I had the privilege of singing with Nathan Bird and NorrSound Vocal Ensemble this last week in Minnesota and thoroughly enjoyed my time. The following are a few random reflections the concert brought about.
Collaborating is a gift (and a fun time!)
All of the singers for this event were alumni or currents students of Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN, as well as of the College Choir there. College Choir is one of the first places I experienced a sense of real community. Singing together brings you together (as all the “choir couples” can attest to ). The shared work, time, and then resulting music is a process that is hard to describe, but is so valuable. I am sure many groups with shared goals experience some of that same community, but I am always blessed to re-experience collaborating with other musicians and see the results that come from it. Somehow collaboration seems to make the whole more than the parts. It is no surprise that a lot of creative work comes from places where artists are gathered together and fan the flames in each other’s work. It was good to sing together and laugh together and make nervous humming staying-warmed-up vocal noises together.
Sometimes I get frustrated by how much time it takes to merely stay presentable and hygienic- showers, hair brushing, sweeping up the hair off the floor, taking out the garbage. Never mind eating and getting dressed. I have been trying to tell myself that it is part of the larger work of “holding back the forces of chaos”- haha. Well, I realized Thursday I should have trimmed my bangs again when they got stuck in my eyelash in the middle of singing a heartfelt rendition of Shelter with a camera closeup on my face. I decided the graceful exit was keeping my eyes closed in a meditative look.
Aging can be helpful
Nathan graciously commented that my voice sounded better than on the album, which I regard as surprising given my sporadic vocal work over the past 8 mo. since completing the recording. It is rather sad, I know. In any case, if it’s true that my voice has improved, it is most likely due to aging, i.e. maturing. So, just thought I would give a shout out to the much maligned process known as aging- who knew you could do good things?
Home is a complex word
I grew up in Minnesota, and moving away has identified it as my home, the place I come from and know well. Going back for Christmas and then for this concert are chances to be in a familiar place and more importantly see familiar faces. But the fact is I no longer have a home there, though at the same time I have many home-like places. At the airport I told my sister-in-law that we should go home, by which I meant my in-laws’ place. I went to my parents’, a place that was my home for a while, and then said I was going home when I headed to my lodging for the week. And at the end of it all, I was glad to go home to Kentucky and my husband, my dog and apartment, back to a schedule and employment. One of my piano teachers talked about a “home and away” conception of music. To be understandable and effective, music has to have a sense of going somewhere and then returning. If we were always “away” in terms of chords, melodic line and intensity there would be anxiety and stress in the music. If we are always “home” there is no variety and a sense of being stuck and oppressed by sameness. I am glad to have gone somewhere, and now I am glad to be home.