It is hard to think that last night was my last performance with our high school Chamber Choir. Out of the fifteen of us, ten of us are seniors. I was excited (and slightly terrified) to see that our concert finale had gathered a full house. It was our director’s last performance (darn retirement!) as well, which made in that much more special.
We started out with Ysaye Barnwell’s Wanting Memories. We have sung several of her compositions, and I think everyone enjoys performing them. Mostly a capella, her compositions combines rhythmic harmonies with sweet floating melodies. Wanting Memories was especially poignant as it was our last performance under W.’s direction. The song is (obviously) about wanting memories of a person who has taught you to “see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.” Harmonies, rhythms and the melody meld beautifully, creating a heart-thrumming song exploring the emotions of remembrance and beauty. The Chamber Choir has always seen the work of Dr. Barnwell to be rather complicated (you have those who sing melody, soprano, alto, tenor, bass as well as those who skip around to fill in the gaps), but at the last moment, when we’re warming up in the hallway between the music room and the library, somehow it comes together wonderfully – our voices blend near perfectly, we grab the cues properly and have just the right amount of vibrato in our voices. The result is awesome. We have some songs when we walk off stage wanting to bang our heads against the wall, or drown in the nearby water fountain, but when we end with Dr. Barnwell’s work, be it Breathes or Wanting Memories, we always come out with a music-high. It is then we realize we’re a small rag-tag group of singers, but, dang, we sound pretty good.
We followed up Wanting Memories with a little gospel and a little classic rock: Joyful, Joyful from Sister Act II, Down to the River (to Pray) and Don’t Stop Believin’ (the Glee version). We have a tendency to think that our performances are merely pedestrian, so imagine our surprise when the audience went a little wild! (as wild as the audience of a high school musical performance can get, anyway)
After I finally got home, I thought of all the fun times we’d had in Chamber Choir. Last year, it was newly established, and we entered the 2009-2010 school year with only one performance (and a half, counting the 5 minute graduation song) under our belts. This year not only did we participate in every concert, as well as the annual Cabaret, we also traveled to Philadelphia to perform and compete (and have a blast).
And because I am a photography bug, here are some photos:
We stopped at the Benjamin Franklin Science Museum on the way to the hotel.
And we sat on the steps of that same museum (right across from the bench in National Treasure where Riley sits and sends the little boy into the museum for answers to the code!).
And I wore orange shoes.
We all performed, and the marching band marched. The Lacross players were jealous.
We were so tired at the end of competition day that we couldn’t dress ourselves properly.
The next day, we gazed in awe at artistic interpretations of freedom and liberty found in the Liberty Museum in the Historic District of Philadelphia.
We scouted out all the sites in National Treasure in hopes that Nicholas Cage would appear… He didn’t show.
We took photos.
We enjoyed the flowers.
We enjoyed the unexpected sunshine.
And we took home silver!
And we brought home a bunch of new memories to add to the old: impromptu jam sessions, jokes, eating cookies and fighting over the last grapes, singing Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells in the hallway minutes before performances, rocking out in the little hallway between the library and the music room, grinning as W. made jokes with his back to the audience in an attempt to make us smile, dancing on the library tables in uniforms, and all the craziness involved in being high school musicians.
I think all of us, especially the Class of 2010, will recall these memories with fond regard. Don’t Stop Believin’ just won’t ever be the same.
(sorry for the rather longwinded post!)