Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

07 May 2006

"Notre Dame Victory March"

It's a very peppy tune, which is appropriate, since it's a fight song. Although my daughter didn't like this one, I enjoyed singing it, much more than I thought I would. The driving, marching beat inspired me.

I was one of the very few people in my high school, or college, to know all the words to all the school songs. The only way to accomplish this, of course, is to belong to a choir. I loved choir so much. I started singing in my grade-school chorus in second grade, continuing straight through five and a half years of college, followed by a short break, then on to community choir for a couple years. From there I moved to Pittsburgh, and auditioning for a choir was one of the things (along with finding a women's spirituality group) that I did within the first three days I was here. I got lucky in college, and belonged to what was probably the best group for me, and I lucked out here, as well. I sang for four years with the Pittsburgh Camerata, a twenty four voice mixed choir singing mostly accapella works.

I had to sing alto with the Camerata, since the soprano section was filled, and the alto section was where the need was. My range accommodates that, for the most part, though it isn't my strength. In my ideal universe I sing second soprano, because I like singing high, but I also like singing harmony. In that universe I always have strong voices in my right ear, preferably a bass. I don't seem to hear as well out of my left ear, which I don't notice as much in things outside of singing with others. I have strengths I've built over the years as a choral singer, I think: I blend well. I pay attention. I love close harmonies and I have a reasonably good ear. I only know the mass in Latin because I sang it so many times in choir; I can also sing in German, French, and Italian, without much direction, and probably any other language with it. I have a great love for the choral repetoire: Medieval chant, all those lovely masses and requiems, madrigals, contemporary pieces--tonal and not so tonal, classically notated, and not-so.

I stopped singing with the Camerata when they got a new director, and I got pregnant. The two are not related, though the morning sickness I had early on in my pregnancy helped to make my debut with this new director less than stellar. I've kept in touch with folks who still sing in this group, which has continued on to be more of a semi-professional group, and it is way beyond my abilities, especially with the long break that I've had since then. For three of the last four years I've been singing with the adult singers at my daughter's school, leading them for the last two. That's something I manage only by the seat of my pants, though I've probably developed some basic skills that I take for granted at this point. I've tried to pass on the choral wisdom that I've gathered over the years, mixed heavily with charm and humor to cover my shortfalls. This semester the group consisted of nine women, and our sound came together with solidity and some grace. It's been very nice.

I do miss singing with men, though, and I miss having someone else do the conducting, and decision making. I want more of a challenge, but I'm not entirely sure how to go about finding it. None of the groups that I know of in town fit the bill. My ideal group would be small, no more than three voices to a part, accapella for the most part. Maybe starting with some madrigals, if we had to start from scratch, and then moving on from there--barbershop styles? Masses? Bluegrass? I'd love to do it all, frankly. It occurs to me now, that if I could ask for something non-tangible for my birthday, this would be it.

My husband wants the rest of the group to do Messiaen's 'Quartet for the End of Time' (cello, clarinet, and violin to his piano); I want a group to sing with that satisfies my own fantasy.


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