Today, I heard my heels hit the pavement for a bar of silence and I realized they were tapping out the beat like a metronome. From September through May, Higher Ground sings the soundtrack of my life.
Some people put playlists together to time their runs or to mark changes in their aerobic routines. Revving up for a long run ahead of him, my husband listens to Let’s Get it Started by the Black-Eyed Peas; building momentum, he’s feeling good, maybe even a little self-reflective, he plays songs like Stressed Out by 21 Pilots (this might be foreshadowing, I mean, who doesn’t want Mommy by about 5 km into a run!); and winding down, past the point when he’s sure he can’t go on, but he does, listening to I’m Still Alive by Pearl Jam is perfect. People are intentional about their playlist choices.
That’s not how my life’s soundtrack plays out.
First of all, our choir director, Janet Warren, chooses the songs. Each piece speaks to her. Sometimes a colleague recommends it or she hears it while adjudicating other choirs. Sometimes a composer brings her a new arrangement that suits the blend she is known to achieve with our 30 voices. Other times, its an old favourite that only the original members have sung before, but it gives the whole choir a head start. Regardless, the theme emerges only after we have worked with all of the pieces together for several weeks, and finally a concert title is ready for our in-house graphic designer, Karen Roeck (Sop 2), to design our posters.
Then there is the painstaking development of each song. I record our practices every week. So, for each song, I have a record of its evolution, from the unsteady early harmonies of sight-reading, through concentrated effort on particularly challenging sections, to the final concert-ready version you hear. Its often those challenging sections that hold the music’s most interesting chords or movements in the music, and at times, they bring me to tears. When a choir as big as ours manages to express the sentiment intended by the composer, it marks the director’s commitment, the accompanist’s commitment, and every member’s commitment to the music and to each other.
My neighbour stopped me the other day and asked what I am always listening to so intently, “My choir music; it’s how I practice.” Walking to the bus, riding transit, driving, cooking, gardening, mowing the lawn, choir music is the soundtrack of my life.
Then summer comes.
It’s like suddenly being alone after a party. At the time you wished it would never end, but once everyone’s left, you are glad for the rest and for some time to remember the funny parts. It’s time for us to be alone for a few months. And, while we miss each other terribly, it’s a time when we can listen to other soundtracks, march to the beat of other sounds, and perhaps even dust off a guitar or a keyboard that longs for our attention from September through May.
So, here we are, the end of another challenging, exhilarating playlist. Thanks for singing (and dancing!) along with us, see you in September!