rehearsal time, but then I decided that a musical outlet was something I really needed. It ended up helping me both personally and at work, too!
For me, a connection to the audience is vital. We would be nothing without them. The thrill I get from standing on stage and effectively communicating with an audience is tangible and electric. It’s what I missed so much from undergrad. It’s what takes us from note perfect rehearsals that may lack energy to awe-inspiring performances that speak to people on such a level it brings them to tears. Being able to make this connection with an audience does two things for me: It fulfills a desire that I have to perform and make incredible music, and it helps me to convey that same connection to my students. Coming in to work after a great rehearsal or concert, I find that I carry over a lot of the energy from the day before to my job.
APM does so many things for me. Many people ask me,” Why, when you’re so busy at work and graduate school would you want to go to rehearsal every Tuesday night? Don’t you just want to go home and relax?” But I find rehearsal rejuvenating and fun. Sure, it’s hard work, but I like the work. It’s almost therapeutic. I can block out anything else bothering me during the day and just focus on music-making. I like working toward a common goal with others. Some people wind down watching tv, reading a book… I love to sing and to create music. That’s my down time.
Tess lives in Albany with her husband Ken among stacks of graduate level music texts and teaches Pre-School through 8th grade general music and chorus at The Albany Academies.