Last week was exceedingly busy for me. Rehearsals Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and concerts Friday and Saturday evenings. I left home at seven am and didn't get home until nearly eleven pm each day. Saturday I did have a bit of a reprieve, since I didn't have to work, and I spent the whole afternoon hanging out with Claudia. But after the show we had to load out the risers, sets and props, and then had an "after party" dinner out, so I didn't get home until one am.
The concerts went amazingly well. We sang some silly songs and some deep and meaningful songs. Act 1 was a peek behind the scenes of Charis rehearsals; there were acted skits between each song that kind of set them into context: A new member comes to join Charis, this is what she experiences. Then Act 2 was the set for the GALA festival in Denver in July which I won't be able to attend but I'm hoping that if I'm still in Charis in four years when the next one occurs that I will be able to go that time.
Here's what we sang. I can't find good examples on youtube of all of them (and we're not on there (yet?).
- curtain up
- Another Op'nin', Another Show (Cole Porter, from "Kiss Me Kate")
- Backdrop display: 14 weeks earlier...
- skit about pre-rehearsal chatter, new member shows up
- Scales and Arpeggios (from "The Aristocats")
- skit about "Sectional Identity" (altos vs sopranos)
- Alto's Lament
- skit about singing in foreign languages
- Lambscapes (Eric Lane Barnes)
This is basically Mary Had a Little Lamb in the style of...
- I Gregorian Chant
- II Handel
- III Schubert
- IV Verdi - guest soloist
- V Orff
- (We skipped Movement VI for having too many errors in the sheet music)
- VII Gospel
- skit about production and sets, while setting up for:
- Kiss the Girl (from "The Little Mermaid")
- skit about board meetings
- Lesbian Second Date Moving Service
- skit about announcements
- Announcement Song (music from Another Opnin, Another Show, words by chorus member)
- Guest soloist, two arias (that we chorus members didn't get to hear, due to being in the hall lining up for the next piece)
- Freedom Come (sung from the aisles of the theater, social justice photo montage)
- Women Rock the 80's
- Singing for our Lives (Holly Near, arr. our director)
- No Time
- Chapo Pou Fanm (Sidney Guillaume, in Haitian Kreyol)
- Real Clothes (Melinda Ohlemuller and Symmetry)
- Jambalaya (Hank Williams)
- teach a verse of Singing for our Lives to the audience, sing with them from the aisles
14 weeks earlier... (as the early backdrop for the concert said)
This January, I joined the St Louis Women's Chorus, CHARIS. One of my Facebook friends has been posting invitations to the open rehearsals for several years now, and I've generally given it a moment's thought and then forgotten about it. But this year was different.
One day I was sitting in the living room talking to Tammie, complaining that there wasn't enough group singing in my life (it's one of the very few things I miss about regular church attendance), and saying that while pagan chant is enjoyable, it just wasn't Quite The Thing for me. "I wanna sing SHOW TUNES!" I lamented. The very next day, there was a Facebook invite from Alison. (She goes by Al, but for purposes of differentiation, she's going to be Alison here.) So having been slapped in the face by my sign from the universe, I went to my first rehearsal.
After the first one, I also dragged Rosa to them. I told her she should come to three rehearsals, but I wouldn't force her to keep coming after that if she hated it. "But there's another 16-year-old that joined, Laurel, and you have a lot in common." Rosa came for rehearsals for a while, but she had told me from the beginning that she didn't want to perform. I was hoping she'd change her mind, but she never did, and after six weeks or so she also developed a wheeze that seemed to get worse after singing. I decided to let her drop out so that the remaining group could concentrate on blending our sound among the ones who really were going to perform, and because she and Laurel were becoming a distraction by whispering together during practice.
It's been a lot of hard work, weekly rehearsals as well as private practice time (which for me has mostly been in the car, singing along with our practice tracks) and two full-day Saturday rehearsals. But it was only just barely enough time to learn all the songs by heart and get my part down sufficiently so as not to slide onto the next section's part instead. At the last minute (last Wednesday's rehearsal), we had to give up on memorization for one particularly difficult song and work out a smooth way to bring the music folders out for it. Too many of the chorus members just hadn't been able to memorize it. I'd gotten close, but I would have needed about one more week to get there--a week we obviously didn't have.
I am the sort of singer who really isn't naturally "good". I don't have perfect pitch, not even close, and I can only just manage relative pitch with moderate accuracy (i.e., go up or down a step or half step or a third or whatever). Inside my head, my imagined music sounds perfect, but what comes out my face when I start singing almost never matches it, and even I can tell it doesn't. However, with A LOT of practice and/or a strong singer to listen to and follow, I can sing pretty well.
So this has been something of a stretch goal for me. Something I knew I could do, but would have to work hard at. And that's been a really good thing for me.
The only bummer is that I'd been hoping to make some new friends out of the chorus, and that hasn't really happened. Yet? Everyone has been friendly at the rehearsals and such, but no one has yet clicked with me personally. It is still a source of community, though, and that's good.
I'm not going to be able to attend many of the other Charis appearances over the summer due to conflicts, but I am planning to stick with it for next fall.