Saturday, July 4, 2009

Recalling the honors chorus experience.

I still have a t-shirt from N.C.'s year 2000 high school honors chorus. It was one of the more memorable episodes of my high school career. I remember working on throatsinging techniques before and after my audition; I think we got out of school to travel up to Greensboro for the auditions,

I learned that I had made the cut when an acquaintance (who we'll call N.) pulled over and picked me up as I walked back from school one day. The results were posted up on the chorus room door around the end of that day, but I hadn't bothered to check before leaving, something N. was shocked by. I had made the main list, along with two other students (L. and E.), and three others had made the alternate list, including N. (Alternates usually went to honors chorus anyway.)

In retrospect, this was one of a series of episodes involving N. becoming frustrated with the fact that I could seem (or perhaps be) remarkably lazy and enjoy the sort of success he had to work obsessively hard to achieve. I will probably never know if he was jealous on some level, or simply considered it a criminal waste of rare talents. By the end of our time in high school, we had developed a strong and mutual dislike of each other.

Six of us going to honors chorus was quite unusual for Ms. D., and she was quite excited and pleasantly surprised - and it was an amazing experience. Never before had I sung with such a large group; never before had I rehearsed with a group that was so uniformly good at singing - so technically proficient, so responsive to direction. It was beautiful.

And yet, when I recall honors chorus, I don't always first remember the powerful use of dynamics the conductor put into play, or the fact that rehearsals were practically note-perfect; I remember the warmups, and having to sit down before all the other second basses had hit the audible bottom of their range. I had known there were lower basses than I; I rarely, however, experienced them in person. Here were several extraordinarily powerful basses with quite noticeably lower limits.

I was used to being a big frog in a small pond, so to speak; I was always one of the best, if not the best, low-rumbling basses in the choruses I sang in, and so, when I think of big frogs in little ponds, I think of honors chorus, when auditions filtered out any but the largest of big frogs, and being a more medium-sized frog for a change.

I suppose I'm still used to being a big frog in many other ways; changing to the larger pond of college didn't shrink me down much - or even at all - in some dimensions.

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