This week, I had the chance to spend time with Jo-Michael Scheibe for the first time in a while. It is always good to watch Mike work. I am always impressed by how hard he works to listen to a choir. He cares deeply about text and whether or not it is being communicated. He understands the voice very well. Maybe more importantly, he knows how to make corrections that fix problems quickly.
I was also reminded about how much listening to Mike’s conception of choral sound shaped my own conception of what a choir should sound like. I never studied with Mike formally. I just learned a lot accompanying for him.
Above all, I got a chance to remember that I just like to spend time with Mike. He is genuine and human. That’s a quality that conductors sometimes loose along the way – especially when they are gifted and placed in prominent positions. Mike maintains high standards and is demanding without ever becoming unkind or arrogant.
It’s a great ideal. Master your craft and stay human. It’s pretty easy to compromise on either one of those fronts. I think we often do. Still, it’s great to spend time with someone that is an example of excellence on both the musical and the human front. I think that’s largely because he doesn’t think that they are two different things.