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February 02, 1975 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1975-02-02

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Sundoy, February 2, 1975


Doge Five

Sunday, February 2, 1975 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five

____ ____ ____ ___PRO FILE

Join The Daily Staff

A conductor's
for the spirit

GET THERE, pull back
the heavy double doors at the
front of the church, start up the
curving stairway and keep
climbing. Climb past the sanc-
tuary, past the numerous large
and sunny rooms, up over the
choirloft that is relieved from
darkness only by the daylight
filtering through w i n d o w s of
stained glass.
Donald Bryant, conductor and
director of the University Musi-
cal Society, waits in the door-
way at the end of the hall.
Into a room dominated by the
blackness of an opened piano
and a glass-enclosed bookcase
protecting a library of oratorio
scores. Choir robes in rich col-
ors hang one after another on
long racks.
Bryant teaches the children's
choir of the First Presbyterian
Church here. There's a rehear-
sal in less than an hour.
"I do spread myself thin in
some respects," he says regret-
fully as he settles into a chair.
IT'S THE understatement of
the year. Bryant serves as the
church's Director of Music in
addition to his work as the con-
ductor and director of the Uni-
versity Choral Union, Festival
Chorus, coordinator of the an-
nual May Festival Concerts and
staff member of the School of
Music. When he has some
"blocks of time" he is com- !
poser, pianist and vocalist.
University students know him
best as the director of the!
Choral Union's annual Messiah
concerts. Mention Handel and
his eyes light up brighter than
any church candles. "Absolute-
ly glorious! The king-the move-
ment of the vocal parts fit to-
gether hand in glove. It's like the
work of the great craftsmen.
There's magnificent stonework
found in Peru-I've never seen

it, but I'm told that it is so per-
fectly crafted that it is impos-
sible to even fit a razor blade
between the stones. Messiah's{
like that."
He sees the oratorio ultimate-
ly falling into place almost with-
out his efforts or tht efforts
of his singers. "With the Baro-
que-once you get started-it'
almost sings itself. The notes
are known in this composition.1
I have to get to 'he spirit be-
hind it. The entire work must be
lifted off the ground."
The lifting up or inspiration of

f music
clear andi understood."
OBVIOUSLY no easy task and
no one knows it better than
Bryant. 'If I am a cisciplinar-
ian, a pet fectionist, the disci-
pline grows out of I w- It's not
super-imposed. Loving music, I
try to expand the scope of my
vision of it and see a:1 the pos-
sibilities that wait behind the
problems. It's such an endless
study. You find the most mar-
velous things. It's fa, the un-
earthing of these things that dis-
cipline brings out. Just this

"Once you get started with Handel's

Messiah, it almost sings itself.


vocal movements fit together like a
hand in a glove. I've heard there's
stonework in Peru done so perfectly
you can't fit a razor blade between

the stones. Messiah's like

that, like

the work of any great craftsman."
":: : r,":::: o:^i:: s" ":, \ti1-i:$ :".".
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about the composer;. and fan- signed with rows of names back
tasized a lot. I saw how my on the mantle with reluctance.
nill life Wo ImItniLCUUULItUWnX

his groups through conducting
is a complex and tenuous thing.
He thinks very carefully as he
explains it, his gaze falling na-
turaly to his hands. "Conduct-
ing is a mystical thing. On one
hand everything must be in
order-rhythm, dynamics, dic-
tion. But then the spit itual has
to take over and the spirit of
the composer must prevail. It's
a little like hypnotism. You at-
tempt to inspire wish motion,
the hands, the face. Some con-
ductors utsr their far.s almost
exclusively to draw out perform-
ers. You raust mak3 everything
beyond the mechanics of music

morning, for example, 1 found
something that finally v orks for
me in a Chopin piece, that helps
in the handling of the hands. I
can't know where the idea came
from, I just have to regin work-
ing it out'
He lo\ es Chopin. LA ves the
entire age, calling himself "an
incurable Romantic' with un-
abashed p-ice.
"That would be the era I'd
have picked to live. You had
Chopir and Liszt and Rossini
and Verdi and Schubert and
Tchaiknvsky. The writers were
magmficent. Byron most espe-
cially: I read a lot as a boy

'Bread and Roses:


through chemistry and sweat

own mie was limiteadbut nowE
it was l~osible to expand. I
wanted to look up to someone
greater tl.an me. I needed to
see 'hat someone else could
pRYANT SPENT b. boyhood!
in Ohio, receiving his early
musical training at Ot trlin. Af-I
ter receiving a degree both in;
music education and cumposi-
tion, le served for four years!
in Worid War II. He then re-
turned to music, taking his
graduate study in piano at Jul-
He spent twenty vei rs as di-'
rector of the Columbus Boy
Choir, traveling the world with
the small group of gfted chil-
dren that included his own two!
sons. In 1969 he came to the?
HlE'LL AGREE he ge's along
with everybody 'sere, except-
ing maybe "those p; o~ple whoI
don't like music," his expres-
sion denying the 3xistence of
such a breed. He finds the trans-.
formation of weary students and
tired townspeople with limited
singing experience into good vo-
calists the most exciting aspectt
of his job.
"I expect a lot of them," he
says, sounding like he means
it, "they can go a long way and
I'm here to train them and en-l
courage them. Any inhibitions
are with me-the teacher-andl
not with my students."
Ultimately, Donald Bryant ist
a teacher. He is almost boyish-
ly eager when he displays the
room f i lI e d with costumes,
paper-mache a n i m a I heads,
bolts of bright fabric and head-
dresses that are the mainstay
of the performances the church
vocal groups give under his di-!
rection. A stone ledge in one
corner of his office supports
cards that children have given
him. "I keep all of them of
course," he says, setting one


"JN TEACHING," he says eag-
erly, "you a r e repeating
something, yes, but you are ap-
proaching it in a new way.
Great things are never old-
they'll bear continual repetition.
Anything can be accomplished.4
It's a known fact that people'
want to develop themselves. We
always grasp out for the un-
known-this is natural."
Leonard Bernstein once told
a television interviewer that
nothing comes instantly except
death" and D o n a I d Bryant
agrees. He 'tells his Choral
Union group that the greatest
of the virtues is tenacity. "You
have to be willing to play a
passage on the piano a thousand
times if that's what's needed.
Keep chipping away at difficul-
ties and you can master them.
So many young artists don't
have this patience and it is ab-
solutely necessary. W it h o u t
groundwork, and without untir-
ing discipline, there is nothing."
"Of course, in teaching, if theE
students are happy, the disci-
pline takes care of itself. After
all, the music is a way of talk-
ing together. It's a very social
HE LEANED near the black-
board filled with chalked
quarter notes and bearing the
legend, "The Bar Line."
"I enjoy music very much."
he said..
It was the understatement of
the year.
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P A N i

(Continued from Page 3)
the impulsive actors were
ing too much fun to put a
to their antics.
All of the songs in the
are taken from the actual
W. songbook and are folks
set to the words of Joe Hill
legendary leaders of the m
ment. Hill's adaption of
classic "Casey Jones" cle
captured the bulk of atten
this night. The quick, rhyth
tune, along with Hill's hum
ous lyrics, conjured up all
of ideas in the active m.
of the cast, and hams
they are, they tried them
Finally, after an exaspera
hour on this one number, M
interjected with a "Let's
on, we'll get it later." Actu
nothing tangible had been
complished throughout
whole furious flurry of c
tive-and nervous-energy.
Nonetheless, it is prec
this super-interaction and
tangible communication ar
cast and crew alike that
form the building blocks
final production. Hall refe
to the development of v
form as a building people
motions, a "collage of bod
which develops through all
disorder and, like a child
a new chemistry set, he
amazed at this human che
try before him. The abilit
"pick up clues from begin
to end" to create a un
whole alienated the poet
playwright from his fam
world and drew him to fore
yet fascinating, ground.
THIS SHIFT in commun
tion was the basis of
directorial direction adopte
Meyer and, to some ext
Hall. Meyer would sit back,
mitting all the spontan
choreography and ad-li
lines to freely flow, acting
to capture that one-in-a-th
andth movement he might
Then, only with the slghtest
turing of the need or a time
for a bit of role-playing, w
he mold the effects he
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sired. the characters tnied in vain to
hav- This gradual shaping became continue thein lines, but time
halt apparent during the final week afteh time the action stopped
of rehearsal. By this time the to correct tne coordination.
show production had moved from the Though major, lighting was
I.W. Trueblood Theater, where the not the only error. The symbol
ongs initial rehearsals had been, to of unionization, flashed on the
, the Power Center, where the final projection screen, would, from
hove- production will be performed time to time, appear upside
the this week. The previously empty down. A hat would be lost, eye-
arly stage was now replaced with glasses misplaced. Throughout
ntion the set, a construction com- it all Meyer quietly noted cor-
hmic prised of two raised platforms rections that were yet to be
dour- on a stairway. Half the cos- made.
sorts tumes appeared on the charac- O MAYBE Donald Hall was
inds ters and half on the hooks at- tach'right - the gap in the pic-
that tached to the platform based. ture will not be fillen until
all. Slides which will flash in lieu Wednesday night. From a seed
ating of scenery were projected on of an idea harping on a man's
eyer all sides of the stage. The light- artistic mind for ten years, to
get ing crew was out in full force, a written script, to a mass
ually The evidence of the meta- chaos, et set, costumes, lines
ac- morphisis was in the atmos- and songs all on one stage, to!
the phere. No longer did the cast the upcoming premier of an
crea- have to be quieted with pleas 1 entirely original work, the
of "This is serious business"; metamorphosis slowly t o o k
isely they knew this was serious busi- place. No one could ever at-
in- ness, as did the newly assem- tempt to categorically list all of
nong bled t e c h n i c i a n s. Ev- I the steps in that transforma-
must eryone knew their places, had tion. Perfection had not been
of a their lines remembered their attained this night, nor would
rred positions. All was set - or so it it be on the following. But
isual seemed. when those final puzzle pieces
with B make their way into the puz-
ies But overnight miracles are zle, the completed picture will
the rare, and the appearance of one have been worth the effort.
with with this production was a de- _
sat lusion. Every other minute a
mis- shout of "HOLD" resounded. DR. PAUL USLAN
y to The largest problem was light- Optometrist
ning ing. No sooner would an ac-
ified tor's lines be heard from stage Full Contact Lens Service
and left than a clear, bright spot- Visual Examinations
iiliar light would appear stage right. 548 Church 663-2476
Wildly chasing their spotlights, __






v , 5
:d by;



a new ploy by Donald Hall

. .
Look Into Co-ops I.
WE ARE ...
* member-owned
" member-controlled
* open & democratic
0 inexpensive
SUNDAY, FEB. 9th-1:00 P.M.
Learn about student-owned housing on
campus. All co-ops will hold open houses
for all those interested in visiting them
after the Mass Meeting.
14 Houses on Central Campus
9 Houses on North Campus
Inter-Cooperative Council


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' 8 ', X75 80L17 ' Y,

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