If people have found it as hard to feel the Christmas spirit as I have, recent events may have helped.
Much of my year has been devoid of choral rehearsals and concerts. Musical theater? Almost non-existent. What’s a choir guy to do?
My recovery of the Christmas spirit began with the resumption of church choir rehearsals at the end of November. I sang all year round. But I was missing the choir aspect of the song.
Singing hymns and songs on the radio can be satisfying, but they are not choral, like in the choir, to me. I will sing parts of hymns, but it is not the same as the intentional music that I associate with backing vocals. The few boys (as powerful as their voices are) in the musical I attended weren’t enough to cheer me up until December.
Inspiration struck along the way. In October, I got to hear the Vocal Artists of Iowa perform.
On Thanksgiving, I tipped in to hear the All-State concert. The West High musical hit high notes. The spirit of the song was not dead.
I have listened to the catalog of my compositions a few times, but the synthetic voices (ooh and aah) do not have the same weight as hearing the lyrics sung. It can help the songwriting process, but until you hear real people singing your music with real words, “Meh”.
My Christmas spirit was pressing the snooze button. I almost woke up when we heard my wife’s high school choir perform their Christmas concert last week.
The director, a West High graduate and “special friend” of my oldest son, was giving us her third concert (the first was broadcast live and the second in person). She chose stimulating music for her choir and the young people seized the opportunity.
Each concert was better than the last as the teacher and the student get to know each other. You would be hard pressed to realize that she is a first grade teacher!
After years of doing my own Christmas programming, it took me a bit to uplift my Christmas spirit. But David Haas and the Vocal Artists of Iowa woke up my lethargic Christmas spirit and inspired me to enter the last week of Advent with hope for a better future.
We keep trying to figure out how to make music in the restrictive world we live in. They found a way and got me back on my feet (something I don’t do much anymore).
These artists come from high school teachers who rarely have the opportunity to perform. When they do, it is with the aplomb of the professional singer who prepares and meets for a brief rehearsal period before performing.
Each of us in attendance probably has a different favorite! Yes, they hit the mark and I’m a better musician for that.
Hoping that your Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali or Tet spirit is fully awakened and ready for the challenges we are about to face. “May your troubles be very small and your fortune ten times ten!” “
Richard Tiegs is a local musician who occasionally contributes to the weekly Musical Reflections.