On Thursday, September 15th at 2:00 PM, all of the little inner-choir-nerds came seeping out of the crowd of students who had begun lining up outside of the Berk Recital Hall an hour before. A tall, distinguished man with flowing golden hair cut through the mob, and a collective shriek of excitement rolled along within the crowd like a wave, making its way from the back to the front of the line, and then exhaling a swooning sigh of disbelief when he entered the hall.
Who was this rock star?
Eric Whitacre, of course.
As members of the only classical choir here at Berklee, of course Creppies took over almost the entire first two rows, shaking with excitement. It was known, with no communication whatsoever needed, that each of us had a special connection to this composer that completely revolutionized the face of modern choral music. As he spoke of his pieces—Lux Aurumque, Alleluia, When David Heard, A Boy and a Girl, October, Cloudburst—little cheers and breaths of excitement were heard in the audience (mostly from us). When he mentioned some of pieces that Crepusculum has performed in the past—Water Night, Enjoy the Silence—fond looks of reminiscence were shared between members. We listened to him talk about his compositional process, conducting experience, education, setbacks, family, and general advice to us, a room full of students (and fans) entering the very same world that he has been so successful in. It was a true learning experience.
However, the best part came in the Q&A section at the end. Students got the chance to ask Whitacre their own questions. A few of our very own members got the chance to have a conversation with him during this section! But the real surprise came when one of our bravest members, Jarred Hahn, popped out from the very back row with a simple request: “Eric, its always been a dream of mine to be conducted by you in a performance of ‘Sleep.’ Do you think… maybe at the end… we could make that happen? Can we sing for you?”
In that moment, everyone drew a breath, eagerly waiting for a response to a question that suddenly made “The Dream” sound realistic. Sure enough, ten minutes later, a copy of Whitacre’s most renowned choral piece was projected on a screen, and the audience was being conducted by the composer himself. Needless to say, it was a balanced mix of singing and sing-crying. It was truly a powerful experience, because as great as it is to listen to one of the greats talk about music, the purest connection between two musicians will always be music. We got to experience an unparalleled connection that day, and I’m certain it will not be quickly forgotten by anyone who was a part of it.