Previously known as The Burnt Hills Oratorio Society
The Power of Singing

A note from our Artistic Director Dr. William Jon Gray following performance of Haydn’s “The Creation” on October 22, 2017

“Aren’t we the luckiest people in the world!”

Coming off stage together after the first bow following an exceptionally inspired performance of Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor in Chicago, the great conductor Jane Glover grabbed my hands in hers, and looking me in the eyes, exclaimed: “Aren’t we the luckiest people in the world!”

She was right. It is poignant that often in times that hold the potential for transcendence we need to be reminded how alive we are, and how precious these moments are that we share together. I will always be grateful to Jane for inviting me to be in that moment with her. She is a great musician, a world-class conductor, and an extraordinary human being.

Our performance of Haydn’s “The Creation” last weekend was a complicated undertaking, with many moving parts, and a veritable army of generous and dedicated people working together to make it happen. In Burnt Hills Oratorio Society we are blessed with intelligent and insightful leadership, and with a chorus of singing artists who truly love music and are united in the vocation of sharing that love with the community.

We have all that we need.

The thing that makes us “the luckiest people in the world” is the humanity that is expressed and shared in each interaction, activity, and task, whether it be mastering a difficult musical passage in rehearsal, organizing a donor campaign, marketing the concert, designing a riser set-up that will make it possible for each and every singer to make their best artistic contribution to the performance, or providing for a beautiful reception afterwards to greet our audience.

I wish I had the opportunity to hold hands with each of you and feel together the importance of our being alive together, in the present moment, in music.

I believe this is the message Haydn was trying to speak to us across the two hundred years since he composed “The Creation”. Haydn’s unwavering optimism invites us to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to the beauty and meaning that is always present around us, and to join hands and be present to each other in the miracle of conscious existence. The miracle is that, in the midst of the chaos, noise, and divisions of human life, we find each other in a moment of music that was composed centuries ago. It is in this way, in that shared present moment, that we connect with the creative impulse that coursed so strongly through Haydn’s veins, and which draws us into the continuum of creative energy since the beginning of time.

Where once there was nothing, now there is something. Its meaning exists only in the fleeting moment of its sharing.

“Music has no being unless it is sounded. And every sounding, rehearsal or performance, is the psalmist’s “Sing a new song” – new time, new place, new people, changed even from last night’s rehearsal. And, by the same token, every sounding is also a “swan-song” – this moment’s farewell, this span of time forever past, with its passing accounted in beauty or in error. How special this makes even rehearsals!” Robert Shaw, March 9, 1982

Congratulations on your beautiful performance of Haydn’s “The Creation” last Sunday! It was a privilege to share these moments with each and every one of you. I look forward to our future artistic adventures together!