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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Back to choir once again

In great part thanks to my mother, I've sung in choirs for a large part of my life. I have, without a doubt, a "choir voice," and enjoy the opportunity to blend in and be a small part of something great. I remember singing in a children's choir somewhere in Princeton when I was 8 or 9, especially when we went Christmas Caroling at an ice rink I think. I think that was the only time in my singing career that I've had a solo, and I was hooked. My first two years of highschool I spent 45 minutes every day in choir, and participated in at least five separate concerts. At Notre Dame I was always too terrified of the audition and the time commitment to try out for one of the "real" choirs, but really enjoyed singing in the Spanish choir. We called it Coro and we sang for Spanish mass on Sundays and at some special events. It was completely student-led, and very informal; we didn't even have music, just binders full of typed-up lyrics. If someone didn't know how the song went, we didn't sing it! It was really lots of fun. My attendance dropped off sophomore year, and since then I haven't really been singing at all.

Until now. In September I auditioned (singing the lucky song that got me into the Girls' Select choir sophomore year of highschool: "Puff the Magic Dragon") for La Chorale Polyphonique de Casablanca-- an amateur choir that does a very good job of sounding professional. A close friend of Othman's mom, Marie, (who actually traveled with her husband Jamal all the way to our South Dakota wedding) has sung with the choir for years. I went with my mother in law to watch their concert last May and put simply, I was blown away. It was an hour-plus of absolute, cathartic joy. I went up to Marie immediately afterwards begging her to help me get involved as well.

True to her word, this September Marie put me in touch with the choir director Marie-Claire, who is incidentally the mother of one of Othman's best friends from his schooldays. She is incredibly talented, works extremely hard and has been organizing and directing the choir with absolutely no pay for more than ten years. She really is inspirational. Right now we're working on arrangements of "Te Deum" (Karl Jenkins), "The Battle of Jericho" (spiritual), "I've got Rhythm" (George and Ira Gershwin), and are about to start a monster of a song called "Les Djinns". She just sent us the link below to begin getting a feel for it. The choir focuses on three areas of music: classic choir music, world music and more traditionally Moroccan music. There is only one concert a year, in May, but huge amounts of work go into it.  

Sitting in my alto seat next to Marie (conveniently also an alto), creating absolutely gorgeous music with people from so many places (Morocco, France, England, Denmark etc) is such an uplifting experience. It makes me wonder how I lived without singing for so long. It's like therapy for free! Othman can attest to that-- when he picks me up at almost 10pm on Monday nights after a 2 hour rehearsal, I'm invariably in a fabulous mood. There's something so special about singing with others, even (or perhaps especially) for those of us who aren't particularly talented. A few months back Alli sent me this incredibly interesting NPR program that deals with the transformation people go through as they sing in groups, how it allows people to cope with life better, and why we react like that. Many callers relate their personal choir stories during the show and share how singing has changed their lives for the better. It may not be the most common of topics, but for anyone that has been in a choir before, every word will ring true.

Here's  a video of "O Fortuna" as sung at the concert last May, which we'll begin working on again next practice. If any of you remember Marie from the wedding, you'll see her during close-ups of the right side.


  1. How fun! Sounds amazing. I love Faure (his Requiem is one of the most amazing choral pieces existing), and this piece is also pretty mind-blowing!

    I read a similar article recently in the Polish press about how singing in a choir is one of the best, most 'therapeutic' hobbies/passions you can have.

    Say hi to Marie, and enjoy! :)

  2. Beautiful! Yes, yes! Music is an incredible thing. No wonder through my years of child-raising I needed my choir evenings--thank God for dad who was always, 100% supportive! It sounds incredible, lovey! I found Marie and Bia and I tried to imagine you right next to her this coming May!