Confessions of a Choir Defector
Like meeting an ex for a coffee and catch-up, I felt some nervous flutters as I headed into the Chamber Singers winter concert this year, not as a singer, but as an audience member. Would I see them differently now that I've had some distance? Would I find regrets, or validation? It wasn't always this way...
Even before I arrived at Kenyon, I knew I wanted to be a Chamber Singer. My first September found me in conductor Doc Locke’s office for auditions. It was terrifying--my voice cracked--Doc LAUGHED at me (okay, it was more of a sympathetic chuckle.) Somehow, I made the cut. At the time, I meant to be one of those four-year-strong Chambers seniors, but study abroad and photography shifted my plans. This year is the first music-free schedule I’ve ever had.
At the winter concert, I realized some things about singing in groups like the Chamber Singers that I wouldn’t have known otherwise…
1. Being in the audience is like a guilt-free sick day.
You know those times when you have no voice (genuinely, I mean--I know your tricks), and therefore must sit out rehearsal as a useless, empty shell? I always relished those rehearsals, getting to listen with ears uncluttered by my own voice or, more likely, the voice of the soprano next to me. Hearing my friends sing always leaves me in awe.
2. No one is judging you.
Conductors tell us this all the time, but the audience actually CAN'T tell when you messed up. Even if we did know, we’re not going to hate you for it.
3. There's nothing like that performance high. Treasure it.
The winter concert followed the usual Doc-style programming. There was a catchy South African song, and a surprise comedic number, and a deliberately discordant piece that the choir probably grumbled about behind Doc's back. And then, at last, that one song that becomes more than singing, that spreads across the stage in an imperceptible sway as the singers forget to perform and simply... enjoy.
It's those moments that I really miss.
Luckily, Kenyon is a highly musical school, and our weekends are often so packed with concerts--acapella, instrumental, or choral--that it's hard to make it to all of them. Though I’m no longer on stage, at least I’m surrounded by music and very, very talented people.
Chamber Singers 2012-2013, a downtrodden and serious bunch.
Photo permission: Ellen Kaufman