Thursday, February 4, 2010

Choral Apathy

I have put off writing this post for a while because, frankly, it kills me to be talking about it. For as long as I have been in choir, I have enjoyed the perks of being in a choir from free food to the chance to tour amazing places.

In the beginning years of the Chamber Choir, my first tour was to Regina SK, after that was Vancouver BC, following that was my first international tour where we went to Wales for the Llangollen Music Festival, then there was a mini choir exchange tour to Toronto ON. Next, I was off on my next large international trip: Hungary, Vienna, and Prague for the Bela Bartok Festival. Then I had a few years break but I still had the chance to go on a mini trip to Victoria B.C. for a day to sing at a music conference. However, after a few years in Belle Canto, we were off to Cork Ireland to compete in the Cork International Choral Festival! Then I was extremely lucky to be able to return to Cork the following year because the University of Alberta Madrigal singers entered the same festival as well! Yes, I have been extremely lucky to travel to so many places. Yes, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to sing in amazing venues. Yes, touring is a luxury and I have been given an experience that some people will never be exposed to. It still hurts though. Since I haven't explained myself very well "it" refers to the fact that Belle Canto is off to compete in the Seghizzi Choral Festival in Italy this July... and I'm not going.

This is the first time that I have been left out of a choir tour.

Don't get me wrong, it has nothing to do with the choir, I know they would all be happy to have me there, but it's the first time where "life" has interfered with my choral passions. The reason I will not be able to head off to Italy and have wonderful choral adventures is that my Masters program is packed with clinic and courses that I need to complete, which, coincidentally, runs until the end of July. For a few months in the summer last year, after accepting my place in the program, I toyed with the idea of going to Italy.... maybe even just for the weekend! Show up, compete in the classes, and then head back to Canada without missing on any major coursework or clinic time! My mind buzzed with this possibility! Maybe it was possible to have the best of both worlds??? Alas, the stress of not knowing what I would be missing until July arrived and by that point already having my tickets booked just didn't cut it for me. Also, I usually extend my trip and travel after the competition (since I'm already over there) but a 3-day weekend blitz would not really allow for that. I had to make a decision... and school won out. However, I have to admit that when I received my acceptance call from the University, after the initial shock from that message died down, the FIRST thing that popped into my head was: "That means I can't go to Italy."


For a second I felt like declining my Masters acceptance! I realize that may sound a bit sick to some of you readers. Clearly, I did not act on this natural choral reflex of mine (my parents would have probably slaughtered me after first giving me a raging lecture on how I shamed them and all their efforts to raise me). I have slowly come to terms with the fact that I won't be able to go, trying to find trivial details to make me feel better like "That means I don't have to fundraise like crazy this year! Whoot $2500 saved!", "Nobody knows where Seghizzi is anyway!", and "The performance venue doesn't look that nice". All in attempt to placate my silently suffering self.

I have never been through such a bout of choral apathy. It is a deadly thing. It's the crippling unmotivation that is getting me. I feel like I have nothing to work towards this year. Why should I memorize that piece? I won't be able to sing it anyway. Why should I go to that performance? I don't need performance experience anyway. Maybe it's even better for me not to sing since I'm just throwing off the group balance that actually will be touring. I've always known it's important to have a common goal in choir, whether it is for a particular concert or competition, but once that end goal is no longer in sight, it's hard to motivate yourself to continue what you're doing. We all need something to drive us and inspire us to be better. When that stimulus is gone... we're directionless.

Meanwhile, I am excited that my choir is going and watching them buzz over the amazing experiences to come! I get to hear about their travel plans and the amazing gigs they are lining up for themselves, such as singing in St. Mark's Cathedral for Sunday service in Venice! However, I can find myself detaching from it since I find it hurts less. The less I know about their wonderful tour plans the less I know about the things I am missing out on. It's not a great strategy but it's the one I'm currently employing. Silent detachment with a hint of grin-and-bear-it.

I suppose it would be easier if I could blame this on something. Blame it on the choir for not wanting me there! That's not the case. Blame it on my passion-consuming program! Which is not the case (for the most part). Blame it all on me! Even though I know I made right choice since there wasn't really a choice.

All I can do is wish them the best. Cheer them on while they're overseas competing. Hope they bring back a 1st place standing so I can bask in the glory as well, because, hey, even though I'm not standing on the same stage as them in Italy doesn't mean I'm not still a part of the choir :) Oh, and for any of my fellow choristers reading this post, I also wouldn't say no to them bringing home a handsome Swedish choir boy for me :)

In the meantime, take care readers, I hope this wasn't too much of a oh-woe-is-me blog post! I really do wish my choir the best and you can bet I'll be singing with them up until the day they leave on that plane to Italy!


Anonymous said...

One Swedish choir boy, coming up!

Kate Mc said...

I will officially shut up about Italy whenever I am in your presence from here on in.

Tom Carter said...

My apologies for posting such an obvious question, but ... have you talked seriously with the folks from your graduate program? I think it's very possible that you could work something out with them so that you could go to Italy AND take care of your clinic/class responsibilities. I'm thinking alternative classes, doing the work ahead of time, doing the work upon your return, postponing a final, et cetera.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

All my best,


Donald Patriquin said...

Life is about choices isn't it! Remember, 'denial' will often increase subsequent pleasure. You'll have forgotten your present pain in a short while, but you won't forget for a long time, possibly, having to take an extra year of 'academics' - and quite likely missing something even BETTER - if you exchange "short term gain" for "long term pain"! Don't dwell on the disappointments; do dwell on the positive.

I'll send you some positive vibes. Good for you for writing it all down. That tells me you are a positive, motivated and caring person.

You CAN'T go wrong if you follow what you truly believe is your right path.

d.p. (

misssable said...

kate-feel free to talk about Italy still and be excited about the trip! I am working through my bitter phase.

Tom-Indeed, I did approach my faculty and they weren't willing to make concessions for me since the program timeline is strict and it would set me back a year to go on this trip. But thank-you for staying hopeful for me!

Donald-Thanks for the lovely words! It makes me feel better about the choice I made!

Miss Sarah said...

Whatever you do. DON'T just fly for the weekend. Environmental no-no.

Yeah, life interferes availability and mobility sometimes. Dude, I had a kid. Even going to get groceries takes careful planning!

misssable said...

sarah-DEFINITELY not flying out for the weekend. Not only is it an environmental no-no but what a waste of money if I'm just popping over there and I can't even enjoy myself because I'm just in transit!

Unknown said...

Sable, this trip will not be the same without you! I will miss you greatly!!
Perhaps a seat sale will present itself and you can laugh at getting a ticket for 1/4 of the price! Yeah, I know it might not be possible with studies and all.
See you tomorrow right?

misssable said...

Sheryl-Thanks for the tip :)