Saturday, June 17, 2017

Silence From the Backseat

Rae listens raptly as the tenors and basses rehearse "One Last Song"

A couple of days ago, our choir director gave each choir member a CD recording of our last concert. I’ve been listening to it in my car. My own voice coming out of the speakers. It’s quite a feeling.

Yesterday morning, I had my kids in the car for the first time since I popped the CD in, and they asked me, “Mommy, what is this music?”. I told them it was my choir, it was a live performance, it was me. 

They were listening to me. Coming out of the speakers.
Rae and daughter mid-dance, my house

“It is? Really, Mommy? That’s you singing?”

Other than on Youtube, they’ve never seen me perform - since I’m not willing to put other audience members through the experience of sitting near a ten-year-old ADHD boy whose current musical tastes are electronica, Metallica, and AC/DC, not a capella madrigals and sacred Renaissance choral singing.

Not to mention his can’t-sit-still-or-listen four-year-old sister.

“Yes, Honey, that’s me singing! That’s why you get a babysitter once a week on practice night, my Loveys. You know, when she came over last Saturday when it was a Mommy weekend? That’s what I was out doing. I was making this music - this exact music - this is a recording of that night. Those are real people clapping.”
Concert night 2017, Rae is back row, to the right

Silence from the back seat.

After several long moments, a quiet admission from my son: “Wow. That sounds really good, Mom.”

I’ve impressed a ten-year-old boy. Now that is a tough critic to win over. Score!

This morning, as I was dropping them off at school and daycare, my youngest started singing along. “Mommy, I like the vezyvzayvuzy part!” (The faster end section of “Au Joly Jeu”, which is more accurately “Laissez, laissez, laissez trut avant” - and for those interested in such things, translates roughly into a lover leading someone on!).
Rae, at left, follows the music while Pierre Directs the group from the middle

Of course she doesn’t understand the words; it’s sung in fast eighth notes, repeating words, in four-part harmony, in Old French. Not surprisingly, my four-year-old can’t quite keep up with a 16th Century madrigal upon the second hearing of it… but she came close! And when the song was over, she asked me to play it again.

And again.

“Guess what!” she calls out to the daycare provider as soon as she hops out of the car. “My Mommy sings in a choir! A real one!” And off she goes, dancing, hopping, twirling, singing.
Yup, a real choir

After our goodbyes, I climb back in the car, and the music starts up again. I can hear myself clearly, especially in the several songs we have that are in six- or eight-part harmony, where I don’t blend into the rest of the soprano section, but am just one of four second-sopranos. I can hear myself smiling in the high floating sections of “Resonet In Laudibus”, I can hear myself looking out over the audience in the powerful soaring sections of “Abendlied”, I can hear my sad face in the slow, low mourning of “I Am Not Yours”.
We dare you to sing this without crying

What’s more, I can hear our collective hearts and souls, poured into the excellence, the hard work, the attunement we find in each other, in this music. This music that we recreate, in real time, in real life, each and every time we sing.

I have helped make beauty, I have given beauty to the world. And that is a very, very beautiful thing.

Don't miss our final performance of the 2017 Spring season, 
a Free Will Offering Concert - TODAY at at 2:30 pm (June 17 2017)
 --- Stittsville United church, 6255 Fernbank Road, Stittsville, On

Hope to see you there!!

Please DONATE to support our 40th year events for everyone! 
All Donations receive a charitable receipt.


  1. Excellent post you've written, Rae! You've managed to capture exactly how it feels to sing a really, really great choir, and in a way that anybody can understand, whether they've sung in a choir before or not!

    1. You might consider emailing her. She sent me the text and I created the post.

  2. Replies
    1. See my comment above. You may want to tell Rae by email she can respond to comments here without having to sign in.

  3. Wow Rae. Je n'aurais pas été capable de le dire aussi bien. Merci. I'll send you an e=mail.


You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Holly :)

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