Maria Fuller (Photo credit: Sebastian Serrano-Ayala)
Conductor and Musician Maria Fuller Virtually Puts Together Ensemble
Story by Ayano Hodouchi Dempsey
“The past year has been a year of brainstorming for everyone, not just the creative arts,” says Thunder Bay musician Maria Fuller. For Easter, she came up with an offering of music arranged and performed by herself, with the help of many musician friends.
“I grew up in a family of trumpet players. Trumpet is pretty big for Easter and we’re used to performing on Easter Sundays,” she says. “I thought, maybe there’s a project that can involve my musician friends; a video that can be offered as a part of Easter church services.” She offered the music to churches in Thunder Bay, so that they could incorporate it into their virtual (or in-person, if restrictions allow) Easter Sunday morning services.
Fuller took two Easter hymns, “Low in the Grave He Lay” and “Crown Him With Many Crowns,” and a congregational singing number, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” and arranged them for a string quartet, trumpet, harpsichord, organ, and choir. She enlisted the help of musicians she knew, including members of the Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus. Fuller herself plays the trumpet, harpsichord, and organ.
Each musician sent Fuller a recording they made of their parts, and she compiled them using sophisticated software. “As a conductor it’s really neat to work virtually,” says Fuller. The software allows her to manipulate the recording, so instead of asking a musician to play something differently at a rehearsal, she can tweak it herself. “It’s a lot of fun putting it all together,” she adds.
The careers of many performing artists have been put on hold over the past year. But far from feeling powerless, Fuller has taken control of her life, determined to find creative solutions and artistic outlets. “I keep thinking, we have so much time now, time we used to wish we had. It makes me wonder: are we using this time, or are we letting this time use us? We’ve all wished for a break from our hectic, goal-oriented, success-driven lives, a time when we could truly feel presence of mind in the calm of the moment,” Fuller says.
The pause in her career has given her a rare opportunity to dive into things she previously didn’t have time for, such as arranging. “Both music and the church are close to my heart,” she says. “Our Easter Gift of Music project is a fun way for me to make a collaboration between the two at a very meaningful time. I hope the community enjoys it.”
The music will also be available online at mariafuller.com/composer.