By Kathleen Lonergan, Alto, Magnolia Chorale
Music makes me cry.
Not a “sad”-type of crying. More of an, “I am overwhelmed by the beauty of what I’m hearing”-type of crying. And, as I am nearly always listening to music, I am very often found crying. Pass me on the sidewalk with my headphones on? Try not to notice those tears streaming down my face. Sit next to me at a concert? Better be prepared for a lot of sniffling.
But NOTHING gets me bawling like choral music. The dynamics, the harmonies, the profound loveliness of joined voices - it’s one giant wave of teary emotion. And I LOVE IT.
I’d always dreamed of singing in a choir. And I’d always been convinced I couldn’t do it. Because of… well, you know, the crying thing. Whenever I opened my mouth to sing along, I got that lump in my throat, that catch in my voice, and the sound just wouldn’t come out.
How could I audition for a choir if I couldn’t even sing?
But I never stopped dreaming. And when I heard Magnolia Chorale had openings, and was non-audition, I thought: This could be my chance.
So, I started practicing singing scales. Because, really, how emotional can you get over scales? And… Yes! I learned I could reliably get from “do” to “sol” without tears. I was on my way.
After joining the Chorale, I quickly discovered there was no crying in choir. It was so much fun! And there was so much to learn! Who had time to cry? I was too focused on rhythm, dynamics, keys, breathing, consonants, that “G” is really “K”, and how the heck do we pronounce Magnum, anyways?
And so… last week, after months of tear-free rehearsals, and with much anticipation, I took the stage at my very first choir concert. As we began our opening piece, “Dark Night,” the energy, power, and connection in this concert setting was like nothing I’d experienced before. I felt a sudden and overwhelming rush of joy.
Wait, what is happening? Is that a lump in my throat? Are those TEARS? AM I CRYING? Noooooo.
I lost my place and felt a moment of panic. Then, I steeled myself. I’d worked so hard! I could do this! I refocused on my sheet music, with its many weeks’ worth of scribbled notations. I watched Joseph. I breathed. I listened to the singers next to me. I felt a calm sense of self-assurance. I fell back into place.
The crying stopped, the singing resumed, the moment passed.
I’d proved to myself that I COULD sing through the tears. But, reflecting on the experience, the true beauty of that moment was the transcendence of being enveloped, uplifted, and carried away on the wave of music. To feel that connection to the other musicians, to the audience – what a precious gift to have that brief sense of belonging, of meaning.
I may still have a crying problem. But, I’ve learned, some experiences are worthy of a few tears.
Magnolia Chorale is...
a community of singers who enjoy spending time together making great music.