Monday, December 14, 2009

Human Voices

As a boy, I spent eight years singing in the church choir of St. Paul's School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland. I began as a soprano and finally stopped singing as a bass. We had an amazingly warm, wonderful and savvy choirmaster that could coax even the roughest voice to an acceptable sound. We began as sopranos and most of us made it all the way through the vagaries of puberty to continue singing as either tenors or baritones. Our choirmaster, Don McDorman, bless his soul, dished up the perfect combination of discipline and overlooked mischief. If truth were told, Don used his position to maximum effect, by taking himself (for free) and us for the cost of cheap lodging, to several magnificent tours of Europe. We literally sang for our supper, usually waiting in drafty kitchens until being ushered into the castles of wealthy landowners waiting for the entertainment.
As we grew older, we somehow managed to make it so that we had to include Mr. McDorman's daughter and cousin to go along for these European junkets as well, and it must be said that wonderful Peggy McDorman, and her cousin just about sent us hormonal boys right over the edge. In fact, on one such day of exploration, we lost one of our group. He wandered into St. Paul's Cathedral in London, and wound up getting a personal tour of the belfry. There is always something to be said for eschewing the beaten path.
This post, in fact, is occasioned by a magnificent performance held yesterday, December 13, 2009, by the Girls Choir of the National Cathedral. The poise of the singers, the depth of feeling and flawless execution of this most difficult and complex piece seemed effortless on its surface, while it demanded the utmost in execution, timing, and an almost magical serendipity. Perhaps somewhere in some heaven, these girls and our now old boys of years ago may have had the spiritual backing that God sometimes offers the sentient. God bless us all!

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