1. Schmaltz. Oh my god, the songs they torture junior high/hogh schoolers with!! I think The Ash Grove was specifically written with torturing teenagers with simpy schmaltzy foof in mind. Nevertheless, I was really happy to sing these songs 13 years ago, so despite the ridiculous saccharine sentiment (Song for a Russian Child, which I can see from a quick google search they are still forcing on children to this day.) the chords and
plaintive developing voices and manipulative words just break me up.
2. Memories. I was really proud to be in chorus. I was really proud to have made the audition. I don't think that back then I was all that proud of much of what I did, so the memory of this one thing that I took so much pleasure in, even if I wasn't the super number one best, just gets me all kerfluffled.
Along with the memory of that rare injection of self-esteem, come smaller, yet also significant memories... like the toiling of the accompanist, who screwed up on this one concert on nearly every song, which I can only attribute to the fact that they must have tossed a few back just to get through the evening. Like the fact that I think during this concert I had my mind half on when I was supposed to breathe between phrases and half on some fifteen year old studmuffin with black hair and blue eyes which until I got to college was what I thought was my favorite combination. I never met that kid, I think I slipped him a note during the break and he looked at me funny the rest of the weekend. The struggle of the tenors to make their notes, and the clear lack of strength in the entire tenor/bass portion of the chorus, because I guess guys didn't usually want to participate in what was essentially "glee club". The fact that it seemed, as an alto, that the damn Soprano I's always have to show off. And while I'm talking about being an alto, let's not forget starting and finishing a song on the same note and hardly having strayed from it the entire time. Altos out there, youknowwhatimean. And of course, my complete lack of memories of feeling the hand of God reaching out when I sang a lyric that was totally religious. Yeah, I'm sure 150 teenagers are really feeling that their "soul and body cryeth out for the holy lord of hosts".
There's also the memory, when you hear the applause on the recording, of hundreds of screaming, clapping parents not caring that you were singing some crap song in latin that might not even be gramatically correct, but only caring that the fruit of their loins was up there singing! On a stage! It's kind of a special sound. I recognize the potential in myself to make that sound, but let's not think about that right now. I can hear in between the straining voices, as well, the straining of the director, waving his hands or baton I don't remember which, hoping that THIS time his group would RAM that blanded down Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho right down the eardrums, in perfect harmony, of his captive audience. Chorus directors were always much maligned, but once on stage always passionate to get the best performance out of us. On one of these tapes, the director gives a really moving speech about the need for an arts curriculum in the public school system. I know that my alma mater will always have an arts curriculum so long as the headmaster draws breath, since I went to a private school, but in today's climate that speech might even mean more.
I loved singing in chorus. I still remember every part, every breath and every key change. I did it in college, but really at VT the only people who could pursue it in earnest were the voice majors. There are no recordings of our Liebeslieder Waltzes, nor our Bach Kantata 134. I never really interacted socially with those people, unlike the friends I had in high school. And now... 7 years of smoking and the only practice being singing along to Bryan Adams at the top of my lungs in the car, and time being what it is, I wonder... would I get the same feeling of joy and pride out of it? Or should I wait until I have kids, and get joy and pride out of watching them do it. (IF they choose, I wouldn't force.) Now if I found a chorus to sing with, at least the music would likely be better. (It got better when I was in high school, and so did we, but man... the stuff we did for District Choruses was aw-ful.) But my mom and dad wouldn't be there cheering and smiling. And there won't be that faint feeling of "maybe I could be a professional someday". Well, I do know I'll still listen to
these recordings from my youth, however pathetic that may be.