This semester, I have been privileged to sing with the upper level choir at my school. Before I began college, I didn’t have much exposure to choral singing. I loved music, but thought of it only as either instrumental or a singing soloist. Choral works fall somewhere between the two, as voices form a living orchestra. This was new to me. I remember the first concert I attended seemed to take forever, but the next went by a little quicker. Now, I pay so much attention to the different voice parts in a composition that a two hour program seems brief.
(my college choir poses for an official photo)
Over the last year, choir has increasingly become the focal point of my school day. Bible verses form many of the choir’s pieces, and the significance of the text unfolds as we work with the text day after day. With so much repetition, rehearsal is reminiscent of the meditation of ancient Christian hermits. I am reminded of the saying ‘singing is praying twice.’
(some of my choir fellows at a concert last year)
One of my favorite things about music is that it is meant to share with an audience. The meaning of each song is twofold: consisting not only of the words the composer has set to music, but also of how the lyrics and melodies affect each listener. As the background of each person is unique, no one will be moved by the music in quite the same way. We speak to each person individually, and many grow misty eyed as they listen. Are the feelings we evoke sad or sweet? Maybe some relive memories of long ago. Others, perhaps, are reminded of loved ones who have passed away. I do not know the details of each life that listens, but as we sing we reach to everyone.
(one of my favorite pieces from our Christmas concert last week)
Music is the only form of art that completely surrounds and immerses its audience. Stand in a grand cathedral as sound reverberates from every wall and you’ll see what I mean. As we perform, the music courses through my veins, invigorated as I blend and harmonize with those around me. Long after our concert, the words echo back to me in quiet moments, the beauty not confined to the mere performance.