Thank you to Chorus America for this incredible honor.
Louis Botto and Chanticleer were household names for me as a young boy growing up in San Francisco. Therefore, to be honored today with this award given in his memory is a particularly poignant and special moment for me. Some of the roots of my choral music tree are audio memories of sitting in Mission Dolores Basilica or St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco and listening to the pristine, seamless sound with deep astonishment at the power and scope of what human voices could do. I understood then and I understand more than ever now that this is not only a musical art. It is, in fact, a microcosm of the ideal society - where people cast aside their differences and live in harmony, and where, in fact, their many differences compliment each other in ways about which the modern world has completely forgotten.
If there is to be a life for this important work into the next century and beyond, we have empower the composers and the singers to find and lead us down pathways of harmony between the past and the present, tradition and innovation, the sacred and the secular, the popular and the obscure, the men and the women, the gay, straight, bi, trans, and binary, the young and old, the black and white, the republican and democrat, the conservative and liberal, the east and west, north and south. Furthermore, we must meet people where they are and speak to them in their own familiar languages - a means of lowering the defensive barriers that conspire to separate us needlessly.
Over the last ten years, I have watched the singers of Choral Chameleon grow and change, open and expand, transform their lives, give every bit of themselves to the point of exhaustion, and take each other by the hand and jump - and jump - and jump - and jump again - all to accomplish this mission and inspire people to be their best selves so that they can go out and serve the world with joyful curiosity.
They are my heroes. All of them.
What an incredible feeling it is to be in the company of some of the greatest choral music minds of our time - particularly Craig Johnson Patrick Quigley, Donald Nally, Grant Gershon, Jonathan Miller, the inimitable Gregg Smith, Dale Warland, Jon Washburn, and Dennis Keene - all of whom I have deeply admired, studied, and emulated with fervor.
I am moved to the point of tears to know that Nicole Belmont, Matthew Oltman, David Conte, and Kristina Boerger thought enough of me to offer their generous written words in putting me forward for this honor. Each of them, in their own ways, is a pivotal force in music and certainly in my life.
Thank you, one and all, for your support - but most of all, for your willingness to love and love and love some more, no matter what comes.