“Are you nervous?” The Chemist asked me.
We were not just about to jump from a plane or anything. We were doing a section in a bell piece which had to be counted in that silly way bell ringers have: “A-one-ie and a-two-ie and a-three-ie and a-four-ie.” I was supposed to ring on and in one measure and three in the next.
I thought I had been doing so.
I said as much and The Chemist said that I had gotten it right the past couple of times, but went on to say, “I think the dotted notes are making people nervous. They’re right at the beginning there, and they look intimidating.”
That was the first of the theories on what was going wrong last night.
Actually, my solo was fine. The flute was good, the piano was good, I was reasonably good, and while I did reject a microphone in a testy voice (9:00 p.m. and no dinner), I was able pretty quickly to add, “Of course, I’ll use one if someone wants me to. But if you were asking whether I want one, no, thank you.”
That is one piece of music. The choirlet will be joining in on it in the performance, and some of them have been doing some pretty aggressive scooping. At one point I said to S, “Do you think that the scooping is a stylistic choice, or a characteristic of those voices?” She paused a moment and responded, “I don’t think we can do anything about it, if that’s what you mean.”
The children’s piece was very cute, though there were I think fewer children than S, their director, had hoped. It doesn’t really matter with children. They have the cuteness factor going for them. As long as they don’t actually hit each other or remove their clothing during the “Hosanna”s, they’ll be a hit.
There were more pieces of music. I was sitting in front of The Oldest Member, who is a sweetie, witty and debonair, but who also turns off his hearing aid for rehearsals, so it is hard to judge the sound of the choir when you sit right in front of him. My nearest neighbors and I were at least accurate, it seemed to me, and the sopranos sounded quite pretty.
The Chemist made several protests, though. The equivalent, maybe, of citizens’ arrests.
I always say things like, “I am having some trouble with the entrance at 19” or “We’re not all singing the same thing at 42” but The Chemist is not mealy-mouthed. She would turn right around and tell a bass that he had the wrong note, or announce that people were singing through the rest at the beginning of the Kyrie. My favorite of her antics was when she leaned her head back and sang the tenors’ note to them in a booming foghorn of a voice. None of them smacked her over the head with a music folder, so I assume they found it helpful.
The organist thumped hard on notes in a reminding fashion. There were confused squawks about dynamics from different sections. And the director became more grim as we went along, and more cryptic in his hand motions. That very last note, there was quite a bit of speculation going on — did he want us to close to the “n” and sustain it, or was he just wringing his hands in despair?
So, yes, there are gaps between our rendition of the pieces for the Tenebrae service and actual perfection.
And, as I say, there were various theories advanced for this. I had the simplest one: people haven’t been coming to rehearsals. Easy for me to say, because I always go to rehearsals.
Other theories advanced included the people who had cut out tonight to see their new grandbaby, the allergies, rain, the fumes from the candles, the direction, the lack of lights, the length of the rehearsal, and an overall lack of soulfulness in the group.
I like The Chemist’s original theory. I like to think of people being so intimidated by the sight of a dotted half note that they are practically struck dumb, and therefore can’t be expected to get the entrances right or pay any attention to the dynamics.
No doubt you will be glad to know that my backlinks returned to the fold, wagging their tails behind them. Some of my competitors’ did not. I will therefore be plying The Dark Art today. It is Maundy Thursday, and I have some singing to do as well (a noon service, and they say there will be jambalaya), and #1 daughter will be driving up tonight. As she is a government employee, she gets tomorrow off. I am thinking, therefore, that I may do some cooking and cleaning in her honor. It is also Swoop Day at Amazon Vine, always fun. And the dogwoods bloomed yesterday, so a walk would be nice – but thinking of allergies and all the singing I have going on between today and Sunday, I probably ought to go to the gym instead. I am tempted to go back to bed for a while before doing all these things, frankly, but I will probably resist the temptation.