I’m a member of three choral groups—the Manassas Chorale, a smaller pullout group, the Chorale Ensemble and Manassas Baptist Church’s Sanctuary Choir. I’ve been a part of the Sanctuary Choir since 1970, and in fact, I met Becky after a rehearsal that year. I joined the Chorale in 2003 after I retired from teaching.
Becky and I stay busy with music (and in my case, writing) most of the year with the exception of the time between Christmas and New Year’s and a couple of months during the summer. The Chorale doesn’t have rehearsals from late May or early June until the end of August, and the choir is off during the month of July.
We’re about six weeks into the Chorale’s hiatus and about two weeks into the choir’s time off, and I am missing gathering with other musicians, talking with them, catching up on their lives, laughing at jokes and memories and of course the music itself: the learning curve, hearing the songs come into focus, and the satisfaction of presenting songs we’ve worked on so hard for so long.
We did go on a choir tour of Ireland, Wales and London in late June, but the preparation for our three concerts was done in the middle of June, and each time we sang I found myself wishing we could have sung more. We did a lot of sightseeing and while we visited a number of places with a lot for sale I bought a pair of socks with Insular majuscule script on them (the illuminated alphabet used by scribes in the ninth century) and that was it.
I understand that Harmony International worked long and hard to allow us to sing where we did, which included St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin (near Christ Church Cathedral where Messiah was first presented), St. Matthews Church in Cardiff, and Southwark Cathedral in London (where Shakespeare and Dickens were members). For the London concert, we had 120 singers and five directors (but not at the same time). By all accounts, this was our best concert, and, for me, the high point of the tour.
We do have some music camps to look forward to, but we’re not singing with our friends in four-part harmony when we do those. The rehearsals begin again in August, and I for one am ready.
Joseph Martin, one of the directors on the tour, has written a piece called “The Awakening” in which he writes of a terrible dream about a world of silence, a world without music. In the song, when he awakes, he realizes that music exists in many forms, and concludes with a joyful and triumphant exhortation to everyone: “Let music live!”
I think of what the groups I belong to work so hard to make music live, and the thought also occurs to me that music also lets us live. I am glad it does, and I believe that it always will.