L'art du chant

Balaban
My first real deal conducting teacher was Samuel Jones who is still going strong in Seattle and at the time of his leaving my musical life, was on his way to the Eastman-Rochester Symphony.  I was on my way to college and then to NY for doctoral work. 

I had a chance to do some of it at Julliard but needed a letter from Dr. Jones to "get in" which he did and I got in and landed in Emanuel Balaban's conducting classes.  I was scared to death.  Balaban was a big name, a conductor's conductor,  and the new director of the Met, Gentile, was hiring him to be part of Met Opera's conducting pool (sadly, Gentile was killed in a car crash before this took effect).

I liked him a lot.  He was a good and gentle man only prone to a few tantrums here and there.  He let me into his private studio of students and I would rush into the city to get to my lesson with him, go with him to a light dinner, and on to his class at Julliard.  It was pretty heady stuff and my Mondays and Thursdays, from 4-10pm were what memories are made of.

I was thinking about him some yesterday as I ran into a box of music scores that we covered my first year with him.  One was the piece below, a Vocalise by Rachmaninoff.  A vocalise is a "vocal warm up piece" in an early form and it grew to an independent form, usually a singer and piano or orchestra, often with no words...just the "ahhh" sound.

Mr. Balaban had written his own once upon a time and he showed it to me and we played/sang it.  He admitted it was no Rachmaninoff.  But he was also quick to add, "but what is?". 

Enjoy.  It is wordless and translates perfectly.


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