I’m not sure what triggered it, but today I did a search on YouTube for my former choir director, Paul Salamunovich, and found this:

Okay, I’m not asking you to look at almost 10 minutes of video of a boring chorale/orchestral performance (or am I)?

I just had to post this because I totally remember this performance (I am somewhere on the middle-left, about three rows back) and it brought back such vivid memories of a very important time in my life.

At the time, 1987, I had a very good, clear, soprano voice.  By the time I graduated I was a second soprano.  Now I can hardly sing at all.  Must be all the whiskey and cigarettes.

But most importantly, I want to say that Paul Salamunovich was a very important man in my life.  He was inspiring, unyielding, and completely unforgiving if you missed a note (and if you couldn’t sight sing, forget it, get the fuck out of here).  And he could coax the sweetest of sounds out of the most clueless of freshmen.  I know, because I was one of them.  Every rehearsal was a performance, and he explained the music in such a way that it felt like theatre–you weren’t just singing, you were acting, you were being the music.  Sound poetic, and in a way I’m sure it is–you know the memory of an eighteen year-girl.  Always romance and flowers.

He is, to use a very tired cliche, the real deal.  And I am so very proud to have been able to work with him.

2 Replies to “Memories”

  1. chancuff@aol.com says: May 27, 2010 at 1:51 am

    A group of those who have sung for Paul have gathered on a Facebook page called “Salamunovich’s Army”, a group created by a current Chapel Hill High School student, Lizzie Workman. She participated in one of his workshops last summer.
    On the “Info Page” you will find quotes from Paul that Lizzie found memorable. I think you will to. Paul still teaches workshops at the age of 92. He was here in Virginia teaching just last week.
    I have been kicking around an idea to create a virtual choir comprised of those who formally sang with Paul, along the lines of Eric Whitachre’s:



    I’ve discussed this with Paul on the phone and, as you can imagine, he’s quite reticent. I think the problem is giving up control –If he can’t hear it, he can’t fix it. 🙂 His stated reason is that he fears folks who haven’t sung in years won’t have the voice for it. I told him that this form of performance will give him a level of control he’s never had. He can turn down the volume on any voice that displeases his ear. THAT gave him pause. 🙂
    His son Stephen and I are continuing to work on his hesitancy.
    If interested, here’s the link to this Facebook page:
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=18236802193&v=info&ref=ts
    Cliff Hancuff

  2. Robert Baird says: March 5, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Paul was the one of the best conductor I ever had the pleasure of singing for and the choir on Sunday mornings a religious experience. I remember Paul saying that he wished that he had a choir with trap doors under each singer and a lever he could pull to eject a singer that was not singing to his satisfaction or something to that effect. A dictator as a director but a deeply religious man who could bring out the best from any singer and would never accept anything but perfection from his choir.

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