Creating excellence is not magic, the process known only to a few people with supernatural insights and abilities. . . . Vision, persistence, and strategy are the foremost reasons for the creation of excellence in musical performance and they are characteristics of all notably successful choral and orchestral conductors and their ensembles.
— from the Introduction
In Creating Excellence in Choirs and Orchestras, noted scholar and conductor Dennis Shrock uncovers the key factors and proven strategies that lead to the achievement of excellence in music ensembles at any level, from youth and volunteer groups to professional ensembles.
With the use of numerous historical references and examples, primary source quotations, and music excerpts, Shrock lays out fourteen elements that contribute to an ensemble’s success. The first seven are foundational theoretical concepts: goals, focus, attitudes, structures, procedures, responsibility, and ontology. The subsequent seven elements address practical techniques: study, warm-ups, sound, cohesion, expression, conducting, and repertoire.
While the book highlights the choral and orchestral mediums specifically, all concepts can be applied to any type of ensemble, from marching bands and wind ensembles to string quartets and vocal chamber groups. Further, the recommendations herein are not exclusively for the benefit of conductors. Music teachers, church musicians, ensemble members, and administrative staff will glean from these pages as well.
According to Shrock, excellence is an attainable goal for anyone with a vision, a persistent commitment to that vision, and creative strategies to facilitate that vision’s realization. With this inspiring premise at its core, this insightful text guides readers as they embark on their own quest for musical excellence.
Dennis Shrock is considered one of the top choral scholars in the United States and has received a number of awards for his work. He has conducted numerous choral and orchestral ensembles throughout his career, including the Chorale and Accademia Filarmonica at the University of Oklahoma, the Canterbury Choral Society, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra, and Oklahoma City Philharmonic. He is also a noted author, having written three books for Oxford University Press as well as six books for GIA Publications.