I am so impressed with Plymouth Congregational. Having dealt with young Sunday school children myself, I know that it can be a difficult task for them to simply march up the aisle and keep their skirts under chin level, let alone sing in parts to a kind-of tonal Ben Britten piece. I couldn't believe how they projected when they were singing and sat still when necessary and.. wow. Hanna is right in saying that the conductor did a marvelous job of adapting to the level of his singers. For the congregational hymns, he used HUGE motions so that even those way in the back balcony couldn't miss it. At one point, the children started singing at their own pace, but after an attempt to get them to follow his beat, he caught up and reigned them back in. I would have liked to have seen a rehearsal of this production to observe the techniques used to teach the children their parts.
Entrances were extremely clear, both to the audience and to the actors. I was surprised at how much flourish there was at cut offs, however. The twists and twirls made me question what exactly he wanted. At other times, though, his hands were stiff and fixed in a pointed position, as Hanna noticed. Here, I think a plethora of information that could be conveyed through the hands was missing, limiting the conducting to big beats.
Despite all this, anybody who can successfully engineer little children, adolescents, professionals, and "blue hairs" in the congregation to create a beautiful sound has to be commended. Well done! and thanks, Matt, for letting us know about this opportunity!