Si, si si, si da na da...

Si, si si, si da na da...

Every now and then I come across a new reason to keep singing.

In junior college it was for the people I sang with. I thought that was the ultimate, the deal-sealer, the Holy Grail of my quest. I wrote a lot about how much I loved Raffles Chorale, how much I would miss them when it all ended, how I wondered if I would ever find this somewhere sometime in the future. Raffles Chorale taught me that singing in a choir was defined by the people I sang with. That is, I discovered recently, a mistake. I was just lucky to have found such a passionate and loveable group of people to sing with in my two years in jc.

Which was why when I got into Chamber Choir at warwick, I was deeply disappointed. After a few weeks I knew it couldn’t be the same way it used to be. I held on to a secret hope, however. So I volunteered to be librarian. This was probably also a big part of why I signed up to go on Chamber Choir tour, which ended just about a week ago. I needed to build a bridge that could connect my heart to Chamber Choir. And I was hoping that this bridge would be the people, the hugs, the explosive and overjoyed hellllloooooooos I used to give and receive in jc. The worst thing was most of the others in the choir seemed to have this…this connection, and I felt like I was the only one out. My ex-flatmate would have pointed this out as another symptom of my chronic need to feel included.

(That is probably partially true, as well.)

Anyway, the point is, I embarked on tour with this purpose as my foremost aim – to feel like I belonged.

And so, being so focussed on trying to feel like a part of everyone, I was caught completely off-guard when I found other reasons that made me feel so happy to have made the decision of going on tour.

We went to Cornwall, all 25 of us, and, each day, stopped by at a different town to sing at its local church. Most of the audiences we got were elderly ladies and gentlemen. It’s always kind of a gamble when it comes to the number of people who will turn up – if we’re lucky it’s about 30, if we’re not it’s slightly above ten. We always have a good laugh when only about 10 people turn up – we joke about how we can be our own audience, etc.

At St. Petroc’s Church in Padstow, only about 10+ people turned up. So as usual, it was a laugh, we took it lightly, and we just sang anyway. One point to note about singing in a choir: When we do well, or when we do badly, everyone knows without having to say anything about it. Singing in a choir comes with understanding an unspoken language.

So I don’t remember singing particularly well on this night, unlike the night in Penzance, where everyone left the stage exhilarated and refreshed. But much later, about a week later, when we were back at campus singing for the degree ceremonies, Fran passed a card around. It was a card that had been posted from Padstow.

It was a note from a lady who had attended our concert at St. Petroc’s, and she wrote to say she had been thoroughly moved by our music – and she just wanted to congratulate us on being such “talented young people” who were “a credit to our generation”.

At that moment I felt incredibly touched, a tear came to my eye.

We could and never would know who else we might have moved in any of the audiences we had sung to, whether large or small. The fact that most of the audiences were elderly people made it all the more poignant. Who knew what they had seen, what hardship, what luxuries, what joys and sorrow- at this age? What did our music remind them of? Did our rendition of O Magnum Mysterium, in all its heavenly, echoey, splendour of beautiful chords, ring a little bell to remind them of (touch wood) imminent passing and heaven and God? Did we lift their spirits that night, or make them stronger, or make them feel at peace? Or was it, to some, simply a night of pure appreciation of music and music alone, with no other connection whatsoever?

Coming out of the blue from a university to randomly sing at someone’s overfamiliar local church, did we change his or her life in any way?

Did we inspire people? Did we inadvertently give anyone an epiphany?

These are thoughts that are especially tempting to entertain. The way I see it, it’s completely plausible, romanticised or not.

After what the lady specially wrote in to say, it’s made me realise that this is one of the best and most important motivations I could ever ask for. The possibility that sharing our music could really have made a difference in someone’s life.

Listen to this – the sexiest piece of choral music alive, also on our tour repertoire – Oh Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen:

And now. Tell me it isn’t possible.