Even with the masks, it was an incredible experience. Appearing live in concert usually is.
Not every singer I’ve known enjoys performing in public, a situation that can be anxiety-inducing. Yes, even chorus members suffer butterflies. Going on stage or the equivalent is a much different encounter than singing together in a rehearsal space, perhaps even in a circle facing each other.
Wisely, our part of the program was shorter than usual, reflecting the Covid-restricted rehearsal schedule and our return after two years of distancing and general inactivity. Our vocal cords were rusty and have had to get in running order again.
Even after some of the pop standards I’d sung in the Boston Revels autumn equinox affair on the banks of the Charles River, I still didn’t expect to be performing a rock hit, much less a five-part arrangement that was mostly counterpoint with some wildly shifting time signatures. REM’s “Shiny Happy People,” anyone? It’s more sophisticated than I would have believed, even with a bass part that felt, well, like playing air bass guitar.
The Wailin’ Jennys’ “One Voice” and Eric Whitacre’s “Sing Gently” were gorgeous paeans to the art of vocal music made when we unite as one, in this case including singers and audience.
There was the premiere of conductor John Newell’s five-part memorial to longtime Eastport arts inspiration Joyce Weber, “Lux Aeterna.” I hope we did it justice.
The traditional spiritual “Keep Your Lamps” was lively fun with a bouncy piano accompaniment and some fine bass lines, something that’s not always a given.
Dan Campolieta’s passionate setting of Emily Dickinson’s “Will There Really Be a Morning” gave us males a chance to sit out and just listen.
The heart of a concert is the audience, somehow completing the art at hand and making it real. I’ll add there’s a parallel with a readership for a writer or poet or a table of diners for a chef.
The arts center’s upstairs performance space seats about 120, so we were close to an audience of family, friends, and neighbors sharing our love of making music together.
How can I not be looking forward to more?