Saturday, October 13, 2012

Plucked from the Choir

Oh, Oh. "Why did I say yes?" When my conductor's voice on the phone said, "May I ask you a favour? Could you please sing the Alto solo for the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio?" All he heard from me was silence. My heart pounded my stomach lurched and then after a few seconds I could hear myself saying, "yes."
Now, two days later, I am thinking, "What have I done?"   Obviously the choir is under severe budget constraints in order to pluck me from the choir to sing alongside professional soloists. Also obviously there are no big arias, but if my stomach gurglings are any indication you would think I were singing the Queen of Night aria at Carnegie Hall. I alternate from the ego boosting thought of, "I can't believe he would choose me" to the deflating, "I will sound like a complete idiot up there!"
For someone who has been a solid choral singer for 40 years I have become an expert at that. Choral singing is NOT solo singing, I can't see how the skill set will transfer over. Of course, I have played soloist in my living room, piano room many a time. Much the way a  9-year old prances around Brittany Spears style I am there, score in hand, belting out Aria after Aria with Renee Flemming or Cecilia Bartoli, or Anne Sofie van Otter or Maureen Forrester accompanying me in the background. They are great partners for me because when I take a breath Maureen keeps the sound going, when I lose the key Renee finds it for me. Our phrasing is sublime. Singing solo lines without these girls in the background is like riding a wild horse without saddle or reins. I will fall off after the first bar. I know this because I have already practiced with myself and I need a breath after every bar, that is when I sing imagining I am in front of the audience. If I just sit on the couch, slouching and singing casually along I can hold a phrase quite nicely. Stand me up again with soloist posture and my voice will not cooperate. It knows I am not a soloist. "Get back in the choir where you belong!", it shouts. It refuses to provide me with my entry note, preferring to be led there by the beautiful Anne Sofie instead. It will not get a full sound out, it refuses to hold the tone from start of note to end of a 3-beats, it sabotages every attempt at creating something beautiful. "Oh, Girls, we used to make such beautiful music together, why must I be thrust out from you and stand alone?"
Anne Sofie


  1. But you are a soloist, guess you will just have to become an expert at it, butterflies for the right reason is a good thing, guess you have to spread your wings. You are not without saddle you always put so much preparation into choir singing it's as if you already were singing a solo.
    Are there complete solo parts and or duets in the piece? Can you post your solo parts or um ok I can look them up myself too.

  2. Oh my goodness, you are funny! This is what I love about you: So are humble. So funny. So talented. So self deprecating. And so willing and able to step up to mic and shine.

    Get those butterflies in formation. I actually think it might be helpful for you to post a video, say on youtube, of your practice performance. Us Kroekers could then listen to what you've got and critique from there. We're always here to help in any way we can.

  3. It's those butterflies that prepare you to take flight.
    YAY!!!! Congratulations!! I think this is totally awesome and I am SO proud of you!!! You will be amazing, and you DO belong there.
    It's interesting, because as I read your words, I could have fit in my own situation and that is exactly how I feel.
    (((hug))) You will do great Lori!!!

  4. Monica!!!!!!!! A Video on You Tube???????? You have most surely flipped your lid but have a Kroeker Kritque Klatsch after it sounds almost fun, I said, Almost. Butterflies to help me take flight - Ya, Joanne - flight out of the country would suit me fine!!!!!
    Thanks for the positve things the three of you wrote and I hope it will do me some good - my butterflies are not trained to do anything but provide vertigo at the moment.