Last night I officially met the Fourth Presbyterian choir and had my first rehearsal with them. I don’t start until October 9, but the Wednesday before that is supposed to be a celebration of the tenure of Dr. Kyser, and it would have been awkward for me to follow that with a rehearsal.
Ramon Kyser has been at Fourth for 34 years – that’s an incredible amount of time. The choir cannot remember having sung for anyone else, so for someone new to step in can be intimidating. This is especially so for someone of the calibre of Dr. Kyser. Needless to say, I wanted to make sure that this first rehearsal went perfectly.
As I became stressed in preparation, Laura and I had some beneficial discussions about the role of an interim, especially when the previous director has been there for a long time, and this is what we came up with…
- Be the opening act for the new person – I will not compromise musically, but neither will I plan huge productions with orchestra, etc. This isn’t the time, and I’ll leave it for whomever comes after.
- Get the choir accustomed to change – this is probably the most important, and most difficult task, especially when someone has been there as long as Ramon. We all get set in our ways, and it doesn’t hurt to have someone different come along with new (albeit not necessarily better) ideas. I have to deal with Ramon’s 34 years of doing things. The permanent director will only need to deal with my few months of meddling.
- Provide continuity – This might seem contradictory, but the congregation and choir need to be reassured that the music program will not lag or falter. This can be done even while introducing new ideas.
The rehearsal went smoothly, and I fell right into the rehearsal pattern as if I had never left. I’ve still got a ton of planning to do, and I’m sure things will be different when I have an entire rehearsal to myself and Dr. Kyser is not present. This seems to be a good group of people, and even if I do have some opening falters, I think we will get along fine.