The director of the Master chorale is a mild man, gentlemanly and calm. He sat down at one point in the Rutter last night, fixed a lambent gaze on the alto section, and asked us to “describe this passage — not musically.”
“Sweet,” someone offered.
“Yes,” he agreed, “but what about the text?”
There was a bit of a pause. This was the Winchester Te Deum, so it was a prayer. That seemed a bit obvious, though. I imagine we were all trying to switch to literary analysis.
“It’s a message to the Master,” offered the woman from the Arts Center.
There may have been a bit of relief in the room. That sounded quite good, we thought.
“Okay, it’s a prayer. But what kind? Is it desperate?”
“No!” from several corners of the room.
“It’s something offered up daily,” said the woman from the Arts Center. She was definitely on a roll.
“It’s confident.” That was me. There were murmurs of agreement.
The director nodded slowly, looking over the ranks. We watched intently. Finally, he said, “Then sing it like that.”
We had a lot of absences last night. It had been raining, and it is a busy time of year, so that’s understandable. Still, it meant that we could hear some individual voices.
You never want to hear individual voices in a choir, of course, but people were adjusting to the different sound of the chorus without all the singers in it. In a big, unauditioned choir, you’re going to have some lovely voices and some that are more like braying or honking. With enough people and a good director, it doesn’t matter. The result will still be music.
With the smaller numbers, I had moments of ignoble concern that the director would think I was the one honking or braying. I’ve only worked with him in the large chorus. He doesn’t know that it is my neighbor sounding like a foghorn on those low As.
It was a fleeting thought. Really.
I will be up at the store today, and must go straight from there to the Tuesday class. Partygirl, with whom I travel to the class, signed us both up to be greeters, so we have to go so early that I have to pick her up on my way from work. I have also been asked to help out with the children’s section tonight. And I have errands to run. I am not sure when I will do that.
One of the women at rehearsal last night told me that Monday is such a busy day for her, she always feels frazzled by the time she gets to rehearsal. I asked her what it was that made Mondays so busy, and she stared at me for a moment.
“Well, I have to get out of bed,” she said at last. In another minute she added her physical therapy and housework to the list. Another woman joined in the conversation.
“You know how you can tell when you’re old?” she said. Apart, I supposed, from feeling frazzled by having to get out of bed. “When you bend down to pick something up off the floor, and think about whether there’s anything else you can do while you’re down there.”
I am not old yet, at least not by that definition, but when I am old, I hope I am still singing in community choruses. Even if I am honking and braying and booming by then. I’ll just sing softly.