Five Questions with New TWC Artistic Director Eugene Rogers
SPONSORED CONTENT FROM A CHORUS AMERICA PARTNER
In the upcoming season, The Washington Chorus (TWC) looks not only to meet the challenge of planning in a world dealing with COVID-19, but to do so while welcoming a new incoming artistic director. Eugene Rogers, who takes the artistic helm of TWC while continuing in his role as director of choral activities at the University of Michigan, shared his thoughts with Chorus America on the unique challenges and opportunities ahead for him, his new ensemble, and the choral community.
1) Congratulations on beginning your tenure with The Washington Chorus! Why are you excited for this opportunity to lead one of the most visible and active symphonic choruses in North America?
Eugene Rogers: I am beyond thrilled that I get to continue the amazing legacy of the chorus and look forward to building on the many years of great musicmaking led by my esteemed colleagues for over 60 years. Frankly, I’m in heaven anytime I get the chance to make music with passionate people and having the great honor to do this with The Washington Chorus community is more than I ever imagined.
2) This is a time of so much uncertainty and change. How exactly does one plan for an upcoming season of concerts when there are so many unknowns, and amid so many challenges?
ER: I believe that now is the time, more than ever before, that we have to dig deep and work to find the most unique ways to stay connected to our communities and be true to our mission. Choral music gives us such amazing opportunities to tell powerful stories from many disparate perspectives, and if we can get our singers and stakeholders on board with our dream, we all will find the perfect way forward for our communities.
3) You have a big upcoming announcement sharing the details of your first season as TWC’s artistic director (which is also TWC’s 60th anniversary season). What are one or two unique details about what you’ve planned that you can share with Chorus America?
ER: Since we are all mostly limited to experiencing much of our musicmaking right now digitally, executive director Stephen Marc Beaudoin and I have worked hard to see this as a possibility to have even more artistic collaborations that can be presented in ways we probably wouldn’t have considered pre-COVID-19. Therefore, I am most excited about the premiere of Damien Geter’s Cantata for a More Hopeful Tomorrow in November. The work is based on Bach’s opening choral movement from his Cantata BWV 12, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen and moves from fear to hope using a variety of traditional spirituals and newly composed music and poetry for SATB choir, soprano and cello soloists. The music will be presented in a film, and we partnered with Emmy-Award Winner, Bob Berg, to tell a story through film that will tastefully incorporate The Washington Chorus and soloists, and will highlight the struggle of the pandemic for all; but especially in the Black and Latinx communities.
4) Many choruses are grappling with how to evolve and adapt in this unusual time. What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to another chorus on how to make the most of this moment?
ER: Draw near to your community of thinkers and supporters. We all need each other more than ever, and when we can dream big and think out of the box together, I think great things are possible.
5) What’s one thing you’re doing to continue to foster a sense of community in TWC, even when we’re physically apart?
ER: We recently had a Zoom happy hour and fun-facts evening with the sections, and our next gathering will be an open-mic/karaoke night. I can’t wait to see the creativity and talent within the group.
I also want to send all of my colleagues and friends in Chorus America lots of love and light during this time. Choral conductors are some of the most creative human beings on the planet, and I can’t wait to see and hear all the ways that you will each engage with your individual communities. We can do this. Together.
The Washington Chorus’s 2020-2021 season announcement event, hosted by artistic director Eugene Rogers, will be broadcast via livestream at 5:00pm Eastern on Thursday, July 30. The event will also be available online afterwards for those who are unable to view the original stream. Visit thewashingtonchorus.com for more details.
This article is sponsored by The Washington Chorus. Thank you for supporting the partners that make Chorus America’s work possible. If you are interested in learning more about sponsored articles, please contact us at [email protected]erica.org.