From Haydn's The Creation and Lord Nelson Mass -- performed by the Eckerd College Concert Choir and Friends this past March.
It's a grand night for singing . . .
The voice lessons I took in high school didn't turn me into an opera diva. Cosí fan tutte wasn't on my Top 20 and Lohengrin wasn't exactly easy listening.
Those were the days of the Beatles, Herman's Hermits, Marianne Faithful, Petula Clark, the Mamas and the Papas, the Lovin' Spoonful and others. Even now, phrases from "As Tears Go By," "Downtown," "Monday, Monday," and more drift through my mind at the oddest times.
Just listen to the rhythm of the gentle bossa nova . . .
Playing tag in my brain with the pop tunes and lyrics of the 60s, are the show songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Leonard Bernstein, and others.
How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
Not opera, by any means. But my instructor was also the choir director at our church. And he encouraged me, a high school sophomore (freshman?), to sing in the adult choir.
I wonder if he knew what a gift that was.
For one thing, I was never quite youth group material. Most of the other kids at church went to the same high school, a different one than I went to. Most of the other kids played sports or were in band or were in other group activities.
Me? I was on the speech team.
The debate team.
Yes, I was on the drill team one year, and I did go on a youth group outing to play in the snow at Big Bear. And while I wasn't exactly a fish out of water, I felt a bit like a mountain-stream rainbow trout mixing it up with Coho salmon fresh from the ocean.
For another, my voice wasn't knock-'em-dead-powerhouse solo quality. Give me an acoustic guitar and a coffeehouse setting and I might be able to earn a few bucks. But belt it out on Broadway? Ain't gonna happen.
Except that somebody encouraged me to join the adult choir.
Chorus, choir, chorale -- the synergy of individual voices so yielded to and blended with each other creates more than just magnified sound. It creates a new voice, one that is more than the sum of its parts and that transcends parts all together.
We bring our puny voices to the group, offering them to the music, moving as one with the director, trusting -- as did a long ago little boy -- that our vocal loaves and fishes will be multiplied and divided to feed the multitudes more than just a picnic lunch.
And what of the loaf being multiplied? For me, my range extends, my volume expands, and my voice becomes a little less puny. I am taken out of myself and become more than myself.
Make a joyful noise, the Psalmist said.
He never said it had to be a solo.