Working in Concert

hands holding puzzle piecesThis evening, I am hemming my chorus dress with packing tape. It arrived too late for me to be able to find a seamstress and get it done the right way, but the concert is tomorrow and something has to be done so I don’t trip myself (or anyone else).

It’s been a long time since I was involved in a choir or concert where we were striving for the level of artistry and polish we’re attempting here.

The last couple rehearsals have been hard ones as we try to get all the pieces to come into place together. Today’s dress rehearsal was especially high on the stress factor.

New location with entirely different acoustics, the first time all the players — us, pianist, soloists, organist — were all together. Lots of logistical challenges: figuring out where the soloists will be, trying to get visual communication between the conductor and all the limbs of this messy musical octopus. And never mind the whole rigmarole of transitioning the church from worship space to concert formation back to worship space again under very tight time pressure.

This is nothing new. There’s a reason there’s so many cliches and truisms about rocky dress rehearsals. I have had similar experiences before, and if I continue this re-engagement with music and performing, I am sure I will have similar experiences in the future.

But it’s an interesting exploration to watch myself in this setting now and reflect on the ways I used to internalize the stress and perfectionism of these endeavors. Now it’s kind of as if I’m holding it a bit more loosely.

And by that I don’t mean at all to suggest I’m slacking off. As in years and choirs past, I am still doing everything in my considerable power and training to model exceptional attention to the conductor and strong musicality, especially with the dynamics and diction that are so needed in this particular concert locale.

But where in the past, I would feel a certain level of pressure and superiority in that — feeling as if I needed to be extra “on point” to make up for my peers’ inattention — now there’s a softer feeling to it.

For better or worse, I’d be lying if I denied having some ongoing awareness of ways in which I am often more “on point” than some of my peers with the technical details. (After the years of choral experience and formal training I’ve had, that’s kind of inevitable.) However, there’s not the same tone of judgement that I used to hold with that. Instead, the focus is more towards being the best piece of the texture I can be, trusting that my little contribution will organically aid the whole.

It’s good to be singing in a group again.

But now I need to finish “hemming” that dress.


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