Monday, November 8, 2010

Music, Spread Thy Voice Around

I love to hear a choir. I love the humanity to see the faces of real people devoting themselves to a piece of music. I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic about the human race when I see them cooperating like that.
Paul McCartney

I don't often have classical music stuck in my head.

Contemporary Christian ... yes.

Old hymns ... decidedly.

Old standards .... emphatically.

Contemporary country ... yes.

Tunes from musicals ... yes and double yes.

George Frederick Handel doesn't often make an appearance in my mental soundtrack.

But after a reunion weekend with the K-State Concert Choir, my mental ipod is still playing Handel's "Music, Spread Thy Voice Around."

Music wasn't my major at K-State. But it was definitely one of my Top 3 favorite things as a K-State student.

I was in Concert Choir in 1978 and 1979 when the choir was under the leadership of Rod Walker. We did our first reunion in 2007, when Mr. Walker was retiring after 41 years of service to K-State. For that event, Mr. Walker directed us all again.

He was to have conducted us again during K-State's homecoming. But grandbabies trump choir reunions, so instead, we were directed by the current conductors of Concert Choir, Dr. Julie Yu and Dr. Joshua Oppenheim. This husband-wife duo are co-directors of Choral Music in K-State's Department of Music. It was great to experience the leadership current K-State students get when they walk into daily Concert Choir rehearsals.

This time, I talked my brother, Kent, into singing in the reunion, too. Other than twin brothers, we were the only other sibling pair at the reunion.

There is no sound like K-State Concert Choir ... even us old wannabes. I'll never forget walking into Room 204 of McCain for my first Concert Choir rehearsal. I didn't get to join Choir until my junior year, but it was definitely worth the wait.

I was singing with people who wanted to be there, not a bunch of people who were there to get out of study hall. Every single person had a good voice and knew how to use it. It was amazing.

For the reunion, we practiced Saturday morning before the K-State-Oklahoma State football game. I forced myself not to yell during the ballgame (that was hard, by the way!) And then we went back for another practice session after the game.

Sunday afternoon, we sang at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Manhattan. The Manhattan High School choir, directed by another K-State Concert Choir alum, was also on the program.

The acoustics were remarkable. The stained glass windows cast jewel tones throughout the sanctuary. The music was challenging (in a good way). It was one goosebump moment after another.

Most of us are in church choirs. I personally love my church choir "family."

But there is truly nothing like Concert Choir.

You know the old guys who are always reliving their best game from high school. Well, I was a bench sitter in basketball, but for me, music was my gift. Concert Choir gave me friends I still keep in touch with and tons of great memories.

We ended our program on Sunday with a song Mr. Walker used over and over in Concert Choir. It didn't matter whether you were in Concert Choir in 1979 like me or in 1989 like my brother: We all knew "I've Got Shoes."

It's a Negro spiritual that talks about what we'll have when we get to heaven. My heaven will include a choir of angels that sounds just a little like K-State's Concert Choir - but even better.


I don't know whether anyone recorded the performance on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll be able to share that someday.

But until then, you can hear what I'm talking about with this K-State student produced youtube video. Do you have a child or grandchild who is musically talented? They should watch and listen to this clip and check out K-State Choirs website. There are several events for high school students under the events tab.

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