In the Deep End

I said in my previous post on the subject that I would keep everyone posted as the Huntsville Master Chorale‘s season progressed. I think I’ve been holding my breath a bit on posting the next installment for much the same reason as the first: I just wasn’t sure how well I was going to do. 🙂

In that first post, I said that I had jumped into the deep end, and I wasn’t kidding. It took me approximately half a practice to realize just how much talent I was in the midst of. The Chorale is chock full of music teachers and ministers of music. One of them is our excellent piano accompanist. Another directed our men-only piece for this concert. One gentleman served as our authority on Hebrew pronunciation, because it’s only one of several languages he has studied. Another member (if I remember correctly) actually did graduate level research on black gospel music, so Tom tagged out with him on the appropriate piece. Then there are the voices. I think Tom had fun this time finding as many solos as he could, because he has so many excellent voices to choose from.

I haven’t even started talking about the literature yet. About half of our program for this concert was Jewish in origin. Several of the pieces were liturgical. Those and more required us to learn to pronounce Hebrew. It was transliterated, thank goodness, but still an additional challenge. As for the music itself, it was definitely the most difficult I’ve ever had to sing. So, it wasn’t much of a comfort to me to hear that the music had been specifically chosen to be not very difficult (since we only had 9 rehearsals before the concert). I distinctly remember leaving the second practice feeling like I was barely keeping my head above water. I was certain that everyone around me could tell just how much I was struggling (and I’m still not sure I was wrong about that feeling).

I kept plugging, though, and the long-disused “musical muscles” started flexing again. It had been so long that I had forgotten just how automatic (and how subconscious) music memory is for me. Little by little I started being able to feel my way through the pieces. It gradually got less and less about remembering how to get from one note to the next and more and more about learning and remembering the nuance and style required for every piece. By the last couple of practices, I was really beginning to have fun with it.

In the interest of making sure that I get something posted tonight, I’m going to stop there and continue in the next post. 🙂

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