>I was on the way to take care of some stuff with my mom yesterday, and I knew it was going to be stressful. I have playlist on my iPod that consists only of my favorite classical choral music that I play for comfort.
Music has always been a big part of my life. Did the requisite piano lessons as a child. Played the violin for awhile. Played guitar, somewhat badly, and I have a banjo here that I swear I’m going to learn to play. It’s on the bucket list, so I have to.
But I’ve always loved to sing, and fortunately I’ve been blessed with what people tell me is an above average voice. Mezzo-soprano, thankyouverymuch, although I currently sing alto. I’ve been a part of choirs since I was in the 8th grade. At the girls school I attended from 6th to 9th grade, you were eligible to be in the main chorus when you got to the 9th grade, and they had an audition only group that I was fortunate enough to make. We always did a Christmas concert with the boys school across town. I still remember how wonderful it was when I heard all four parts of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” together for the first time, and how cool it was when we sang it in performance and the whole crowd stood up. I didn’t know the back story of it at the time.
The two schools merged, and I sang with the chorus there. We had to learn all sorts of classical pieces. I hated it. HATED it. I hated the repetition. Hated all those pesky eighth note runs. But my friends were in it. I remember sitting with my friend Karen, throwing Atomic Fireballs on the floor of the Chapel to break them apart and eating them during practice, and bothering the tenors sitting in front of us (just because we could). I didn’t know at the time I was learning discipline and that those pieces I hated would become some of my best loved music.
Went to college and sang with the choir there. Discovered the Bach “Magnificat” and how you could really freak people out singing a capella in Latin in the middle of a welcome center. Found out how hard it could be juggling finals and Christmas concerts at the same time. But I’ll never, ever hear “Once in Royal David’s City” without remembering processing through Glenn Memorial Church at those concerts. I also remember being mesmerized by the string instruments — I had never sung with anything other than a piano or organ, and it was quite a thrill singing with an orchestra.
After college, I didn’t sing for awhile, and I missed it. I tried singing with a community chorus, but it didn’t really work out. I had a major disagreement with the director’s wife, who was trying to make me stand where I couldn’t see the director during the performance. ALL my directors had taught me that I needed to look at them, and by golly, I was gonna do it.
Then, I saw a sign on a local church advertising that they were singing the “Messiah” — that very same piece with the “Hallelujah Chorus” and all those pieces I had hated in high school with all those blasted eighth note runs. My friend Cathy went there and sang with the choir, so I told her to tell her director that if he needed a soprano who knew the choruses to have her director give me a call. Jerry called the next day. I’ve been there ever since.
I have to thank Jerry, because singing with him has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I’ve sung the old familiar classical pieces I knew, and he’s added so many new ones to my repertoire. The choir has become some of my best friends and it’s my safe place during so many of life’s storms. And where else can you find a group of people who will sing Beethoven’s “Hallelujah” from the “Mount of Olives” a la Elmer Fudd? “Hawewujah unto Gods awmighty Son…”
Today I’m going with the youth of our church to sing to one our members who is in hospice care. She always told me how much she enjoyed our music and how much she loved hearing us sing. I’m hoping this will bring her comfort… even more than my little playlist on my iPod brings to me.