Gayle Ober told me that she had to convince Dale Warland to include Pavel Chesnokov's "Salvation is Created" on his final disc. He was reluctant because "everyone sings it." But her argument was while everyone might sing it, no one does as well as The Dale Warland Singers! (Ann Marsden/Courtesy of APM/MPR)
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ST. PAUL, Minn. —
The first time I met Gayle Ober I was auditioning for my job at Classical MPR. She has a beautiful rambling home on a hill in Mendota Heights and as the Director of Classical she invited the entire team over for a late summer party. I wasn't quite yet part of her team, but I felt completely welcomed.
And I still remember that first conversation. It was about singing. How couldn't it be? She has sung all her life - as far back as she can remember - and she also served as the Executive Director of one of the finest choral ensembles to exist, one my singer husband Richard Rasch and I listened to religiously even in Texas, The Dale Warland Singers.
But it wasn't one of those conversations that go like this, "I know so-and-so and sang with such-and so, what about you?" It was warmer and more heartfelt about how great choirs have grabbed us and won't let go, about how certain moments singing in choirs transported both of us to another world, and how even after singing over and over certain pieces of music, we still felt the same delight as though we were listening to that music for the very first time.
On Gayle's playlist includes of course the Dale Warland Singers, but also a brand new piece to me by Chicago composer Jonathan Miller - and two major orchestral/choral works that have very special meaning for her.
Gayle is now Executive Director of the George Family Foundation and in fact sings less these days, but she continues to serve as a board member chair at Chorus America. Here she's met composers, heard new choirs and finds herself right in the center of the action as far as this living art of choral singing.
Gayle believes everybody can sing, it's completely natural and a true expression of self. And as a community experience, and performing at an accomplished level, choral singing has the ability to lift us up beyond ourselves.
At the George Family Foundation, Gayle is the point person to the community, managing grants made in the areas of integrative health and healing. She tells me it's a perfect fit as it brings together all the reasons for making art - for the sustenance of our bodies, minds and spirits.
And Gayle says that every time she sings is a prayer, she truly lives spirituality through music.
Next week, we continue with choral music playlists when I bring in a friend who proudly wears the label of "choral geek" singing both in the Minnesota Chorale and at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Bob Oganovic.