The first piece I sight sang at Renaissance Chorus was Josquin Des Pres’ In Principio Erat Verbum. I had never heard any music like that before but suddenly I understand the spaciousness before the dawn of creation.
Every week was a revelation of a new world of values and of a magnificent group of people who came together just to help perform this music.
Music and Art High School was a respite from the endless teasing and bullying I had experienced in my Junior High School and Renaissance Chorus took this sense of relief to a whole other level. Suddenly we were valuable people—valued by this musician, conductor, composer. For those magic hours every Saturday morning we were essential to resurrect this too long unperformed music. Renaissance Chorus was not inter-changeable with any other chorus. It was unique and the privilege of having sung in it has stayed with me for my whole life.
In between explaining a passage of music Mr. Brown would off-handedly throw out a reference and in this way we were exposed to many pieces of literature, current movies or other art that interested him. Through his setting of Gerard Manly Hopkins’ No Worst, There is None I came to read Hopkins’ other poems.
When I try to recapture just what it was that made working with Harold Brown so special I guess I’d have to say it was his dedication. He was not paid to conduct this chorus. He did it because he loved the music. He worked harder for this chorus than for his paid jobs and in the process taught me about discipline and commitment and what means to love something so much that you really do it just for the love of it.