Battle Hymns


So many things to report.  Pardon the radio silence but a confluence of weight gain stress, complicated and high profile concert stress, minor injury stress, and general STRESS formed a brick blogging wall.  But I’m back!  With unreadable run-on sentences and many, many things to share!

I fully realize that the few people who read this blog don’t read it because they’re interested in my classical music career.  Ironic since *at my very best* I’m a mediocre “athlete”.  Singing is my jam and I’d like to share a bit about the major event that kept me from blogging the last couple weeks.

I recently completed the West Coast premiere of  ‘Battle Hymns’ by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lang.  The performances were collaboration between nearly 200 professional, amateur, and child singers and the fantastic Leah Stein Dance Company from Philadelphia.   The piece depicts the civil war through texts by Abraham Lincoln, the famous “Sullivan Ballou” letter, and fragments of songs by Stephen Foster including “Beautiful Dreamer.”  It was an incredibly complex piece to put together but throughout the rehearsal process, we all believed we were creating something very unique and potentially moving.  To our humbling delight, full houses at each of the four performances agreed with us.  Many of my colleagues and friends were unable to articulate their emotional response to the piece but their swollen, tearful eyes said everything.  There were many incredibly emotional moments in the piece, including an extended section where the children’s choir repeats the text “I’ll be a soldier” and suddenly falls dead to the ground.  The dancers swiftly ran to them, helped the children to their feet and escaped the “battlefield.”  I’ll admit that I shed more than a few tears myself the first time I saw them fall.  It was an absolutely incredible experience.

"Tell Me"

“Tell Me”

"A Father's Love"

“A Father’s Love”

Phenomenal dancers.  I got to touch one!

Phenomenal dancers. I got to touch one!

To read more about this work:

San Francisco Chronicle Review

New Music Box Review (with a reeeeeeally awkward close-up shot of ME in profile.)

Executing my training plan during  a tech/performance week of long calls and  performance anxiety (I had a very high and lengthy solo – ACK) was a major challenge.  I’ll tell you more about THAT when I wrap up weeks 3 and 4 of California Sprint Tri training!

Any musicians out there?  Any of my amazing Battle Hymns colleagues reading this and want to come out of the shadows to comment on your experience, MissJessicaIam writingdirectlytoyouinbold!

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6 thoughts on “Battle Hymns

  1. Jenn K says:

    I absolutely loved the performance. It was so moving! I was bummed I couldn’t be in it die to soapy conflicts, but in the end, I was happy I got to enjoy it as an audience memeber.

  2. […]  No idea how it went.  These workouts were the first day of ‘Battle Hymns’ tech week which feels about a million years […]

  3. I’m not a professional musician, but I’m a fairly good amateur singer. The closest I got to “professional” was in boot camp for the Navy; I sang at several graduations in a small choir, and I learned a lot about using my voice as a tool, or instrument, there. 🙂 I played oboe and the piano when I was young, and wish I’d never stopped. I love music, is what I’m saying, and am aware of some of the more technical aspects of it. I think it’s awesome that you’re a professional singer and that you teach others to sing!
    Is there somewhere I can go to read about your non-athletic stuff on the regular? Cause I love reading this blog, and would love to read more!

  4. Jessica says:

    battle hymns was a revelation. As a performer, I found it deeply inspiring on multiple levels: the music is compelling and ranges from austere to visceral, and the texts are beautiful and have a unique historical weight behind them. The singing collaboration between the multiple choirs had a special community vibe – it’s lovely to feel people reaching out of their comfort zones (and that’s in all directions, from beginner towards experts and also professionals towards amateurs), and the kids are stupendous. The multi-disciplinary aspect – working with a choreographer alongside a conductor, working with dancers among the singers – I loved that so, so much. We are were stretching our chosen artforms towards one another and I’d like to think we all expanded because of it. It made me want to dance, act, draw, sculpt – art is art is art!

  5. […] From Google Blogs Search- Worship Music […]

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