Over My Head, I Hear Singing in the Air



“Music Down in My Soul” SSAA Arrangement

-Moses Hogan

Heritage High School Advanced Women’s Choir

(Suggested listening while reading today’s entry…. at least until 2:14… After that, take it or leave it. Haha!)

Today it finally happened: I had a place to sing!

It was great!

It was needed.

I made friends.

I made music.

I loved it.

….And they had sangria and snacks.

I will be back next Wednesday. ūüôā

From the second I parked in the lot this evening, for some¬†reason, these first two minutes of this Moses Hogan¬†piece were in my head…. in SSAA¬†Form (the SATB¬†version, not so much).¬†I love it. It’s strange that I love it… Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great piece; I’ve enjoyed singing it, and I love hearing a good performance or recording of it- a treasure in the American Choral Songbook, for sure… But it’s not really my genre of choice or anything…. It is NOTHING like the music I sang tonight…

But those first two minutes¬†especially the piano accompaniment¬†captures the mysterious¬†excitement, the tingle, the palpable feeling of something physically intangible… the “feeling in the air” that comes with “musicking”.

Nope, that’s not one of my typos… I meant it. Musicking.

Music makes much more sense as a verb than a noun for those that practice it and make it. …And as one of my choral mentors and directors back home often said (which was said by the director tonight) “It is amazing what happens in a room when a bunch of people come together to make and share and create something beautiful that is absolutely impossible to do by yourself.” THAT is choral music. That is why I love choral music. It is an experiencing as a conductor, singer, or audience member… All are links in the system, and you can feel it. It moves you. …At least, it moves me.

This song often comes to me when I am about¬†to begin a new musical experience¬†especially¬†one I think is going to be good… Those 2 minutes are kind of like the opening credits of a favorite TV show… Perhaps it’s just me making my life like a movie in my own head, still waiting for Morgan Freeman to begin narration…

Tonight, the “opening credits” in my head as I walked into the rehearsal space at Our Lady of Mount Carmel did not disappoint.

(In case you haven’t figured it out yet, if you aren’t one of my music friends, you¬† might hate/ be bored by this post. It’s ok if you don’t finish it… I’m gonna nerd out, and talk about annoying choral details. Love you, though!)

For reasons that some of you will understand and others will not, a place named “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” was not my first choice for a musical home in Chicago. However, I have decided to just submit to the idea that I cannot escape Mt. Carmel, ever. It’s been with me since the 1990’s…

From the second I walked into my audition there last week, it felt right. Other auditions last week felt good as well- but this one felt RIGHT….I wondered if the feeling would continue tonight in the first rehearsal.

It first catered to my administrator/ compulsive side… Chairs perfectly set up, piano ready, folders pre-made, numbers assigned, with all the music there, all in order… Yellow folder for this week’s music, Green folder looking ahead to upcoming weeks. Oh, did I mention I have a rep list for the ENTIRE YEAR? Yep.

I sat, got out my water and pencil, and began to browse through my folder…. Gounod Mass setting, chant antiphons, psalmody written by the director (Paul French) and his predecessor, William Ferris…. Yep, manuscripts, in my folder. True Story.

Byzantine chant, Russian Choral Music, de Victoria¬†Mass settings and pieces, some Brahms, some Rutter, some Messiaen….

This was NOT church choir. My fears about singing “Gather Hymnal’s Greatest Hits” were quickly dispelled.

They do not repeat music. Some is old, some is new, a lot is in-between… But all is beautiful, high quality, choral music.

I get that this would not create meaningful worship for everyone. I will sing at mass, but I am here for the music. Let me be clear about that. I have found places that cater to my spiritual side here. But, I will say, a powerful music experience is a spiritual experience of its own.

Nearly everyone in the group studied music in their undergrad… most people are 25-45 years old and have been in the group 5-10 years… There are 3 composers in the group, other than the director.

Everyone was super-friendly, and excellent sight-readers. On the first piece I was actually a little nervous, because it sounded DAMN GOOD for reading!

Rehearsal was calm and fun and so well-managed. (This is the nerdy choir director in me- I really appreciate great rehearsal management).

To reference my NOLA life, it was like NOVA met the Catholic Church.

Yep, this can work for me.

By the end of the night, we stood in a circle around the large rehearsal space (my Cathedral friends know I LOVE this) and sight-read a Mass Setting by de Victoria… It was beautiful.

In their professional lives, some are musicians, composers, teachers, lawyers, engineers, religious, ¬†real estate developers, or salesmen, but they come to do this every week for the same reason… Because they love it.

No one is paid. They record every Sunday.

Granted, maybe it’s the rose-colored glasses of a first rehearsal, maybe its the fact that I was Jones-ing for a rehearsal/ for a choir/ for some kind of music in a bad way….. But man, a void was filled tonight.

Some people play football, some play computer games, others run marathons…

I am a choir nerd. I sing in choirs.

Music keeps me grounded, keeps me happy, and keeps me filled with what I need. Tonight, I found 33 other people who seem to basically feel exactly the same way.

What fills you up in that intangible  but oh-so-important way?

Until tomorrow, with music in the air,



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