Sweden: Stockholm and semifinals

It has been a full day. This morning we had to pack and be ready to leave right after breakfast. Thanks to the generosity of several organizations (Gehrmans publishing, swedish music information center, and rikskonserter) my luggage is overflowing with music and recordings and even an old Eric Ericson video on DVD. I could hardly zip up my suitcase much less carry it down the stairs.

Before we left Uppsala we were given a peek into some of the manuscripts stored in the library. I need to check into the tablature notation used in some particularly the Duben collection. We also saw an early polyphonic work that Taruskin cited as an example of "Viking harmony" in his history of western music. It is inspiring to see these ancient texts and feel some connection to music lineage. It makes me want to go to Paris and see the Faure Requiem manuscripts in person all the more. This library has an impressive and unique collection. Who would have known? I want to learn more.

Today all six semifinalists conducted the same choir. They all started with Brahms Warum ist das Licht gegeben. This work reaches the deepest part of me. I can imagine how taxing it was to sing it six times (alongside all of the other repertoire no less). And it does help the observers make comparisons. Of course some things are more taste than right/wrong. I certainly appreciated the many good qualities in each person's work. I do have my favorites chosen as well as my guesses for the jury's picks, but tomorrow is another day (with another set of pieces to perform).

I did receive feedback from two of the jury. It's hard to subject myself to a stranger's assessments over something about which I care so much, but it does begin to offer a picture of the view "from the outside." I am not sure I can summarize yet withou a few more conversations and more thought but I have been reaaly surprised by what I am hearing.

What a difficult art this is and how do I love a challenge.