Saturday, March 29, 2014


She gives me the part.  Maybe she believed me when I said I'm a choir chameleon who can blend with any group.  Maybe she just liked my voice.  Then again, maybe not because once I have the part, she tells me to sing completely differently.  In her heaven, the angels all have lots of vibrato.  In my heaven, there is no vibrato.

I have never been formally trained.  I used to take a sort of pride in the openness, cleanness, and clarity of my voice (when I wasn't rusty).  I don't actually know how to control and use vibrato for good and not for evil.  Actually, I don't even really know how to use it for evil.  It is not something that comes naturally to me.  I'm not really an alto either, something my old choir director used to say but I didn't really understand until I was out singing with older adult choirs.  Yes, I will now freely admit that I am a mezzo who doesn't have a high range anymore (since I wrecked my health a bit my senior year in high school).  I can't quite bring myself to say I'm a mezzo-soprano, I, who have spent my whole choir life holding up the alto section because I could hit the low notes.

She wants me to sing with more of an alto tone (deep and rich and solid), to keep my voice tall and closed, to pour on the vibrato.  I give it my best shot, trying to memorize the piece so I can spend that mental effort on trying to blend the soprano 1's and alto 2's vibrato while also bridging the openness of the soprano 1 with the closed-ness of the soprano 2 and trying to remind folks about dynamics and to--above all else--listen and make lovely music. 

But at the last practice, our first with the orchestra, I forget everything because the choir is singing and they are getting it right and the orchestra is so full, and I let all the beauty going on distract me, catch me up, pull me away from my duty as bridge/anchor/chameleon, make me forget that I am tasked with singing about the holiness of God so wonderfully it blends into a whole where I don't stand out at all but support and redirect attention where it belongs.

This is why one of the ladies who has also joined the choir just for this events says she likes singing with church choirs more than professional choirs: because this music is not only beauty to us but is also truth.

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