The Crossing rehearsed my Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus for the first time in The Icebox at Crane Arts yesterday. The space is a huge, very high-ceilinged plain white rectangle that was, so I am told, a meat locker. (Why on earth did a meat locker need to be so big, especially so tall? Were they storing cuts of dinosaur meat? Godzilla fillets?) The room is unusually resonant; cut off a loud chord, and you will still be listening to it 6 or 7 seconds later. It takes a little getting used to when you first hear the choir in there, especially if the music is something other than slow. Crossing Music Director Donald Nally wisely moderated the tempo in the faster portions of my piece, and I think the unavoidable – and in some passages desirable – blurring of the sound will not be a problem. The separation of the two choirs in my piece worked well, with the quartet and main choir on either side of the room across the shallow dimension. I take it the audience will be between the two groups.
The musicianship of The Crossing’s members is quite extraordinary, and the many short solos in my piece are being beautifully handled. Donald Nally is a highly efficient, meticulous conductor whose sympathy for the piece is apparent at every moment. I’m deeply grateful for everyone’s efforts. I hope to see you at this Saturday’s performance: June 28, 7 pm, Crane Arts, 1400 N. American Street, Philadelphia.
A few informal shots from rehearsal: