I sing

I AM ALWAYS HAPPIEST functioning behind the scenes, away from the spotlight. Not that I’m hiding; I just don’t much care to be the center of attention.

I have said of my job, you’ll know I’m doing it well when you don’t know I’m doing it. I could say the same about singing. I have sung solos (and not just karaoke), but mine is really not a solo-quality voice. But that doesn’t make me a soloist, any more than having skied a few times makes me a skier.

I am a choral singer. I read music and sing what’s written, adding interpretation according to the director’s guidance. I don’t improvise. I’m at my best when I’m blending with others who are singing the same part, or harmonizing with those singing other parts.

I am an alto. We altos approach our supporting role with the quiet confidence of those who know they are able singers, yet don’t need to sing the melody in order to prove it. (Don’t take offense, sopranos; I mean no disrespect. We can’t sing harmony if you don’t cover the melody.)

I am also an instrumental musician, I guess, though I’m a much better singer than I am an oboist or pianist right now. Frankly, that’s because I wasn’t driven enough to keep practicing my instruments once I maxed out my natural ability and things got hard.

(Kids, please – keep practicing.)

But singing, I’ve been doing for my entire life. My mom nurtured my sister’s and my love of music from our earliest years, teaching us how to hold the melody while she sang harmony, then the reverse. She could tell we had “an ear” for it. I have sung in choirs large and small through high school and college, and had singing roles in musical productions. (That time when I was Rose in “Bye Bye Birdie” and forgot the words to one of my solos is probably a big reason that I now prefer the company of other voices.) I learned many important skills during my years with the college-community chorale, including punctuality, NOT EVER TALKING during rehearsal and always, always carrying a pencil to mark music.

In my early years in DC, I sang with two different local choruses. Once the kids came, I limited my singing to my church choir. While I enjoyed being a part of leading worship through music, I came to realize that it wasn’t quite scratching a musical itch I’d developed.

15002474_10154490298515944_992126786823873657_oAnd that’s why, when a friend suggested I audition for the National Philharmonic Chorale two years ago, I jumped at the chance. It’s a large group, and we sing choral masterworks, usually with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, but sometimes unaccompanied. It has been a great thrill to be part of productions presented at the Music Center at Strathmore, in my home county, near Washington, DC. And, it’s been just the challenge I was seeking.

As a behind-the-scenes supporting type, I’m not given to self-promotion, but I do want to share something with you: We have a concert this coming Saturday night. Here’s a link to the page that lists all National Philharmonic shows this season, through June, including Handel’s Messiah in December. Some are orchestra-only, with soloists, and for some, the chorale also takes the stage. If you decide you want to come see us, send me a message – I can hook you up with a discount code for tickets and answer all your questions.

I cannot imagine a world without music in it, let alone one where I’m unable to sing along. I believe there is real magic whenever any group makes music together. I know singing does not come naturally to everyone, but it’s in my bones, deep in my soul. Music is a lifelong gift, and I’m so grateful for it in all its forms. I get to sing with a whole bunch of people who feel the same way. Please, come hear us!

 

 

Orion is a-Risin’

Tonight, on a cold February night, Peezer had to work on part of his multi-day assignment on a president of his choice. For reasons too numerous to list here, I just was not up to helping him. Fortunately, his Dad was. And in exchange, I happily donned coat and hat and gloves to walk Mac – usually Curt's job, typically something I avoid, but I was eager for the trade tonight.

So the dog and I are walking up the road to the clearing where the power lines run through. I looked up and I saw A SHOOTING STAR! – and also Orion. And I can never see Orion in the winter sky without remembering 5th/6th grade in Mrs. Cameron's class in "the Annex" at Millerstown Elementary School – we had what seemed like lots and lots of time (which I anticipated and loved) devoted to music education – and when she would take requests, the song "Orion" was in heavy rotation. (And so were "Lemon Tree" and "There's a Hole In My Bucket" – both of which make me want to gouge out my eardrums to this day. But ORION!) She was an excellent pianist (I'm sure she still is), and we gathered 'round the piano a couple times a week and sang: 

        Orion is a-Risin' 

You can see his stars a-blazin' in the middle of the clear-eyed country sky

And it's never too surprisin'

That the sky is still amazin' way out here where nothin' hides it from my eyes

CHORUS

Sleepin' outside in a bag as a kid seems like the best thing that I ever did

Ohhhhh

Chasin' the shadows and the tracks in the snow, don't ya know…..

The day is gettin' colder

And I really start to wonder why they're cloudin' all the country skies to gray

The world is gettin' older

You can hear it in the thunder and the rain might come and chase us all away

CHORUS

Ohhhh

The moon is on the wane

And it looks like it might rain or maybe snow

How are we to stay here

If there's no room left to play here or to grow

Don't ya know, don't ya know

I didn't appreciate the lyrics then, though they have stuck in my brain as a perpetual earworm since the early 1980s, but I see now that they were about growing up in the country, which I did, and appreciating the wide open spaces we were fortunate to have – spaces that enabled us to see the night sky in all its expansive vibrance.

God, I was so blessed.

So I'm here in the suburbs and I'm walking the dog, looking up at the stars and humming my 35+ year earworm, relishing in the shooting star that was surely placed there JUST FOR ME, and I start thinking about Peezer, at home working on some poster about President Kennedy, and how last night he was tooting his clarinet at his school's winter concert:

  Band concert 2-9-15
And you know what? That group of fourth graders, who began playing those instruments just four months ago, who get about 30 minutes A WEEK in instrumental music instruction (seriously, how can anyone possibly think that's enough??) – they played several recognizable melodies. As a group. TOGETHER. And whenever a group of ANY AGE HUMANS performs any kind of music together – even if it's a bunch of out-of-tune woodwinds – IT'S MAGICAL.

MUSIC. What a blessing. 

Whether it's "Hot Cross Buns" on the (flat) Clarinet (I guess they tune in middle school?), or "Orion" in my head by a bunch of farm kids in the 1980s, or The Steel Wheels in 2015 (Roots / bluegrass by this band of guys that just has my heart lately), music is a universal language… and so are the stars, and maybe presidential homework isn't, or maybe it is, but February, which I really have come to dread in the past decade – maybe February is not actually the worst month after all. All things considered.

 

Wild About Harry

BUT NOT THIS HARRY:

William-kate-wedding-harry 
Photo originally came from here

…although his impish grin and boyish good looks are certainly charming. But, while he's the Harry of the day, I've got another Harry on my mind.

Harry_connick 
Photo came from here.

It's no secret that for many years now, I've had a massive bit of a crush on Harry Connick Jr. I wrote about my early crush three years ago (check it out). I once wrote him a fan letter and he wrote back!

Of course, I'm happily married, and Soup Husband Curt (bless him) patiently tolerates my ridiculous celebrity crush. Which is only fair, because he has his own celebrity crush or two that I patiently tolerate in return.

Anyway, I have been known to joke that Harry is my "other husband." And that probably isn't very nice of me. Curt chuckles along and shakes his head and doesn't say with his out-loud voice how truly pathetic I am. Why, I have a perfectly good, REAL husband! Why would I want to manufacture a fantasy one?

Well, it's time I come clean. Harry's more than a fantasy; he's been lurking around, vying for my attention. For instance, when I visited my mom in Florida in February? There's something I didn't tell you:

MomMegHarry captioned 

And last Christmas? Harry got a little bit peeved:

HarryMcCormickXmas captioned 

But that was nothing compared to the Super Bowl in January, which happened to also be Curt's birthday:

CurtBirthday captioned 
Yeah, he has a bit of a jealous streak.

He was pretty happy with how our family room turned out though:

HarryFamilyRoom captioned 
What can I say? We were in a hurry.

I owe massive thanks to Foolery, whose recent post inspired me to such silliness, and whose mad photo editing skillz created these pictures.

I also owe a big apology to Chesapeake Bay Woman, who is no doubt going to be absolutely crushed when she views this photographic evidence that proves, once and for all, that Harry is not HER husband but mine. My other husband, I mean. Curt is still, and always will be, my husband. In real life.  Sorry, CBW. Can we still be friends?