Brent Baldwin On Brahms

August 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm Leave a comment

brentThis month we spent a little time with Brent Baldwin.  The conductor of Texas Choral Consort is currently in rehearsals for upcoming performances of the Brahms German Requiem.

Your musical tastes seem to run the gamut…from very early to completely new music, and from the church to the concert hall to the club scene. What drew you to the Brahms?

Although it’s a huge monument of the classical canon now, when it was written it really upset some people.  Brahms completely threw out the formula for a Requiem mass; he replaced the Latin texts with German, used the Lutheran Bible and selected his own, very personal, prayers.  He wrote the work in 1867, in the wake of his mother’s passing and there’s an angelic soprano solo that scholars believe he intended as a final farewell to his mother. There’s lots of passion and intensity.

What are the challenges in preparing the Brahms?

This is one of the largest groups I’ve worked with.  We’ll have 140 singers and a full orchestra of 36.  Although we’re blending a chorus of professionals, newbies and seasoned choristers, this is NOT a beginner’s piece.  There’s a great deal of demanding detail, huge dynamic range, and of course, the challenges of polishing and blending the precise vowels of the German text.  And it’s an expansive work.

Seriously, though, you’ve got a lot of musical outlets; what keeps you so involved with choral music?

Being in the center of this is a joy!  I see no contradiction in the juxtaposition of genres…from pop to rock to choral, I like being able to transfer energy and ideas back and forth.  I’m a little bit of an introvert, but when I get to rehearsal and engage with such a spirited chorus, I come out completely recharged and invigorated.

What other exciting projects do you have coming up?

There will actually be a preview of another big project on this program.  Texas Choral Consort is working with Golden Hornet, Fusebox and the Texas Performing Arts on a project we’re calling “Mozart Requiem Undead.”  A group of alt-classical composers are reimagining Mozart’s famous Requiem by writing new movements to replace the ones that Mozart left unfinished at the time of his death!  We’ll preview one movement during the Brahms concert…a world premiere by Caroline Shaw.  She won the Pulitzer Prize for composition in 2013, so collaborating with her is really exciting.

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