For some singing is a hobby. For others, it’s a passion.
But regardless of your abilities or experiences, the Bach Festival Society is opening its doors for one afternoon to sing your heart out and celebrate the artform with its upcoming “Summer Sing” event Sunday, June 10.
The event is in its third or fourth year, said Art Director and conductor John Sinclair, and it has become a favorite.
“We do it as kind of an awareness-creator and also as a service to the community for those who would like to know what it is like to sing in a group like the Bach Festival and also who want to sing this great repertoire,” Sinclair said.
For 60 to 90 minutes Sunday afternoon, those who sign up for the event will get the opportunity to sing through a 10-song selection alongside members of the Bach Festival Orchestra.
Visitors will start with Franz Joseph Haydn’s “The Heavens Are Telling” and make their way through song selections from classical pieces by Mozart, Bach and Johannes Brahms.
The song selection is one filled with uplifting power and beauty, Sinclair said, and it is also different than the previous Summer Sings. Sinclair decided to do pieces from different masterworks.
“Sometimes we do a major work if a major work is appropriate,” Sinclair said. “This year, none of them seemed appropriate for this particular one, so what we decided — it would take an even more interesting turn for me — (was) to do some of the greatest choruses from some of the most important major masterworks.”
You could say the masterworks chosen by Sinclair represent a sort of classical mixtape, one which he has developed throughout his 41 years of teaching music. Twenty-nine of those have been at the Bach Festival Society, and 32 at Rollins College, where he serves as director of music.
Sinclair is also the conductor for Disney World’s Candlelight Processional at Epcot, where he said he has conducted exactly 871 shows.
Although his list of accomplishments spread far and wide, the benefit Sinclair enjoys the most is the simplest — the love for teaching.
“The term ‘maestro’ actually means teacher, and I believe at the heart of everything I do, I am a teacher,” Sinclair said. “Anytime I can influence someone musically — or make their lives a little better or a little more interesting — and I get a chance to teach, I always raise my hand. I’ve never gotten tired of communicating great music and making music with people.”
Teaching music to a professional chorus and orchestra is one thing, but taking in a large group — the Bach Festival Society estimates around 150 will show up for Sunday’s event — of folks with different ranges of talent who have never performed together is another.
“It’s kind of what I do,” Sinclair said of the challenge with a chuckle. “On Sunday, so many people won’t know me from Adam or vice-versa, and the challenge is to let music be, indeed, that universal language that we will communicate by.
“We will sing through it, and if we find that there is a tricky spot we need to look at before, then I’ll give them a little information on the piece and the spots to look for,” he said. “I have to be extra careful to communicate well as to what to look for.”
Participants themselves will not go into the event cold. Once their registration is received, the Society will send an email with the songs they can print out and read.
Although the “rehearsal” will be treated in a similar fashion to how Sinclair guides along the Bach Festival Choir, there will be more of an emphasis on making the event fun and educational — all while helping to introduce people to the music that has always moved him.
“It is gratifying and it is great fun,” he said. “Anytime you get to sing good music like this, it’s a good day,” Sinclair said. “I hope it’s as much fun for them as it is going to be for me.”