the may apples stood on risers in the forest, singing to spring, singing to any audience who might be there, singing their glorious song. just like a choir. unified. united. elated to be in harmony. creating four-part jubilation to be alive. making music.
the singtolive choir stood on risers in the sanctuary of the beautiful church, directly in front of the organ pipes. their joy was palpable and, if i closed my eyes as they sang their program of the great american songbook, i could imagine the record albums of my parents playing and the choirs of 33rpm singing into our living room. they were cohesive and gently exploring the expanse of the songs chosen for the evening. and then, at the end of the concert – this concert dedicated to breast cancer survivorship – the singers left the risers and came out to stand among us, the audience.
to say that their last song was touching would be an understatement. a trademark of this marvelous group, why we sing was exquisitely performed. we all had eye contact with singers surrounding us. you could feel hearts swelling and tears forming. they delivered this emotional piece like no other preceding it in the program. i whispered to david, “this is the stuff.”
there is a lot of choir music ‘out there’. for the decades of my career as a minister of music, i was shipped an enormous number of catalogs, of listings, of cds with samples of songs. and then, there were charts to study, trends in music. and then, arrangements and reviewing lyrics and the range of my singers – in note as well as in degree of difficulty. i reviewed all this music always seeking that which would resonate, that which would help a person’s heart and mind connect with their faith, with the questions they had in this world, with good intentions and their community. it’s not a small responsibility to choose that which a choir – any choir, any worship band, any ukulele band, any choral ensemble – will sing in public – no matter the venue.
heidi and i stood in front of thousands of people through the time we worked together, performing “celebrate sweet life” – our breast cancer survivorship programs. with audiences of 35,000 in new york’s central park to hundreds in a medical center to a few thousand in the chicago sun with lance armstrong’s tour of hope to a more intimate group in pjs at md anderson to sharing a long island stage with hillary clinton to oncology pharmaceutical sales conference in puerto rico, it was our privilege to share messages – of hope, of healing, of making a difference for each other, of being alive – with audiences all over the country.
there is a video from one of our performances that touches me each time i see it. it is a bit blurry, not captured with the best of equipment. yet, at the end, as the audience has risen to their feet, there is a man in the foreground. as heidi speaks her last words and i sing the last lyrics of one of my songs, this man wipes at his eyes, stirred. and each time – no matter how many times i have viewed this – i am profoundly moved.
the may apples – gleeful in their rising out of the eradicated forest, now clear of invasives and plants with ill intent – stand proudly. they are furled at first and one might think they are quiet, meek, hiding. but as the sun warms them they arise. they will give their performance their all, joining together as one umbrella of green. the trillium will watch in the forest as audience members. and then, pure white flowers will form under the may apple parasols. and the trillium will turn to each other and whisper.
in the moments of performances under my choir baton or concert stages under my feet, there has been nothing quite like thinking that someone out there is whispering to the person next to them, “this is the stuff.”
read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY
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