First of all, there is no easy music – but there is definitely a scale of technical difficulty.
As a choir member, I’ve sung the Schubert Holy Holy Holy, and Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna, and they’re nowhere near one another on the singing the right notes at the right time spectrum. As a soloist I’ve sometimes had to sight read on the gig – but I once spent 6 months just learning the notes in my husband Richard’s song cycle for soprano – Changing Illusions.
What I mean by Easy Music is music that is well within the technical scope of the group. And the benefit of choosing to sing this level of music is that the piece can then rise far, far above the ordinary presentation of right notes, with a few dynamics tacked on at the last rehearsal.
When the notes are not difficult for the singers, all the things we’ve been reading about on this blog are possible. Gorgeous tone, locked and ringing chords, emotional intensity, forward motion, physical involvement – a stunning performance from before the first note, till after the last.
These are the performances that audiences remember for years – not the ones where the sopranos sang most of the top notes in tune, or the basses sang almost up to tempo, or where the choir looked vaguely interested most of the time.
Anything that is not exquisite is a distraction for the audience.
However, quite apart from what this does for an audience, the level of physical, mental and emotional focus required for great artistry brings our attention to the present moment. Artistry cannot happen while our minds are in the past or the future. Everything must be right now, right now, right now. And as our spiritual leaders have been telling us for many centuries, the present moment is where joy is found.
Experiencing joy is the best reason I can think of to do this work.