One of my projects over the late spring, which has continued into the fall, is a commitment to listen to my 600+ CDs that I have collected over the years. Can you tell that I had an obsession with buying recordings? I say "had" because I refuse to walk into a record store: I lose all control over my wallet as I venture into “the land of unheard recordings”!
This love of recordings began when I studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, a vibrant city of performance and music where many of the recordings I loved were made.
(By the way, Salzburg is the perfect destination for an international music tour! It's filled with amazing venues and is the home of Mozart. Let Encore Tours take you to Salzburg and through all of Austria!)
Anyway getting back to the CDs! I literally had CDs still fully intact in their original wrappers. Those, I started with first. I particularly enjoyed listening to the six CDs that I owned of the full Messiah. It was remarkable how different they all were, which inspired me to do this with other works and conductors, too. Karajan versus Bernstein, Bohn versus Muti; Szell versus Solti...What great recordings! What unique ways of portraying the same piece! What artistry!
I remember when working with my college or church choir that I would always recommend certain recordings. In rehearsal, I would play these great recordings as an invaluable example of excellence, style, and tempo to get my groups fired up. Doing this introduced the sound of the work to the singers and got them excited about striving for a high level of performance.
I am happy to say that I am about two-thirds of the way though my project and am carrying on! It has been an awesome journey and I strongly encourage you to do the same with your own music library. It will inspire you and take you down memory lane, plus you might find some fantastic new gems for your ensemble.