Weekend miscellania

Saturday listing of ongoing events…  My apologies for any repetition, but these are all dear to my heart:

  • Public release of a new website this week, by my company, North Forty Road Web Design. Check out www.flodellexteriors.com. Feel free to contact me if you have any website questions – I’m always glad to help!
  • Auditions for adults and children can be scheduled at any time for December Lessons and Carols and Spring 2011 Concert: www.musicatfirst.org
  • Sunday Worship at First Congregational, Bristol, CT is our second Sunday in “summer mode,” featuring our Summer Singers.  This was a great success last week, with several enthusiastic singers.  Are you a frustrated choral singer and would like to join in?  Join us in the choir loft at 9:00 to sing a simple anthem!

Music brought us together

My wife and I met on this day, years ago, through the musical connections we had at the time. It was a powerful moment, because we each had a preconceived notion of what the other would be like – she the “group president” … I the “organist” – and were shocked by the immediate connection.

We were talking last evening about how sharing music is something we have often taken for granted, and how important it is (and what a gift it is) that we share such similar tastes in the music we make and listen to. We listened to several songs by Sting, who has woven through much of our life together. We talked about some of the great choral music experiences we have had and the dreams of music to be made in the future.

I often put music and God in the same category, calling music a gift from God. But, in truth, I think they are one in the same.  Music is miraculous in its creation, and has caused powerful connections and brought love to many.  It can only be divine.

Preparing for a new season

(Yes, this is a bit of a commercial.) Auditions are underway for one of my very favorite things: the First Choristers are a growing group of auditioned singers, from grade 4 through grade 8, who commit to a weekly rehearsal, and then sing alongside adults in concert.  The music they sing is not “children’s choir” music, but full-blown choral music – providing the soprano part for the great works of music we prepare for the December Lessons and Carols Festival at church and, next year, a new Spring concert event. The benefits of this rehearsal and performance time are huge: Along with the music itself, kids get the opportunity to learn how to work together as a team, basics of choral singing and music reading, and how music is such a critical part of our spiritual self.  I’m excited that we already have a number of new children auditioning for this fall season.

In addition to the children’s aspect of our programs, we have offered adults an opportunity to sing with the choir for these special events.  Over the past two years, we have built a core of singers from outside the church membership that have joined with us for Lessons and Carols.  Once again, our upcoming events are open to anyone Grade 9 through adults, by audition.  Teamwork, commitment, and glorious music sung in praise are all hallmarks of singing for these concerts, and any choir member can tell you that the fun and community we share in our rehearsal time is something you’ll find you can’t live without!  Detailed info can be found at www.musicatfirst.org.

Celebrating our musical family

Yesterday we celebrated the end of a truly great choir season at church with a party at the home of two beloved choir members.  The choir is “family” in so many different ways. In fact, in some cases we see each other more than our “real” extended family, and share in more of life’s ups and downs than even the closest in our lives. We get to make music together, which requires great trust in each other. Music is not just a technical thing, but emotional as well, so we also need to feel safe in sharing that in a group setting.  When it works (and in this choir it does!), the result is an amazing group of people, first, and the secondary benefit of awesome music-making.

So, it is with some sadness that we take a break for the summer.  It’s like we’re taking an extended vacation: Yes, it’s fun and necessary, but I’ll sure be glad to be back “home” in the fall!

Weekend miscellania

Saturday listing of ongoing events…  Some fall into the “Shameless Self-promotion” category, for which I apologize, but may be enjoyable for weekend web surfing nonetheless.

  • Auditions for adults and children can be scheduled at any time for December Lessons and Carols and Spring 2011 Concert: www.musicatfirst.org
  • Sunday Worship at First Congregational, Bristol, CT is Children’s Day, which will include reading and presentations by our church school, as well as a very cool medly of traditional church school songs sung by the Cherub Choir.

Visit with inspiration

Yesterday’s visit with my good friends from several years past was a great reminder that there is so much ahead of us, and our attitude can completely decide how things will be.

We visited folks who sing in the choir at a church I served just after college. They were a wonderful support there: she was an assistant organist and pianist, page turner, organ student; he was a source of sage advice and humor, and constant reminders that it was “their job” to train me, sometimes by fire!  (He was right.) We have kept in touch over the years, and so I brought my son yesterday to visit them in their wonderful home in rural CT, where the sky is massive above an open meadow, and the birds and wildflowers are the majority of the neighbors.

Here’s what was truly inspiring: These folks are not “young” by the calendar – I’ve forgotten how old, but know they were certainly born well before my parents – but they are younger in spirit than most of my own contemporaries.  And their youth comes from simple pleasures, not world travel or fancy possessions, but enjoyment of the simple beauty that surrounds them – her collection of musical instruments, several of which she has built herself; his love of airplanes, evidenced by the small models that float above the garden. A recent accident that proved to be a setback in their lives involved a toboggan!

I, for one, can get bogged down with the constant demands of life, and then completely miss the joy and beauty that is right in front of me.  Days like yesterday remind me to look a little closer, see the perfection in every detail, and live in it.

Final rehearsal of the season

First Church Choir - Palm Sunday 2010

Last night, my wonderful church choir rehearsed for the final time this season.  Despite a slow start (I know for me it was tough finding the energy to sit in a room for an hour and a half when it was so gorgeous outside!), some hard work was done, some beautiful and exciting music was made, and we even attained some new heights in our general ability to find more meaning in the music.

To me, the weekly rehearsal is a more powerful community experience even than what we do on Sunday morning:  the voices raise together as one, and even though we are preparing to sing “in public”, we are singing just for each other – a safe circle of friends. Summertime is a necessary and welcome break from the planning and scheduling, but I will miss that time together each week.

It has been said that singing is the single best thing you can do to take care of yourself and improve your life (see this study conducted last year by Chorus America). I have seen that in action and have been part of it; it is truly humbling to lead such an important yet intangible part of life!