Kenneth Elpus, Storyteller
KENNETH ELPUS, Assistant Professor of Music Education, UMD School of Music
I was directing a choir of high school students in rehearsal of a contemporary piece called A Boy and A Girl by Eric Whitacre, which is an English translation of a poem by Octavio Paz.
…working with young voices, college age and even younger, is such a magical experience.
It’s the story of a lifelong love affair between a boy and a girl who start out very young; in four verses, the piece goes all the way through their life together to when they’re dead and lying next to each other underground. The composer sets the end of the piece as just humming: The two lovers are no longer alive yet their love still exists beyond death.
I remember talking with the singers about the meaning of the poem, not really telling them what I thought but asking them what they thought was going on. And they immediately picked up on it.
Adolescents — they’re emotional. They connect with music in a way that sometimes I think adults forget. That’s why I think working with young voices, college age and even younger, is such a magical experience. Those young singers instinctively understood what the piece meant and the next run-through we did was probably one of the most musical experiences I’ve ever had in my life. And it was in the rehearsal hall.