Monday, March 14, 2011

Faculty Profile: Horst Buchholz

As a faculty member of the Sacred Music Colloquium Horst Buchholz, vice president of the CMAA and now the new director of the St. Louis Cathedral, contributes both musical experience and highly spirited love of sacred music. St. Louis is very fortunate, and now he has Fr. Samuel Weber as a colleague right there. Glorious things will emerge from this partnership.

I personally marvel at his ability to tackle any score so fearlessly, whether it is an orchestral Mass of the 18th century or a rich polyphonic work from centuries earlier. I've never experienced him as a conductor another setting but I understand from those who have that he is at home with Mahler as he is with Monteverdi. The music on the page must enter his musical imagination immediately, and he certainly has the capacity to use grace and charm to elicit from singers exactly what he hears in his head.

He has never missed a performance deadline. In some ways, he is the very opposite of a "diva," happy to be as practical as necessary to get the job done but always with high standards. The Graduale Romanum is utterly transparent to him and he can probably sing sizable portions of it by memory. And for a person of such extraordinary training and accomplishment, he is so approachable and humble as well.

The first time he attended the colloquium, he came as an attendee, singing alongside everyone else. It was only later in the week that I realized just who he was - sort of like having the CEO of company show up in disguise as a regular customer.

Attendees are very fortunate for the chance to get to know him, and the Colloquium benefits enormously by having a musician of such high caliber in our presence for a week.