I love the image of mending nets. Traditionally, there are times when fishermen take a break from catching fish and remain on shore. One those days, they do things that might seem unimportant but turn out to be essential. This could take place on rainy days, or in a season when fish are not so plentiful.
“Mending our nets” is also a metaphor for a fallow season, long or short. This could be the time to rest a field from crop planting, or it could just be an hour spent going for a walk instead of doing work. A personal Sabbath can accomplish a similar breathing-in and breathing-out on a weekly basis. Early in 2017 I decided to pursue the practice of a personal Sabbath, and I’ve been about 80% successful in doing this. I relish that down-time now. I’m grateful to Paul Nicholson, the gifted music director at St. Clement Parish in Lincoln Park, for inspiration to make that restfulness a priority.
In both the Encore choirs and Chicago a cappella, we’re now at that point in the yearly cycle where it feels like we’re mending our nets. Just last night we were auditioning singers for a few holes in the CAC roster for next season. Like net-mending, auditions are a required activity for maintaining a strong ensemble. It’s been a few years since we did an intense “round 2” audition, where the candidates in a particular voice part get together and sing in painstakingly nerdy combinations of two and three voices to see what constitutes the best vocal blend. I’m also getting ready for a research trip to Poland, to stock the pond of CAC’s repertoire with music from a culture that’s largely new to our group. I’m also putting together several new programs for 2017-18, some more collaboratively and some more down the “Jonathan rabbit-hole.”
Not Exactly Summer Vacation
With Encore too, I have a to-do list that feels like it’s a mile long. However, I mostly have the next 4 weeks off from rehearsals and concerts. There’s much-needed room in the brain to think about other things. It’s a nice variation from worrying how I’m going to get from Hyde Park to Arlington Heights on a Wednesday (train or car?) or how to fit 138 people on stage at Fourth Pres.
There are many back-end tasks to do, such as finishing up the demo CD tracks and selecting repertoire for the fall and spring shows. Then there’s the big push to fund and launch the Alzheimer’s choir in February. Still, I do enjoy the chance to breathe a bit more. I am enjoying the extra time with Sandy, to kick ideas around, to set and juggle and reset priorities, to dream and envision our next steps. I’m not much of a homebody and am a pretty off-the-scale extrovert; still, it does feel good to do this. It’s a tonic for my soul, a balm in Gilead of sorts.
It’s been a long time since my work cycle has felt this much like a school year. I like it. Starting in June, having two weekly rehearsals of Encore Rocks and the Tuesday sight-singing class feels like it will create a pace like summer school. There is plenty to do, but with room to continue to mend nets and breathe. (Sandy and I have been saying for months now, “Oh, it will be so good when the summer comes, since we’ll be able to _____.” We are also aware that we have filled in the blank with far more things than we’ll actually be able to finish, but it’s good for both of us to dream.)
May we all mend our nets with joy.