Friday, October 3, 2014

Singing Mendelssohn

Last week Carmen worked with the student conductors only, preparing them to conduct various numbers from The Elijah.  The Notre Dame Repertory Choir had a week off.  One student I saw said, "You'll get a free afternoon."  I'm sure that was a bonus in her busy life, but I missed our two sessions.

Tuesday was an unexpected challenge.  I thought Mendelssohn would be easy to sing after the Victoria motets we had been doing.  It was a different kind of challenge.  One number had just two of us on the Alto II part; fortunately the other person, a young man, has a very strong voice!

On Thursday, after a rather poor night of sleep, I was so tempted to stay home and nap.  I had already made two trips to Notre Dame chauffeuring Jim and observing a group at the Snite Museum.  Parking is always a challenge and it is quite a walk from the B1 lot to the music building. But I convinced myself to go and I was so glad I did.

The words "Cast your burden upon the Lord" and "He that endureth to the end shall be saved" just found their way into my soul.  We sang them over and over again while Carmen encouraged the student conductors to watch their stances, their cut-offs,  and their eye contact but also to be aware of the beauty of the music and relate that to us.

It is 75 minutes of absolute concentration for me.  Sight-reading the notes, following the conductor and the markings in the music, matching my vowels with others, and ending my consonants with them--there is much to think about.  The sounds we make are beautiful.  It is a joy to blend my voice with these very good, young musicians.

I am fascinated by the process of Carmen's teaching these students conducting technique but also musicianship.  She is demanding but also affirming.  I feel for them as they try to respond to her suggestions on the spot with all of us watching and learning from their interactions with her.

I continue to feel a bit sheepish to be the only "adult" let alone "senior citizen" but I try to do my part and I do this for me!  Maybe one of these days, I'll act the role of the mother (or grandmother!) and make chocolate chip cookies for them.

When I got home again, and could rest a bit, it was impossible.  The music in my head would not stop!

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