I start rehearsals for the Christmas cantata this weekend. While this will not be my first time on the podium, it does represent a new challenge for me as a conductor. This will be my first attempt at conducting from the piano.
In my previous stints conducting the church choir, I have always used tracks. It is not that I prefer pre-recorded music to live instruments; I have simply never had a good experience directing another pianist. Using a recorded soundtrack is not a possibility this year; the cantata chosen is thirty years old and no track is available.
I have never had the good fortune to hire a first-rate pianist. I think that would be an amazing experience that I hope to one day enjoy. I know how I want passages phrased and executed by the pianist and expect them to conform to the vision of the conductor. Those pianists I have conducted in the past refused to do so either in an effort to promote their own agenda or to camoflauge their lacking abilities.
In my current situation, most of the amateur pianists in the congregation are personal friends that I treasure. Rather than placing unnecessary strain on a relationship, I am opting to avoid the situation. Some question whether I will be able to effectively lead the choir. I admit that there will be challenges, but I also must admit that it is one of the few aspects about this year's cantata about which I am excited. I also think that executing my own vision for the accompaniment from the piano in each rehearsal may provide some additional security for the singers. If nothing else, the experience will give me some thought-provoking material for future blogs!