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  I love choir.  The people, the music, the practising and the good stress of being put in a position where one has to focus and do a myriad of things well.  How am I standing? Is my posture correct, is my belly loose and larynx low?  Am I breathing correctly?  What is the next pitch I need to come in on, is my counting accurate?  Why are the damn alto’s out of tune *again*?

Very stream of consciousness I realize; but it is what goes on when you are singing.  When performing though all those thoughts(hopefully) melt down into just two.  “Am I producing a beautiful sound?”, and “do I have a connection with my conductor?”.  Life is good when singing if these two conditions exist.

I’m still learning about singing and getting to know my body and how it reacts.  The rub is that singing, in theory, is a uncomplicated process.  The problem is that we have learned and habituated to a whole passel of bad habits that need to be unlearned so the natural tone and splendour of our voice can be unlocked.

Undoing the naturally wrong way is the complex part of learning to sing.  It’s hard and frustrating and I love it. :)  But that is just the technical/mechanical bits about why I like singing.  We have not even touched the really important features of singing which transcend the mere production of notes.

We sang Libera Me from Faure’s Requiem at the annual Kaslo singing work shop.

The Latin text with English translation.

VI. Libera meBaritone solo
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna
in die illa tremenda
Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra
Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem
Deliver me, o Lord, from everlasting death on that dreadful day when the heavens and the earth shall be moved
when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire
Tremens factus sum ego et timeo
dum discussio venerit atque ventura ira

I quake with fear and I tremble
awaiting the day of account and the wrath to come.
Dies illa dies irae
calamitatis et miseriae
dies illa, dies magna
et amara valde
That day, the day of anger,
of calamity, of misery,
that day, the great day,
and most bitter.
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine
et lux perpetua luceat eis
Grant them eternal rest, o Lord,
and may perpertual light shine upon them.
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna
in die illa tremenda
Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra
Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
Deliver me, o Lord, from everlasting death on that dreadful day when the heavens and the earth shall be moved
when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

When you sing a work like this, you cannot help but be moved and drawn into the music.  Once you get past worrying about singing the right notes and counting (hopefully you’ve practiced and are doing it right) the magic begins.

Listen again to the soloist set the hauntingly rich sombre tone and establish the theme for the piece: “Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in die illa tremenda…” (Deliver me, O Lord from ever lasting death on that dreadful day…)  You become part of something bigger, something more important in which you play but a small part.  Harmonies resonate and surround you, the audience leans forward. There is no going back now…

Singing a part becomes more like weaving a tapestry, with you adding your fine thread to the work producing beauty, artistry and to borrow a term from the woo world, raising *Wind Horse.  I apologize in advance to my rationalist readership, yet I cannot find a better description of being in choir while singing a pulchritudinous work that enlightens not only the audience but the members of the choir as well . It is sharing beauty on such a grand level, it humbles one and yet, increases the yearning to do and share more.

I’m so grateful and lucky to be able to participate in a choir and I believe that it is an experience that should not be missed by anyone.  So, get out there people and join your local community choir, you’ll be so much richer in experience and joy.  That is all. :)

(*)WINDHORSE:  the experience of raising windhorse, [“Ta”]: raising a wind of delight and power and riding on, or conquering, that energy. … The personal experience of this wind comes as a feeling of being completely and powerfully in the present. The horse aspect is that, in spite of the power of this great wind, you also feel stability. you are never swayed by the confusion of life…excitement or depression. You can ride on the energy of your life. So windhorse includes…practicality and discrimination, a natural sense of skill. This quality is like the four legs of a horse, which make it stable and balanced… you are not riding an ordinary horse, you are riding windhorse.”

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