Collective resonance, sonic unity
Throughout the year, we have all missed our choirs, including this one. We have missed getting together, learning, performing, conversing and laughing together. Humanity is community.
Over the year, I looked back at our previous pieces, but much more so since our Madeira performance was cancelled. As a result, a new and specific yearning awoke. I didn’t just want to sing West Side Story and be in Cork to do so, I yearned for it. I wanted to be somewhere. I wanted to be with people. I wanted to work hard with others, not on my own. I wanted to sing with others. Yes, I wanted to travel, adventure and have some mighty craic, but I really, really wanted to just sing with my choir. Somewhere…..
This year, Irish Doctors Choir was one of the choirs to have the will to continue online. A choir is dependent on its musical director. Brian had a will and vision to help us rise to the challenge. He admits that this year was a very steep learning curve, learning technically-challenging audio production. However, what we admire the most is that he was willing to keep this choir breathing. As big as the technical challenge was, we also had to maintain variety along the year to maintain interest, changing the format and the ask of members as we went on towards an indefinite future.
Like most groups, we varied immensely in our knowledge and confidence when it came to the technical aspects. We had to get to grips with taking part in a Zoom sing, recording audio and video. Yet, we managed just that, producing our own video, learning enough to provide quality raw material by good preparation the next time, but to entrust the production to a professional . We learnt a lot about how to do things as we went on, a year of PDSA cycles. We not only kept our active membership together, but added to it. We maintained a steady and high level of participation. We followed instructions to produce content and we raised huge sums of money for two great charities. We should dwell on this point. We raised a fantastic €2,000 for the Rotunda Foundation and an immense €9,000 for MSF, dramatically raising our impact with >550 views of our video.
This year has been a year of much reflection and re-evaluation. The ever-present ‘social- distancing’ is more than physical distancing and includes the deeper impact of it, the result of social privation. The online rehearsals needed a ‘together’ bit if we were to survive. Taking part is lonely. Singing alone is lonely. It just doesn’t lack the other voices. We need them. Thank goodness for the ‘Unmuted Arms’.
Last Thursday, we were treated to a tour of our performance history. In preparation, I looked over old vocal scores and listened to learning tracks. On the night, I had all arranged ready to sing. Michael’s ‘Cocktail Hour’ broke the ice and then it began but as Brian began, it all changed. We listened as he gave us back our story and a carefully curated show was delivered smoothly with actual footage and audio from our performances. As it went on, I realised I had stopped singing and was just watching and listening. When, at the end, we returned to the beginning, and the high quality audio Mahler 2 ‘Resurrection’ choral finale played, I could only listen, transported back to the emotional debut of the choir, to its intense power and beauty. I know more than a few shed a tear in response to what we knew we had produced way back then, but also its enduring effect. I also know there were pangs of regret that we were not together.
We should be very proud of what we have managed to do this year, but we are human. Song reaches deep within and touches many aspects of our well-being. As you listen more and more to Brian’s warm-ups and Juliana’s vocal coaching, our sound is a product of our whole body, like the cello in the corner. I want to be a cello in the room with others, a voice with other voices, to try to resonate my sound within and hear that mix with sound from others. It’s even more than being part of a community, it’s a sonic unity we seek. This Thursday keenly brought that to the surface. We want together, in the moment, mindful of ourselves to generate sound by listening and tuning to others. We want together. Humanity is community. We want our collective resonance.
Somehow, some day, somewhere