I gave my last exam and published final grades today, finishing off my first year of college teaching. I love what I do, and am humbly grateful to my students for the privilege of teaching them. That said, I’m glad there will never again be a First Year. I’m ready to start improving on the framework we built this time around.

Tonight, free of any responsibilities involving grading or class prep, I flipped on a St. Olaf concert from 2009. In two semesters of leading music and teaching music, you’re trying to instill vision and steer musical interpretation in others, and your own musical sponge starts feeling a little dry. So it’s good to get away and hear someone else. There’s something recalibrating about justlistening.

While I’m not a huge fan of late Romantic lit., I am in awe of a good portion of choral music from the late 19th and early 20th century. There was an aesthetic of conciseness and an attention to inner voice leading across genres (think Eric Thiman, Roger Quilter, F. Melius Christiansen, Durufle, etc.) that made for a solid, understated style. St. Olaf certainly performs a wide range of literature, but I associate this kind of choral writing with them, an association which might be the product of their Lutheran heritage (or, granted, of my own imagination).

This concert is rich, from the opening arrangement of “How Can I Keep from Singing” and Mendelssohn’s Ehre sei Gott to Georg Schumann’s How Great Are Your Wonders and the Durufle Ubi Caritas. It’s all good.

Turn up the speakers. Listen quietly. Refill the sponge.