Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Introduction

Just to give a short introduction of myself, I have been singing in choirs for the last 11 years and since I am only 22...that is half my life. I began my choral journey with my junior choir audition. I dreaded the thought of singing for a stranger but I understood that auditions were a necessary evil of the musical world. My family reassured me by telling me that the audition was simply there so that they could place my voice type within the choral surroundings. I sang "There is a Castle on a Cloud" from Les Miserables. Prior to this, it was ingrained into me that karaoke and Andrew Lloyd Webber were at the core of musical experience; thus, the reason for my musical theatre choice. It was either that or an extremely outdated Cantonese pop ballad. I remember the intense nerves I had going into that intimidating college room but the warm presence of the lovely conductor calmed my nerves and I sang to the imaginary audience she gestured to in the far corner of the room. Upon completion of the audition, she used vocabulary slightly advanced for me to grasp at that time, but it led to me believe that she would be honoured to have me in the choir. I remember my mother asking me:

"Did you get in?" and I replied,

"I think so..."

She looked at me impatiently, clearly unsatisfied with the ambiguity of my answer, but it seemed as if things were falling to place as I received my registration materials in the mail.

Extreme shyness gripped me as I entered the first junior choir rehearsal since I realized that I knew no one in the room. I was the lone Asian girl in a sea of sociable choristers who were reuniting from the previous choral year. Of course, I was not the only new chorister, but my egocentric mind was not able to acknowledge the other choristers who were feeling the same way I was. However, I received a great sense satisfaction and personal belonging when I spotted my black music binder on a seat in the third row of the alto section. Just knowing that this particular seat was reserved specifically for me eased my nerves considerably. It is similar to emerging from a flight and descending upon the arrivals area in an unknown city. You might be slightly anxious since you are hoping that the person who has promised to pick you up is there. At the moment you see them, a wave of comfort flows through you since you realize that they are there to receive you and no one else. The plain, green chair in the rehearsal room was my welcoming person and I was happy to take my rightful spot in the choir. One of the first activities we did in choir was to form a large circle and introduce ourselves. The conductor revealed a prop to help initiate the icebreaker: a microphone. Seeing the plastic microphone made my heart flutter as it was truly a sign from the karaoke Gods that I was on the right path. The microphone was passed from chorister to chorister and we were instructed to introduce ourselves by singing into it:

"I am _____".

However, upon demonstration by the conductor who sang each syllable of the phrase with an alternating major third interval, every chorister copied her musical line and sang their names the exact same way. Of course, lacking nerve and creativity, I was no exception to this pattern. Thankfully, that introduction did not leave me scarred and I tried to maintain a low profile for the rest of the rehearsal.

I do not recall whether it was that first day in rehearsal, but a gentle looking girl with gorgeous curly hair combatted the returning chorister tendency to alienate newcomers and introduced herself to me as Jenny. I remember trying to be reciprocate her friendliness in my timid way and she also introduced the Indian girl, Nadia, next to her who gave me a smile. I am proud to say that to this day Nadia remains one of my closest friends and she is not alone in this position since I have forged many lasting friendships with fellow choristers. However, I will leave those stories for another day.

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SAFAHL said...
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