Since I moved back to Bundaberg I’ve been involved with the Bundaberg Orpheus Singers. I was excited to join a choral group singing in 4 part harmony. Believe it or not – not all regional centres have adult singing groups.
I was happy to sing with the altos for the first few years. I liked singing harmony (boring sopranos! who wants to sing the tune all the time!). It helped me “keep my ear in”. And then for a little while I sang second soprano which I found a great and wonderful challenge. Singing the middle of the chord can be really hard. It made me understand the difficulties of the tenor part. And then in about 2006 (I’m hazy on the date) I became the accompanist. I had filled in here and there previously, but this was official.
It’s an amazing opportunity that I would be hard pressed to find if I was living in a capital city. Sometimes living (in fact lots of times) in a regional centre has distinct advantages. Every Monday evening from 7-9:30 I repetiteur for rehearsal (excluding holidays). This means I’m there for the first learning of the notes to the performance, and everything in between. A long time ago, I discovered that I love the rehearsal process much more than performing. I like working out how to get things right. Perhaps it’s the educator side of me. I like seeing people start with a piece of music that seems initially alienating or difficult and watching them gradually learn to embrace it. Or not (we don’t all embrace every piece of repertoire). I really love honing my listening and accompanying skills in working with our great conductor. I like to try and be “in synch” with her as much as I possibly can. I like second-guessing which sections we are going back to, watching her to try and match her musical phrasing of the singers with my playing.
Lots of people think that a choral singing group is old hat, uncool and for people in that “retired” age bracket. Wrongtown. Of course, as young people leave school and town, we have less members in that age group. But singing is for life and for all ages. There’s nothing quite like the experience of standing with a group of people and being caught up in the swirl of sound, knowing that you are contributing with your one voice to a force that greater than the sum of its parts.
It can be exhausting and frustrating at times. At times it can get repetitive and boring. Sometimes it’s joyful and sometimes it’s sad.
But then it offers those moments which are gloriously exhilarating.
Is being in a choir a metaphor for life? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is.