Guys… I have no words.
I’m so happy and overwhelmed.
As some of you might know, at the beginning of the school year and through a series of miracles I ended up being in the school choir.
I had told you how I got in, but I still haven’t told you the impact it had on my life. It has become my escape. A place free of all the bullshit we go through, free of all the horrible, judgemental people, free of all worries and trouble… Just music, and singing, and amazing people with beautiful souls – and voices.
Hearing us sing together is mesmerizing. It’s truly angelic. I have grown to anticipate choir lessons above all else during the week.
Our choir leader, the members, even I was surprised at how quickly I caught on. Not that my voice underwent a transformation, but I was doing very well for someone who had just started singing in a choir for the first time in his life. I learned all the songs and practiced every day. Never did I think I’d grow that fond of religious hymns but nowadays they’re all I sing and constantly on the tip of my tongue.
ANYWAY, fast forward to this evening. The previous three months have been leading up to this big night, as it would be the album release concert for a CD dedicated to the newly-announced Saint Marie Alphonsine, who happens to be the founder of our school’s sisterhood.
Even though I had joined halfway through these three months, I was allowed to participate in the concert, and I was absolutely thrilled.
I wasn’t really nervous to be quite honest. The year before, I had participated in a poetic night, during which I said a poem that I wrote in front of an audience (at the same stage where the concert would happen; which is our school’s. It is very grandiose with over 300 seats). At that time I was solo, with a spotlight and all, so naturally this time being with about 40 others and an orchestra I would feel quite comfortable.
So, yesterday afternoon, after drinking a good cuppa tea and honey, I put on my little chorist uniform (which you might mistake as a hotel clerk’s or a waiter at a high profile restaurant’s outfit), had a hair stylist give me a classic groovy look (I mean come on, I gotta look the part), and headed to school. They had put up tall banners with the famous Marie Alphonsine painting plastered on them.
I went backstage, and there we were all, similarly dressed in black, white and blue. We looked adorbz.
We went on stage to take our places, and I took in the enormity of it all. The roses, the lights, the orchestra (I was literally starstruck by the instruments. That contrebass! ヾ(*´∀｀*)ﾉ ), heck, the event was going to be filmed for TV! I was excited, and frankly thankful that I had fixed my hair before coming.
The curtains were closed while the theater was being filled with people. I started to feel the weight of what I was going in for. The moment came. The national anthem started playing, while the curtains slowly unfurled and the crowd, the lights, the cameras, the flashes, everything together hit me so suddenly and I took in all of it.
The lights dimmed, the conductor appeared, the instruments started playing.
Wait, what were the words again?
What are the notes to this song?
Am I even singing? What am I doing here?
All these thoughts emerged and flooded my brain and spirit during the interval between the instrumental intro and the solo. It was our cue after that. We had to sing. And I had forgotten how to open my mouth.
Well, I thought I did. Because once the moment came, it came so naturally I thought a spirit had inhabited me and started moving my mouth and vocal chords for me. It happened in a snap, and the next moment I had regained control over the whole situation. My face unclenched, my lips curled into a smile of relief while still singing ‘On Your Ways Oh Jesus’ just as I had done many, many times before, and my gaze turned as soft and dramatic as can be, staring up to the bright golden lights as if I was looking into Marie’s eyes, singing to her, because this was still a performance and I was fully commited. Plus, I really felt it. It was Serenety, Love, Peace (which happens to be the title of another song we performed, and honestly I am surprised at how well these words describe what we sang because they came to my mind so naturally I forgot they were actually a song’s title. These were not random meaningless lyrics someone came up with just for the sake of it.)
The best were, of course, the Four Voices songs, which interestingly happened to be 4. ‘Wafts of Aromas and Melodies’, ‘Rose of Al-Kuds’, ‘Alphonsine’s Home’, and ‘Turn Your Loving Gaze To Me’ (I hope I have done these titles justice in translating them from Arabic; the last one wasn’t too hard because we actually sing it in four languages including English).
These songs were really pure genius. I have no idea how someone comes up with these melodies, but oh my god! It’s unearthly! I wish I could show you a clip, because it was really, really beautiful.
There was only one downside, and I’m saying this just to get my feet back on the ground a little.
Oh wow. I honestly did not mean to use that previous expression on purpose at all, because ironically the problem I’m talking about was feet-related. It’s just the fact that I had to stand completely still for two hours, holding the song book by one arm, while my body was still stiff and aching from the workout session a day before. That’s excluding the two other hours standing just like that during the repetition. Plus, I was wearing the world’s most feet-squishing shoes, which made my toes go numb so I had to basically tap dance to reestablish circulation through them while still maintaing good posture in my upper body because I was still being filmed. I also kept moving back and forth because I was afraid I was going to fall off, and at some point I was positive I was going to faint and/or vomit. These were some of the most secretly awkward moments of my life, but compared to everything else that happened that night it’s really not relevant.
After the concert was finished to great applause, the curtains closed once more. Everyone made a loud sigh of relief as we collapsed on stage, rubbing our legs and stretching our shoulders. It obviously wasn’t just me, even though I think I was the only one to whom this was their first ever concert.
On the way out, we were all given a gift box, which contained dinner (two sandwiches, a brownie and juice). These were frankly some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. It’s quite probably because I felt these were rewards for our hard work. It’s the same as when you read a book you saved up and paid for yourslef.
In the – what do they call it – the pre-theater-place-where-people-meet-and-talk-and-there’s-sometimes-a-buffet-with-delicious-pastry room, I (and of course every memberbof the choir) received congratulations from guests and spectators. Our Headmistress or Head-Nun herself (who is practically the president of the school) went totally out of character (I’m talking WAY out) and kissed every one of us she crossed paths with and told us what a great job we did with a true smile. I was positively shocked, because I thought she was sort of a Voldemort in terms of emotion.
Finally, we all thanked the one and only Sister M, who’s responsible for our choir, the CD, the songs, the concert, the whole project, who worked her hardest to make the night a success. And it worked.
This will most definitely be a night I’ll never, ever forget. This sounds extremely cliché, I know, but sometimes you really can’t say more than that. This was my very first concert, and I pray to God (and Marie) it won’t be the last.