I am not very keen on technology. When lockdown began a year ago, and I saw many musicians turn to digital media to continue their music-making, I knew that wasn’t a venue that interested me. It’s not because I don’t enjoy watching performances online; I do that everyday. But, the great wonder of ensemble singing is the of-the-moment communication, both with fellow performers and with the audience. Each individual brings a palpable energy, a resonance within their spirit, and it affects every moment of how the music is produced and felt. That part is completely missing when I record alone in my little studio apartment.
When I heard that Ensemble Altera might be looking for some new voices for summer 2020, I understood that we probably couldn’t perform for a live audience. Yet, we were motivated to employ creative solutions, so that the singers could sing in the same large space. That was enough to pique my interest.
Even with considerable spacing between us, we share precious moments of human connection. A meeting of eyes. Breathing as one. Tones ringing from all around me. Laughter at silly mistakes. Stillness as a final cadence evaporates up toward the sky. We train alone, but music is not for the practice room. It’s a gift that we share. I’m thankful for the members of Altera, who valued the treasure of human connection enough to bear the challenges of a pandemic.
By Olivia Miller, Soprano