Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Christmas Program-- and the close of my holiday performances (phew)

Sunday night I finished my 6th and final Christmas performance. Phew.... I played the Hallelujah Chorus on the organ for a Christmas concert. While I am quite capable at playing the organ, I'm a pianist- not "an organist"- by profession, so playing difficult music on the organ is always a bit nerve-wracking. Regardless, I got through the experience mostly unscathed. ;)

Sunday was also our ward choir Christmas program (not to be confused with my Cantico Christmas concert which was last Friday). Up until even two weeks ago, the ward choir Christmas program was striking fear into my heart. Ward choir in so many ways is always a crapshoot: you don't audition the singers, nobody has to come, everyone in the ward [church congregation] is busy with families and other church responsibilities. You don't have a ton of rehearsal time to begin with. And then pretty much every week you have a different configuration of people and you never know who is or isn't going to show up. That's a scary thing to face as a choir director and an admitted control freak.

I knew up front that the Christmas program was going to come soon after I had a baby so I decided that I was going to pare it way down and just choose really simple music this year. And I really fully intended to.... But I looked and looked and I just didn't find anything that really inspired me or that I felt like singing. So finally I threw caution to the wind and just chose music that I really loved. Some of it was very difficult for a non-audition church choir (think Mack Wilberg/Mormon Tabernacle Choir arrangement...), but I had an accompanist who could play it so I decided to do it anyway. It was challenging music. And about two weeks ago, I was thinking, "What have I done? There's no way we're going to pull off this music. The program is going to be a fiasco and it's going to be all my fault for choosing music that was just too difficult."

We barely pulled together our Mack Wilberg arrangement in time for our stake [multi-congregation] Christmas choir concert last week. But we pulled it off, even with our two main sopranos being either sick or out of town. On Saturday morning we had our final run-through rehearsal to prepare for our church program on Sunday. At that rehearsal something magical happened... it suddenly came together-- all of it. People knew their parts and we started making music. It touched me in a way that many choirs that are much more technically proficient haven't. These volunteer singers were singing to share their love of our Savior and joy at his birth. Their hard work over so many weeks had paid off: the result was beautiful.

Ward choir has its quirks. And I have to admit that sometimes it drives me crazy. There are days when I think that I just can't do this anymore-- one more rehearsal with only 6 people showing up and I'm just going to lose it. But then there are days like Sunday, when I realize how blessed I am to be directing a group of singers who, while they do not have extensive musical training, come together and give their all to make music that shares the message of God's love for us.


Rebecca said...

High Five for getting through it all!

Jadie said...

Well, that's just nice to hear! Glad we pulled it off--and thanks for putting YOUR heart and soul into it...you work us hard, but I, for one, have learned a ton. Love ya, K-kid!