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Thanks (understatement) to rshackleford, my old district and workshop chorus tapes are now CDs. And today, I listened to some of the stuff on the way to work. For some reason, over and over, this had me really choked up. I blame this on a few things:

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.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2003 05:31 am (UTC)
Il Est Belle et





Jul. 17th, 2003 10:31 pm (UTC)
i have the kings' singers version of that one. :)
Jul. 17th, 2003 06:37 am (UTC)
I was in the main chorus where it didn't matter if you could sing. I always tried out for the other ones but I never made it! Through 3 years of middle school and 4 years of high school I was continuously rejected! Which is really all well and good since I can't hold a tune to save my life. They put me in the alto section.
Jul. 17th, 2003 10:32 pm (UTC)
Oh no! I'm sorry. Poop! I bet you did some other kinds of extracurriculars that were just as cool. Were you a theater geek?
Jul. 18th, 2003 07:06 am (UTC)
Nah, the theater was run by the untalented popular people! High school was misery!
Jul. 17th, 2003 08:15 am (UTC)
My school never had a chorus; we did, however, have a Christmas pageant in which singing was prominently featured. My voice was so bad that I was made a reader almost every year. Such is life!
Jul. 17th, 2003 10:49 pm (UTC)
Erm, a reader - is that like you read a passage or something? How big was your school, did it just not have enough people to support a chorus?
Jul. 17th, 2003 10:56 pm (UTC)
Yep. I read passages and introduced the acts. My school was very small (parochial) and couldn't support a band program and a chorus; the band won.
Jul. 17th, 2003 09:31 am (UTC)
Funny thing: At my high school, the quarterback of the football team had an absolutely terrific bass voice. So he also sang concert choir and show choir. Had quite a few other athletes in there, too. So it didn't get stigmatized as an uncool male thing to do. For a little while the chorus had great male sections.
Jul. 17th, 2003 10:51 pm (UTC)
I might have been playing up how stigmatized chorus was, and it certainly didn't feel that "dorky" as I got older, however there wasn't alot of crossover. Now in drama, there was alot more. My senior year we did "The Music Man" and the handsome quarterbacky type guy grabbed the lead from all the harcore theater nerds. He was quite talented. He's probably a lawyer today. :)

I don't think we ever had the strongest tenor section, but I seem to remember the bass section being full. I know this only because as a really low voiced gal, I had to fill in on occasion. I loved that. :)
Jul. 17th, 2003 09:42 am (UTC)

I was in my jr. high school chorus for a year. I had to get talked into it, but I was the first kid on my grade whose voiced changed, so the choral director really wanted me to be the one baritone of the group. It was actually a pretty enjoyable experience, but in the end the director and I didn't not get along very well and I didn't sign up for it ever again after that. Who kows what might have been if the two of us could have gotten along!
Jul. 17th, 2003 10:53 pm (UTC)
Damn, that's too bad. Do you sing today? I mean in the sitting around singing along with the radio way.
Jul. 18th, 2003 09:37 am (UTC)
All the time.
Jul. 18th, 2003 09:38 am (UTC)
I even make up new words for songs as I go along.
Jul. 17th, 2003 01:04 pm (UTC)
Why do we remember this stuff? At the time I guess I figured, what the hell, I'm a smart ugly girl in junior high and I'm spending the next three years getting teased anyway, so I may as well go for the gusto and advance from regular chorus to the small exlusive vocal ensemble. Sing while you may. The music was lovely, and if you are already nerdy you may as well lord it over everyone by singing in Latin, though I remember always feeling mildly irked that everything was so darned Christian. Still, every once in a while, lo these many years later, when the temperature of the water is right and the shower is just echoey enough, I find myself trumpeting NOW on LAND and SEA de SCEND ing BRINGS each NIGHT its PEACE pro FOUND! JU bi LA te! JU bi LA te! JU bi LA te! JU bi LA te! A-A-men...

I was humbled in college when I was cast in "Hair" and had to be on stage with some really amazing voices. And these days I've got no range left at all. I blame quitting smoking. Smoking keeps your voice loose, or something, I'm telling you, it's against all science. Anyway, I can't sing for crap now, and I'm self-conscious about it, so forgive me if I'm shy at karoake nights. :)
Jul. 17th, 2003 10:56 pm (UTC)
I knew I had some closeted chorus geeks on my friends list somewhere.

I actually had to take latin for three years in high school, so I think I did have a superiority thing going on about singing in latin.

I will forgive you if you are shy on karaoke nights, but I refuse to believe that you can't sing for crap unless you want to prove it!!
Jul. 18th, 2003 05:44 am (UTC)
Sounds like you have the makings of an adjunct to the book club, a voice club. I sort of wish I had found a string quartet some place a long time ago.
Jul. 18th, 2003 10:08 am (UTC)
Re: singing
You could still find one. I think you should fiddle with a folk band or something. Or, just take lessons, you take flying lessons, why not violin lessons?
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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