The last year has brought about such unique conversations and inquiries about the world of music that my tastes have really run the full gamut. One of the recordings that has brought me such comfort during this time has been Bach’s Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen with Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe, Mark Padmore and Carolyn Sampson. The first movement also happens to be the opening to a new work by an emerging American composer Damien Geter for his Cantata for a More Hopeful Tomorrow which I commissioned with The Washington Chorus.
I must be honest and say that I have also had Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed (performed by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club) on repeat during this time as my own personal way of coping with the death of George Floyd and others this summer. I find his piece to be calming and challenging as we all process the unfolding of so many issues of race and inequity in our world. If you don’t know his amazing work, I encourage you to find a quiet place and give it a listen.
I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention how inspired I have been by Elena Urioste’s response to Covid-19 and her amazing #UriPosteJukeBox. She and her husband, pianist Tom Poster, recorded To The Spring, an amazing CD on Orchid Classics earlier this year, which led me to find out more about her. She is such an amazing artist and human being, and this recording and their JukeBox have been the inspiration, laughter and beauty I have also needed during this time.
I absolutely love current affairs podcasts. I find myself often going back and forth between several important news voices, but recently I have been completely engrossed by NPR’s 1A Podcast which features their new host, the amazing Jenn White. ‘1A convenes a conversation about the most important issues of our time. The show takes a deep and unflinching look at America, bringing context and insight to stories unfolding across the country and the world.’ I find Jenn to be direct, clear, compassionate, and completely engaging. 1A and Jenn White are definitely worth your time.
Working as artistic director and conductor of three amazing organisations (The Washington Chorus, The University of Michigan, and Sphinx Organization’s EXGIENCE Vocal Ensemble) requires me to be more organised and on top of things than I usually would be at a time like this. This summer, I discovered an AMAZING resource and inspiring book by James Clear, titled Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. I’m inspired by his story, and he has challenged me to really think about my paradigms and routines.
I’m sure all of us have watched more TV and movies than we could have imagined four months ago. I have to say that my absolutely favourite shows during this time have been Just Mercy, a powerful film about Bryan Stevenson and his work with men on Death Row; a BBC show called Grantchester about a vicar and a copper who solve murder mysteries (a bit unrealistic, but I just love the characters and setting); and Ozark, which is definitely not to be watched if you don’t want to be hooked on a series, but it is well worth the Netflix hours if you want a fast-paced and exhilarating drama.
- Watch Just Mercy on Amazon Prime, NowTV, YouTube and Google Play
- Watch Grantchester on ITV, Amazon Prime and Google Play
- Watch Ozark on Netflix
Sadly my partner and I aren’t really the best cooks, but we have been completely sold by our amazing experience with the Home Chef delivery service. It has been our saving grace, and we have loved making their recipes together. If you’re like us and you want a good home-cooked meal without the effort of doing all of the shopping and choosing a recipe, then Home Chef is a sure way to go.