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.
And 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!