CSO’s Patrick Godon brings his talent and experience to the Tower Chorale of Western Springs
August 1, 2011 // Western Springs, IL
By Allison Horne GateHouse News Service
The Tower Chorale of Western Springs welcomed choir director Patrick Godon into their midst in July of 2011 after the previous director served for 25 years.
Godon has been an asset to the Chicago music scene since the very beginning. When he was young, his parents had to force him out of the house because he wouldn’t leave his piano.
Following his youthful impulses, Godon headed to DePaul University for both his undergraduate and graduate degree in piano performance.
His first job out of graduate school was a director of music post at St. Gregory the Great Church in Chicago, which he has been doing since 2003. In 2006, he founded the International Chamber Artists (ICA), a chamber music ensemble of classically-trained musicians.
Godon also prides himself on being the second keyboardist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Since his start at the Tower Chorale, the choir has jumped from 65 to 90 singers. Godon believes it’s because people are curious as to see what the new director will bring to the group.
What was the response when you became the new music director?
Overwhelmingly welcoming. I think the old directors was ready to retire, so by the end, I think rehearsals were slower paced. I’m a younger guy, so my rehearsals tend to be a little more upbeat than they’re used to.
Do you have any changes in mind for the choir?
Yeah, actually. I heard them in May when they selected me for the position, and I had some definite ideas on things I wanted to change. I’ve been working with them on their breathing and supporting the sound more, and I’ve noticed the sound become much more deep and full.
The old conductor was great, but I think that in the past it’s been built as a community chorus, so they’ve used amateurs for their instrumentals. That’s going to be different. I want to bring in people that are a level up, and I’ve been really focusing on bringing the ICA into it and having them hear professional music, which also brings their level up.
Another thing I’ve changed is that their March concert has been the only big concert because they’ve only been able to afford one. Because of my connections in the city and my connections with St. Marys of the Angels, they’ve invited us to come there and sing “The Creation” by Haydn there. So now we’ll be able to have two performances. It’s so much work — we rehearse every Monday night — so to just have one performance it’s tough. It’s been really nice to work on two performances.
One thing that I’ve started is a marketing committee to help get the word out about the concerts. I’ve been looking at the website and how to improve that, as well as “brand” the Tower Chorale. The goal is to get people to come. It’s been nice to focus the energy in the right places.
Do you have to be from Western Springs to be involved? How do you get involved?
You don’t have to be from here, it’s just named after the big water tower. Now that I’m here, I’m trying to get some younger folks to join, which is improving the sound — there’s less vibrato.
If someone’s interested, for the first two rehearsals they can come and sing, but after the second rehearsal, you have to decide right then if you want to commit. I hear the new singers at the end of the rehearsal.
Instead of an audition I call it a “vocal assessment.” It’s a $50 fee for the whole year.
What are you most looking forward to as the new music director?
I’m looking forward to combining everyone and bringing new music. Especially bringing this singer and orchestra together. I’m also looking forward to doing larger scale works.
You have kind of a lot of stuff going on — how do you keep it all balanced?
I have a second son that is due in about a week. I try and keep things balanced, and I don’t try to overbook myself.