Amateur choral singing is a lovely exercise in trust. As we rehearse, we have to trust that we’ll find the notes (and that the notes will find us); we have to trust the support of those around us; we have to trust that the simultaneous-but-fragmented attacks on various passages in random pieces of music result in a concert. And it’s usually the concert – with an audience applauding in all the right places and the warm approbation afterward – that solidifies that trust, makes the base sturdier and the next set of rehearsals even more productive. And anticipating the fun of the next concert even . . . funner.
Especially interesting is the trust that builds between the choir and the conductor. My first concert season with VCS was also Jen’s first season as Artistic Director. She’d already firmly established herself as someone who does wonderful work, but nevertheless, she and the choir were still getting to know each other. While we gamely took direction from her, there was still an underlying sense of “Um. . . . OK. . . .” Acceptance goes a long way, but even then, trust must be built.
Flash forward three concerts, to the middle of a rehearsal to prepare for the season finale. We are marching diligently through a piece: the notes are there, the harmonies are there, we are increasingly mindful of the way our “r’s” sound. Jen stops us and begins to speak of . . . water. Of waves that are unceasing, but never sound the same way twice, of the rise and fall that is part of water’s natural rhythm, of fluidity, of sounds that ebb and surge. She asks us to start the piece over, and we sing again. The song is completely different and when we are through, some of us look at each other in astonishment.