(Written on September 13 and posted on September 14)
Tomorrow marks the final day of the first full week of classes. It is also the date of the first memory check for Westminster Choir (yes, you are counting correctly. It is our third rehearsal). When I first joined the choir last fall, I was absolutely in awe that we were expected to memorize music so quickly, and we would be held accountable for our work in a very public fashion. Even more amazing, though, was how seriously every ensemble member was about doing his or her part – everyone wanted to contribute, and nobody was willing to be left behind even when it meant carving out extra practice time in very busy schedules.
It is likely that members of WC 2012-13 will be gathering in small groups all over campus tomorrow, checking parts with whatever other voice parts are available. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to Westminster Choir –- this afternoon members of Westminster Kantorei were singing through music before rehearsal to ensure that the ensemble time could be spent making music rather than learning pitches.
There are also non-singing WC meetings happening tomorrow, wherein committee members will be planning the activities for our retreat next weekend. Next Friday afternoon we will travel, caravan-style, to a camp in northern New Jersey to spend a weekend singing, eating, bonding and not sleeping. Before that happens, though, there are food and driving sign-ups to create, organize and distribute, activities to plan, materials to purchase… All of these elements are coordinated and executed by students, who do it for the love of the community. Kathleen Maguire Lushman (Katy) is the graduate assistant for WC, and she is a gifted facilitator who manages to keep everyone on their toes while ensuring each person autonomy and creative license – a great combination of characteristics in a leader!
(I know the main subject of this blog is the Westminster Choir, but I pray you will forgive my indulgences into the extraordinarily rich musical life of the college outside of the ensemble every once in a while. As I was writing this blog post, a beautiful bit of Facebook love was exchanged between students who attended the High School Vocal Institute/ Organ Institute camps at Westminster last July. The musicians at these camps formed a strong community- a family- in two short weeks, and the continue to communicate and share their lives with one another on a Facebook group page created by and for them. Earlier tonight, one of the campers asked if anyone could help her remember the lyrics to a camp song that was taught to us by other campers [called ‘People Who Make Music Together’]. She wanted to teach it to people at her school but couldn’t remember all of the lyrics. Within moments, campers and counselors typed out the song, line by line, one person at a time, in perfect order. I found myself singing as I read the lines and imagined our VI/OI family in various parts of the country connected through the music and a Facebook thread. It is an encouraging and beautiful thing to know that the love and music we shared at Westminster is thriving in high schools all over the country, and that each person who experienced it first hand has the chance to show that love in his or her home community.)