I was happy and pleasantly surprised when I received an email a few weeks ago from Distinguished Concerts International New York inquiring if I and the Chancel Choir wished to take part in a choral concert at the Lincoln Center in New York City next spring.
What had happened is this production company saw our YouTube video of us singing The Ground by Ola Gjeilo from early last year (scroll to the end of this post to view), and enjoyed the musicality and passion in our rendering. As they are assembling a choir of 150-200 singers nationwide to take part in an Ola Gjeilo concert on March 16, 2020 in Alice Tully Hall, they hoped we would decide to join them. And, of course, we said yes! We have about 20 singers currently signed up for the trip, which will be from March 13-17 and include time to enjoy the city but also stringent rehearsals over the weekend. It is especially pleasing that the composer himself will be present and will be featured on the piano.
While this is just fantastic news and an honor to be selected for and to be a part of, I can't help but to muse on how this reflects on what is happening at Plymouth in general. What I see in the church is grand plans. The scope has always impressed me: vision without overreaching. Growth can be measured in terms of numbers and is the most obvious manner to do so. But creative vision within our means, in my view, even more so. And if the path is not available at the time, have the courage to create one.
For the music program, I see this manifest in several ways. I aspire to provide creative programming ever mindful to the volunteers who graciously give of their time and talents. We currently have one staff singer to support our choral sound and inspire our singers, as well as to be a resource for professional performance. The Plymouth Brass is a professional brass ensemble we are blessed to hear in worship several times each year. The 6pm service offers an evening prayer worship experience with music varied from Celtic and traditional to jazz and gospel. All in all, while our music program will always be supported by the backbone of our wonderful volunteers, there is a professional mindset that propels our offerings, whether it be by professional or experienced participants in our midst, or simply the vision of bringing musical excellence to all the worship services. And always with the intention of service.
So yes, we're going to the Lincoln Center and will have an amazing musical experience in one of the premiere concert venues in the world. But this opportunity is a sign of good things afoot here at Plymouth and I'm glad to be able to mix myself into it.
Director of Music/Organist
Mark Heiskanen has been Plymouth's Director of Music since September 2017. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Mark has experience and great interest in a diverse range of musical styles including jazz, rock, musical theatre, and gospel. He is thrilled to serve a congregation and staff that values diversity and inclusion in all facets of life. Read his mostly-weekly Music Minute here.