ALIAS-Portara Partnership Profile: Daniel Elder

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This Spring, ALIAS launches a series of creative collaborations, including the May 7th concert with Portara Choral Ensemble, where they will perform a World Premiere by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec. Portara and ALIAS will perform together again for the May 29-31 Emergence series with the Nashville Ballet. The ALIAS-Portara-Ballet collaboration also includes the commission of Moravec’s work for the new “Amorisms” CD, expected to release in early 2015.

One of Portara’s talented vocalists (and also a composer), Daniel Elder, took a rare timeout from rehearsing to share his excitement for these upcoming performances.

Q: Just how excited are you and the other Portara choral members to be performing two songs by a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer – including a World Premiere?

Daniel ElderAs a composer I know the value of promoting the creation of new music and making sure we all remember that art is still a living, breathing organism. Premiering one of Moravec’s works is a perfect way to bring this life to Nashville audiences, and our upcoming recording project of his music will help spread the new works to an even wider stage.

Q: What are the most challenging aspects about these pieces you’ll be performing at the May 7th concert with ALIAS? What do you enjoy most about these works?

The most challenging aspect of Moravec’s vocal writing in these projects is the harmonic palette he uses — it just never stays still. As a singer you must be on your toes and ready to sing the pitches that aren’t exactly expected. This is very different for the ALIAS musicians, who I’m sure would say it’s his rhythms that pose the most challenge. Vocal and Instrumental idioms can so often vary!

Q: Portara will also perform with ALIAS at the Nashville Ballet’s May 29-31 “Emergence” series. What is it like to sing with dancers on the stage?

The honest answer is, “I don’t know!”  We haven’t yet had a chance to combine our work with the dancers, but I’m looking forward to the experience. Having sung in opera choruses in the past, I anticipate this will contain some of those exciting stage elements that add so much to a musical score.

Q: How long have you been singing with Portara? How did you get started with the group? What type of parts do you enjoy singing the most?

I have been singing with Portara since I moved to Nashville last August.  In this short time I’ve been able to perform three repertoire cycles with the group, including new works by three contemporary composers (Moravec being one of them).  As a bass/baritone, I love the role I play in the choral hierarchy. I consider myself a musical leader, and singing the notes that are often the foundation for other voices to build on is a great way to employ those leadership skills. With regards to style, the more challenging the better!

Q: You are also a composer. What types of works do you like to create?

I love composing in a wide variety of idioms, but mainly for large vocal and instrumental ensembles (orchestras, bands, choirs).  I consider myself a cross-idiomatic artist, so as my instrumental music often takes on vocal or lyrical qualities, my choral music can likewise explore many symphonic flavors. In this way each genre gets a taste of something new!