Concert isn’t exactly the right word for what happened tonight. It was more of an interactive demo to these young kids, ages 10-13, about what choir singing is about.
We were warming up on the stage of the empty auditorium (which seemed like a good fundraiser venue, should we ever tire of Hunter) when they started filing in. We waved and some waved back as they took seats in the first two or three rows, a few adults from the Junior League scattered among them. When we paused between licks, they clapped, so we told them those were just warmups. They were attentive as we continued, even as they moved around in their seats and one boy picked his hair with an Afro comb.
Then Rene announced that we were starting. He told them a little about the choirs he conducts and about how POHC formed and what our mission was. When he described the different voices—S1, S2, A1, A2, T/B, B—he turned to us and we raised our hands when he got to our sections. They were very interested in this. I got the feeling they sing everything in unison and it was a new concept for them. We followed with “Bright Morning Star,” as an illustration of parts—women begin, men join, and the whole rounds out beautifully.
Rene told them a bit about the types of music we sing. He mentioned that we were rehearsing “Empire State of Mind.” They got very excited at this and wanted to hear it. Rene said it was new for us and wasn’t ready yet, and they said oh, please, just sing what you know so far. Rene again demurred, saying we needed a rapper. Unprompted, Anthony complied by reciting all the rap lyrics. When he finished, Rene said we would do a song we had just learned, “Oseh Shalom,” and that it was in Hebrew, a language that hadn’t been spoken for thousands of years and just got revived in the 20th Century. They clapped along as we sang, and when we finished, a few of them said they learned a Shalom song when they were in third grade. They couldn’t think of the name of it, so we asked them how it went. It turned out to be “Od Yavo,” and we joined them, with Rene conducting us both. They had been attentive before, but this was when we truly bonded.
They asked a lot of questions throughout the evening, among them, did we ever sing songs that we wrote ourselves. We mentioned Marv, Brian, Wilfred, and Jeff. After “Siyahamba,” one girl asked how we learned to sing with such class.
Rene had us do the me-meh-mah-mo-mou chords, to show them how he shaped the color with his hands, indicating when to get softer and when to swell. They looked riveted as they watched an listened, so after we did “Aquarius”—which they loved—we invited them onstage to do warmups with us. Rene led our now double ranks through the entire series, including the-tip-of-the-tongue-the-teeth-the-lips, which made them laugh, but they did it. He also led them through the me-meh-mah-mo-mou chords and they were right with him, shaping the sounds according to the movement of his hands.
After two sing-alongs and also “Give Us Hope,” which it turned out they knew and sang with us, we switched places—POHC went down to the audience and they stayed on stage and sang “Girl On Fire” for us. It took them a few minutes to get the giggles out, but once they started, they went right through in fine form.
As we said our goodbyes, it was clear that each group had gotten so much from the other. This was truly an amazing evening.
- Peace of Heart Choir Singer
It has become a tradition for a member of POHC to do a post-concert write-up. It started when our Sign-up Coordinator began emailing her summaries to the other members in order to entice newer members to sign-up to sing at community concerts held early in the season. It didn’t take long for Concert Write-ups to become greatly anticipated amongst our members, so we share them here in hopes that you’ll join us at a future concert.