As Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Singing, I--and, by extension, NATS itself--am extremely fortunate to enjoy a genuine relationship with our business partners, Carter Publishing Studio and Modern Litho-Print Company. This has been true from the day in February 2002 that I traveled to Missouri to interview both firms and decided to cast our journalistic lot with them, and our affiliation has blossomed since.
Laura Carter, founder and president of Carter Publishing Studio, is responsible for the design and layout of the Journal; she and I are in voice and e-mail contact several times each week. Ed Zagorac is Sales Representative for Modern Litho-Print Company, which handles the printing and distribution of our periodical. Both have become good friends over the intervening years, and from both I have a standing invitation for a biennial visit. That is an offer I eagerly accept for two important reasons. First, it is an opportunity to spend time in a beautiful area. The Carters--Laura, husband Jim, and high school-aged daughter Emma--live, work, and study in Fulton, an enchanting little town in central Missouri. About thirty miles south of Fulton is Jefferson City, the lovely state capital situated on the Missouri River, home of Modern Litho-Print Company.
Second, and much more important, these visits provide occasion to nurture valued relationships. My wife and I made our second pilgrimage in late October, and again enjoyed the warm hospitality of our friends there. Besides the welcome social activities, we visited the impressive new facilities of CPS, and experienced another informative tour of MLP, where, coincidentally, I was intrigued to note stacks of the November/December issue of Journal of Singing ready to be shrink wrapped and mailed.
Interestingly (to me, at least), when the Carters and we worshipped together on Sunday morning, the text and sermon for the day were drawn from the healing of the blind man on the road to Jericho. A very good friend, eminent composer Matthias Kern of Hannover, Germany, wrote a magnificent two-movement work for chorus, soloist, and organ, Biblische Szenen, which I still consider his magnum opus, one part of which is a setting of this text. My first European "gig" was as tenor soloist on tour with the Kantoreigemeinschaft Hannover, conducted by Kern, and this difficult but highly expressive work was the program's centerpiece. I was awash in nostalgia with many wonderful memories.
But I digress ... My deepest personal and professional gratitude goes to Laura and Ed, for their continuing friendship, gracious hospitality, and the excellent work they consistently perform for Journal of Singing.
Finally, with the reader's kind indulgence, I would like to address a bit of personal unfinished business. You may recall a recent review of Martha Elliott's Singing in Style. A Guide to Vocal Performance Practices (Journal of Singing 63, no. 1 [September/October 2006]: 109-111) in which "Bookshelf " contributor Debra Greschner correctly identified a few instances of undocumented assertions in an otherwise highly recommended text. One fascinating and provocative example was Elliott's theory that "boys' voices changed much later in Bach's time, perhaps as late as sixteen or seventeen."
That assertion activated my musicological juices. Since it happens that Wisconsin boasts the only local chapter of The Voice Foundation, as a member of that chapter, I determined to e-mail our constituency--otolaryngologists, speech-language pathologists, voice scientists, voice teachers--to inquire whether anyone had heard of the phenomenon of delayed puberty in the eighteenth century. Almost immediately, NATS member, Foundation member, and fellow Wisconsinite Antonio Rodrigues-Pavao responded with a suggested reference, which I found in my college library: John Komlos, "Stature and Nutrition in the Habsburg Monarchy: The Standard of Living and Economic Development in the Eighteenth Century," The American Historical Review 90, no. 5 (December 1985): 1149-1161. In an obscure footnote on page 1157 is the following:
In Leipzig a nutritional decline seems to have taken place, perhaps because of the War of the Austrian Succession. The voices of teenage boys in Leipzig changed at a later age in the 1740s than in the 1730s, indicating that a decline in nutritional status that delayed the onset of puberty began earlier there than in the Habsburg monarchy ...
There it is--and begs further research into the implications of the phenomenon for solo vocal and choral music in the German late Baroque and early Classical eras.