Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Guest Blog Post #1: Nick Vacarro

Today's blog was written by LCA singer Nick Vaccaro. I am so thankful for his contribution to the organization as a singer, supporter, and now blog poster! Jason Horner, LCA Artistic Director

Nick Vaccaro, Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Last September I returned to choral singing after about a break of about 20 years. I feel fortunate to have found (thanks to member Dorothy Ramsey)  the Lincoln Choral Artists as a vehicle for doing that.

One of the main reasons that I’ve felt an immediate connection to  LCA is the very broad and eclectic repertoire that we’ve explored. Over the past year, we’ve sung music ranging from Thomas Tallis and Heinrich Isaac to James Taylor and Pat Benatar.   I haven’t loved everything that we’ve sung -  but I’ve liked most of it, loved a lot of it, and learned from all of it.

So, why do I think that performing such a wide range of music is a good thing?
 It isn’t always a good thing. Juxtaposing or combining different styles of musical expression can sometimes produce strange results, and musicians sometimes struggle to do justice to music that falls outside their comfort zone.
All the same, I’ve found that an openness to stretching or crossing musical boundaries has made my musical life a lot richer -  both as a performer and a listener.

Here’s one example. In 2007, I finished graduate school and came to Nebraska. Before I’d made much in the way of social connections here,   I found myself with a lot of alone time when not working.  I also had a melodica (an instrument I’d started playing the previous year), and had recently come across a number of interesting musical performances on a new website called YouTube. So, I decided to pass some time by recording MIDI-accompanied renditions of whatever music that I thought I could make sound decent on the melodica. And that eventually turned out to be… a lot of different things, drawn from a range of musical genres even broader than the programming for LCA’s last season.

The videos are still up on YouTube – all in vintage 240 pixels, but with sound quality good enough that I can go back and watch them fondly from time to time.

Teaching myself to play every one of those (very different) songs was a challenge and a thrill in its own way. The feeling of playing an Aretha Franklin favorite is different from the feeling of playing a Robert Schumann favorite; not better or worse, but different in a way that’s worth experiencing.

LCA seems like a great place to pursue more of that sort of exploration. I look forward to seeing where we’ll go next.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Refreshment, relaxation (maybe), and just a changed in schedule

I love my job with the Lincoln Choral Artists. I love the music we make, the community we build, and the joy we share in singing together. But I am also happy to be in a moment of repose from the the weekly schedule of rehearsal and upcoming performances.

I have spent sometime this week discussing with colleagues, singers, and LCA leadership what is coming soon. But I have also been reflecting on my own need to relax/ refresh in this period of down-time. I don't really know if relax is the right word. That's not really something in my wheel house. But my fiancé Hillary and I went to a baseball game last night. I'm planning a solo motorcycle trip to western Nebraska in mid-June. And Hill and I will make a quick trip up Minnesota to celebrate babies and weddings with family.

But I think the biggest thing that helps me wrap up and move into this season of reflection is simply the change in schedule. Not so many evening rehearsals, not so many work and performance demands, and time to engage my thoughts and hopes for the future. I am exciting about the return of the new season with Lincoln Choral Artists. I am also going to enjoy my time now as I prepare for that return.