Our morning session was a meeting with María Guinand, the director of the Schola Cantorum de Caracas. She was equally as inspiring (maybe more-so?) as our previous meeting with Osvaldo Golijov. In addition to leading her own choral group, she's active in approximately five thousand other projects. I didn't write it all down, so I can't sum it up here… but she must be one of those people who manages to cram 50 hours into every single day. For much of the conversation, she spoke more about being human than music, which was great since she has an incredible perspective as well as a killer track record of unbelievable achievements. So, she was really able to speak in a tangible way about reaching long-term goals (she used the word "dreams" instead). This was just what I needed given my cynical, burnt-out, feelings towards my day-job with the local ACF Chapter. When we got into talking about music, she was no less inspiring, and gave us a glimpse into the technical processes involved in realizing Golijov's "Pasion."
Afternoon was spent with more presentations from participating composers, some humbling, some not so much. I also had a small group lesson with Robert Kyr, the symposium director and chair of the composition program here at the University of Oregon. He's very very encouraging, and is a great example of generous listening. He is somehow able to always be open to really hearing what other people are saying, and has a real gift for respecting a diversity of opinions. He's an interesting "cat" and I hope to have a chance for further conversation with him. I wish we had more time in the lesson, but I did get good feedback and I feel a bit more prepared for upcoming rehearsal with the Fireworks ensemble.
After dinner, it was more presentations. Again, some humbling, some less so. When that session was finally over, it was definitely time to return to the exploration of Oregon microbrews. I discovered that another participant, a composer from Los Angeles named Sara Graef, spent several summers working on a boat in Alaska researching humpback whales. She told me she was in DC recently for a National Marine Mammal Rescue Conference (that's probably not the right title…). Damn, I had no idea there was a Marine Mammal rescue conference in DC. How'd I miss it? I told her about my fondness for pinnipeds, and she actually knew the word "pinniped" already, and mentioned that one of her friends who also attended the conference specializes in pinniped rescues. I'm so jealous.