On Sunday February 28, 2010, my year of mourning will come to an end, well … mostly.
On that day, I will layer on my stage makeup and bright red lipstick, curl the ends of my long blond hair and climb into my floor-length black velvet skirt, matching shirt and comfortable black leather flats that have stayed tucked in the back of the closet for nearly a year.
My standard concert preparation routine — perfected from 15 years of singing in the Kennedy Center with the now defunct Master Chorale of Washington — will continue as I go about the house-warming up my voice to the tune of favorite hymns and by singing musical scales, nursery rhymes and difficult or mostly memorized sections from the day’s concert repertoire. Oh and I’ll attempt to drink only mildly warm water and avoid eating dairy, menthol-based or sugar products.
Before I leave the house, I will check to make sure my music is tucked in the concert folder in the correct order and I’ll stuff my music bag with a bottle of static guard, a fist full of cough drops, a back-up pair of hosiery, needle and black thread and mini-scisors, a travel-size pack of tissues and my latest crochet project, which I may or may not tinker with in the free time between when our choir warms up and we take the stage.
As you may have by now guessed, I have found a new singing family in the newly formed National Master Chorale. I have decided to fold up and tuck away in the corner of my mind the world of sorrow I suffer(ed) due to the loss of my former choir family. Click on the category Master Chorale of Washington to read background stories about the former choir’s demise.
My year of mourning will end on the day of the National Master Chorale’s first concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, February 28, at The National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.
Titled Winter into Spring: the concert program will feature the music of Francis Poulenc, Aaron Copland, Morten Lauridsen and other distinguished composers who wrote on themes of transition and transformation. Composer Lauridsen, whose Mid-Winter Songs will be featured during the concert, will give a complimentary pre-concert lecture starting at 6 p.m.
You can buy tickets online if you want to witness this historical event and show your support of the local arts and of me and the new choir’s hopes and dreams and mad-singing skills :-). Even if you don’t care about all the “supporting the arts” stuff, you’ll want to attend this concert because you will get to meet a famous American choral composer and hear a finely tuned choir perform a rare repertoire of 20th century music.
Stop for a second and imagine the feeling of love, joy and hope that will saturate the room as our choir takes the stage to celebrate the fact that, despite all the odds, including a wide-spread economic depression, we have reunited much of our choral family and all our efforts will have come to fruition. How could you not want to be there for that?
Prices are $10 for students (with ID), $20 for balcony and $30 for ground-level orchestra.
The new choir has been featured in the front page of the Washington Post style section and is listed on the Post’s website as an editor’s pick as a top Washington classical music event to attend in the months of February-May (Washington classical music and opera picks)
Now that you have the details of the concert, let me explain my decision to rejoin the ranks of professional choral groups.
I auditioned/joined the new National Master Chorale (NMC) because it is headed by, and was started up through the volunteer hours and blood , sweat and tears (well, maybe not the blood part unless someone got a really bad paper cut) of those of us who sang in the now defunct Master Chorale of Washington. The new NMC is an 80-member choir comprised equally of paid professional and volunteer singers. I am a volunteer member.
A majority of its members were a part of the MCW at the time the board shut it down. Moreover, our new director Tom Colohan, was assistant director to the former MCW director before Tom went on to hone his own directorial skills and then came back to DC to director our new choir.
Colohan’s enthusiasm and determination to ever strive toward choral perfection is contagious and matches our own. Moreover, his directing style is wonderfully aligned with the style that led us to such great heights in the prior choir. And yet, at times he reminds me enough of our former director that I get a little verklempt inside and even sometimes yearn for one of those poignant and side-splitting funny quips my former director was so famous for making.
Why did I join the new choir?
1.) I will be singing with people who are determined to do whatever it takes: practicing music at home and/or volunteering every moment of free time to get the organization running, fundraising and marketing plans in full gear and all the concert details locked in place. I have but spent a mere fraction of time compared to the new board of governors, director and committee leaders and I give them major kudos for all they have done.
2.) I will be singing with people who I consider my choral family.
3.) In the last few months of rehearsals I’ve several times felt myself caught up in the music and our amazing sound just as often happened in the prior group. In other words, I’m getting my chorale high on.
4.) Finally, other than if the Master Chorale were still around, I can’t imagine wanting to sing in any other group.
I hope you can come and join in the celebration!