I spent the evening at Alice Tully Hall with Sonia. This morning, with no advance thought or planning, I decided to get tickets to hear Poulenc’s Gloria at Lincoln Center. Manhattan Concert Productions was offering seats to community organizations for the shocking and amazing price of $5! How could I resist? I couldn’t. And, happily, Sonia was willing to postpone our original plans for the evening and join me!
I used to be a choral singer. In college I was in both the main choir and the chamber choir. I loved singing in chorus. Yes, in my fantasies, I also wanted to be a soloist, but the alone-ness of singing solo doesn’t have the same physical exhilaration, the surround-sound a chorus gives, doesn’t fill your head and chest with amazing, vibrating chords.
My favorite thing we sang in chorus was Mozart’s Requiem. Even all these years later, hearing any piece of it immediately flings me back to all the rehearsals, all the silly (and sometimes really offensive) alternate words we created for the choruses we had to rehearse a few times too many, all our director’s crazy temper tantrums — especially the time he threw a chair (into the empty auditorium, not at us!).
My favorite things we sang in chamber choir were Norman Dello Joio’s Vigil Strange and the Alice in Wonderland songs (“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail. “There’s a porpoise right behind us, and he’s treading on my tail …”). That was a good group for me, the best of chorus and soloing: I could hear myself so distinctly and still have the reverberation of a chorus running through me.
When I went to France, my French teacher invited me to join her choir. And that was great, but also ridiculously challenging: not only learning new music, but taking instruction in a language I didn’t really speak! There were a lot of things I loved that we sang in that choir. Too many to remember and name, but a few come quickly to mind: Mozart’s Alphabet Song, a wacky French song about the circus coming to town, a beautiful Spanish piece called “Linda Amiga,” and for Christmas we sang Handel’s Messiah, and that’s pretty much always fun.
So all of that was in my head tonight at Alice Tully Hall. All those memories, and the pleasure of that full-full sound. The program was full, too — the whole first half was many things other than Poulenc. But the Gloria was my reason for being there. I really like that piece. There are things about it that are weird and unlike-able, but I like those things, too.
My head and heart full-full-full. Not bad for five bucks!
Sing along with the rest of the slices at Two Writing Teachers!
(And there are still 14 slots left in The Memoir Project!