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December 18, 2003

CBS 60 Minutes II

Choirmaster John Rutter is an English composer who writes more Christmas carols and choral music than just about anyone on earth. Correspondent Vicki Mabrey found the maestro in a small church in Edinburgh, Scotland, giving singing lessons.

“You don’t realize how good it is until you’ve tried it,” says Rutter. “It is wonderful to go to a choral concert, to hear a choir sing. But I think the deepest joy of all is to actually sing.”

Rutter holds these singing days about 20 times a year. “When I agree to do these, I make just one condition, which is that anybody is welcome,” he says. “So long as they are willing to come and bring their voice, they’re welcome.”

The cost of admission: donation to charity. Singing lessons from the master: priceless. After a full day of tinkering, fine-tuning and some candid critique, these people – who’d never sung together – sounded amazing. How does Rutter get the sound that he wants? “Communication through body language or through face language perhaps seems to take over,” he says. “There’s a kind of alchemy or magic and if I probe into it too deeply maybe I’ll lose it.”

Although he’s gained an international reputation, Rutter’s career has centered around Clare Chapel and its choir. For several years after college, he was the choir director. He got married there, and his oldest son, Christopher, was baptized there as well. Christopher followed in his father’s footsteps, and sang in the choir. But in 2001, right after choir practice, Christopher was struck by a car and killed - it happened just outside Clare Chapel. His funeral was held a week later, in Clare Chapel.

“The sadness, of course, never goes. Anyone who’s been bereaved knows you never really get over it,” says Rutter. “I think anybody who’s experienced what our family has knows that it draws you closer together, and perhaps from that closeness comes a sense of inspiration.” For two years, Rutter couldn’t find the inspiration. But when he finally emerged, he wrote “Mass Of The Children.” More

Posted by acapnews at December 18, 2003 9:29 AM

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