Trying again

During my junior year of college, I joined the campus choir. We spent much of the late fall and winter learning Bach’s B-Minor Mass. I spent hours listening to recordings of it during my campus copying and filing job. The more I listened to the intricate lines, and learned the little masterstrokes Bach placed in there, the more I loved it. But I was studying abroad in Australia that spring, and it turned out I needed to leave for their “fall” semester (spring in the US) about a week before the performance. So I didn’t get to sing the mass.

I think I imagined I’d get another chance. But none of the choirs I joined in New York after college performed it while I was a member. I had a bunch of children, and moved to Pennsylvania. After a fashion, I joined my church choir. We sang some other cool pieces, but not the B-Minor mass.

Then, last March, as the pandemic was crashing through everything, with rehearsals and church services suspended indefinitely, my choir director announced that we would sing the Bach B-Minor Mass the next spring. It would give us something to look forward to. So here I would be getting my chance, 21 years later, to finally sing this piece I’ve so enjoyed.

Except…here we are, just a few months out. The concert programming is canceled for the year. Barring incredibly unlikely switches in circumstances, we won’t be gathering with 70 singers on stage, belting out music and aerosolized particles, directing them at hundreds of folks sitting in an indoor concert hall.

So who knows when I will sing the Bach B-Minor mass. As I go deeper into my 40s, and think about the items on my bucket list, I start to ponder that I might never sing the B-Minor mass. I hope I will. Maybe 21 more years from now…? Though who knows, I could practice it and plan to sing it and get laryngitis ahead of that concert and miss it then too. Life is unknowable.

Sometimes we come up with reasonable substitutes. This past weekend was the rescheduled date of the Broad Street 10-mile race, originally scheduled for May. When it was postponed, I imagine people thought life would be different by October 4. This wound up being converted to a virtual race too. I ran my 10 miles and, honestly, I probably preferred running solo through the early October woods than sharing Broad Street with 30,000 of my closest friends.

But it’s hard to sing a mass virtually (Zoom is terrible for singing). I guess we just keep trying again.

In other news: We celebrated my daughter’s 9th birthday over the weekend. Between a French toast casserole for dinner (her choice), an ice cream cake, and donuts for breakfast today, there was a lot of sugar. I am hankering for something savory.

11 thoughts on “Trying again

  1. Good morning, Laura, this story resonates with my heart and voice! After our campus/community choir ended several years ago, I thought I might never find another choir but amazingly, a new community choir formed last Feb, just as we startrd hearing about this frightening disease called coronavirus. I’m not sure if we will ever cone together again, or if it will work for me, but I hope and pray for this in the future—for choirs around the world to raise our voices in song! From a fellow singer—

  2. I’ve had such a tough time lately thinking about bucket list items. My daughter is in a Norse mythology class and she’s now desperate to visit Norway and Iceland. This time last year I would have been looking at summer flights and looking forward to checking off “see the Northern lights.”

    It almost seems easier to plan for 10 years from now (when both kids will be either in college or done with it) than for 2021.

  3. I’m reading a book right now called Solve for Happy and just finished reading a section that discusses control and how life really is out of our control in so many ways. All we can really control is our actions and our attitude. So your comment about life being “unknowable” resonated with me today! And you’re right- even if you thought you would sing it this spring, you could get laryngitis, or something else could come up. 🙂 This mindset helps to put everything in perspective a bit, and is a good reminder to not get too whipped up over everything being just so.

  4. Beautiful post, Laura! I have been thinking similar thoughts too. One of my daughters started showing more of an interest in singing two years ago and sang a solo in her school’s spring “Music Fest” as a 6th grader. Unfortunately, I only captured a few seconds of it on video and consoled myself that she had two more of those events to look forward to (7th and 8th grades). Of course, that was canceled last spring, her 7th grade year, and will look very different this year–probably no audience. Her school’s spring musical was already canceled and she was the likely lead. Of course, I am hopeful that she has a long life ahead of her with lots of fantastic opportunities, singing and otherwise, But I am also mourning the losses that’s missing right now for her as a 13 year old.

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