A couple of days back, my choir (the University of Warwick Chamber Choir 😉 ) held a joint concert with another Warwick choir in the Coventry Cathedral. It was so unexpectedly amazing, really – it surpassed all my expectations, in more ways than one (and that is despite the fact that we made two very, very obvious mistakes). The acoustics were crazy- you could hear every last echo. And nothing sounds better than when a choir sings a chord in tune and then fades away into into what seemed like the loudest silence you could ever come to know- a pin-drop silence laced with a beautiful, goosebump-inducing blend of resonating voices.

To be honest, most of my choir experience here has been somewhat depressing. The singing is great – there is no denying that, and it is great every week. But the thing was that a lot of my choir experience back in Raffles Chorale revolved around the people, because most of us were amateurs, and hence a lot of it was a process and teaching and learning together no matter whether you were a junior or senior. It was through all these daily practices and gruelling sectionals that I grew so close to my choirmates – I miss them terribly right this moment as I type. Every concert ended wrought with a kind of emotional solidarity, whether on a high with exhilaration or on a low with a sinking, miserable realisation that it was the last time ever.

So when I came to Warwick and got into the Chamber Choir, although I DID expect some differences, I was caught rather off-guard by the stark contrast in the rehearsal style. It’s so individualistic! Most of the UWCC choristers are amazing singers, even if I do say so myself, and we sound so good right off the bat even when sightsinging a new piece of music. So there isn’t any peer-to-peer guidance, there doesn’t seem to be any expectation to rely on your sectionmates, if you are failing miserably at reading the music, it is unlikely that you can do anything about it except study it on your own at home.

Even our performances in school were so casual – hardly any prep, people don’t turn up for the actual performance and it’s not a problem…it seemed rather lacklustre and not at all fulfilling. I even considered quitting the choir at one point. Extending from these observations, I then thought that this time’s concert, despite its relatively larger scale, would be nothing like the concerts back in Singapore – it would be simply a performance, then off we go, casually, back home to our little worlds, till we met again to sing (alone) next practice. I didn’t expect any sort of climax at all.

(That was despite a proper build-up – my friends agreed to come watch, which made me really happy – and then my flatmates completely surprised by saying they were coming too; that made me literally bounce with happiness almost all day long :D)

And of course, there was the people problem – I’d already mentioned somewhere earlier that I wasn’t really getting along with the choir peeps, besides Claire and Sophie, and it was really getting to me – because I simply wasn’t used to feeling so alone in a choir. I wasn’t used to having no one in choir to hug and celebrate with and squeal (or cry) after concert!

But after the concert, I was completely blown away with how good we sounded. Even as we made mistakes, I wasn’t frowning and feeling foolish, I was grinning in amusement! Because even then we sounded so great!

I couldn’t stop smiling as I wove through people after the concert, especially when I came out to be welcomed by all my dearest friends who came all the way to support me despite the cold, and Ollie losing his keys and paying 30 quid for it….36.60 if you include the price of the ticket and bus fare.

And I realised one very simple thing – it’s really all about the music, in the end.

That’s what I joined the choir for, and that’s what had to keep me going. I mean, occasional disappointments are bound to give me rude shocks now and again but…after what I’d felt singing in concert…it is a truly wonderful feeling, it is almost indescribable how great it feels to get lost in all that splendour of beautiful music and song.

I cannot imagine not singing every week, not feeling the pure joy I get simply from listening to an overtone, not working my diaphragm to bits. It won’t be the same, really. I cannot justify leaving something I love so damn much behind using the lack of love or camaraderie as an excuse- I’m supposed to be in love primarily with making that magic that is music, not the people I’m making the music with, and I cannot help it if life doesn’t hand me everything in one perfect package.

So that’s the conclusion. Choir = music = love. And I really don’t need to have it any other way.

All the Love in the World

All the love in the world