Not so perfect, not so young

Sunday, March 12, 2006

And then I did this, and this. . .

It has been a long weekend of choir, choir and more choir. After a Choralfest performance on Thursday, an epic four-choir concert on Saturday, a church service this morning, and an afternoon performance in another city. . . . . I'm tired. But not too tired to write about some of the highlights of these musical adventures.

Highlight #1

At Choralfest, one of the adjudicators, Stephen Hatfield, workshopped one of our pieces with us. That man is larger than life, and the musical metaphors he gave us were oh so unforgettable. For example, wanting to help us express the longing and aching prayer of the traditional spiritual "Deep River", he said (with gravitas befitting a Shakspearean soliloquy, and with illustrative gestures) :

"You know how when you floss your teeth, the floss can pull a bit sometimes, and give you a little ooh (grimaces)."

Choir nods. (I'm thinking that a dental hygiene analogy might not work for me, as far as expressing emotional intensity goes. I actually enjoy flossing.)

"As you sing, I want you to convey that same ooh (grimaces again) as you floss your breastbone with your soul."

As he says this, he mimes gripping his floss-like soul between his thumb and index finger and drawing it painfully across his xiphoid process.

Ah. Now breastbone-hygiene, that's a different story. That wouldn't feel very good. It was a very effective illustration. And funny.

Highlight # 2

A second highlight of the weekend was after our afternoon performance at a multicultural event. A small group of 12 or so singers rather than the whole choir, we performed a number of African songs, with movement and drums. The enthusiasm of the audience was contagious, and we really enjoyed our performance.

It's always nice when people express their appreciation after the concert, but my favorite BY FAR was when a little girl, about 5 years old, in a knit poncho, touched my hand, and said:

"I heard you singing before."

I crouched down to hear her better, and I asked her if she had danced along with us. She (still holding my hand) said:

"No, I just did this" (kicks her right foot forward and back a few times)

I told her that was similar to some of our movements in the songs, and she continued to demonstrate her moves:

"And then I did this (kicks left foot a bit) . . . and this (kicks right foot) . . . and I did this (absently kicks with left foot again ). . . ."

This went on for a while. It got to that adorable little-kid point where she was thinking, "Okay, the nice grown-up is still listening to me. . . so I'll just keep talking" and was just making up nonsense. I don't think she even remembered what I had asked her. And that's why it was SO CUTE!!!

The beauty of today's performance is that it largely wiped out my memory of last night's performance (part of the four-choir epic concert I mentioned), from which I have NO HIGHLIGHTS TO REPORT.

(Except for the part where I cried as a choir of small children sang a poignant song with text written from the perspective of a deaf child - but that's it.)

I think a video file of that concert is going to be posted as the Wikipedia entry for Gong Show.


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