Friday, December 2, 2011

The Chorister's Nightmare

Yesterday I needed to check a detail in one of my scores for the upcoming CONCORA concert. I went to the place in my music room where I always keep all my choral folders. They are always – always! – lined up in a neat row, along with any papers, instructions, and other materials relevant to the current concert projects.

My CONCORA folder was not there. Not there. Not there!

Small panic. Check each of the other folders; had I gotten them mixed up? No. Check the piano rack, the bench, the shelves of music, the drawers below containing sheet music and supplies. Not there!! (Old inside joke: I could feel the Coffey Fever coming on. Eek!)

Bigger panic. Check the kitchen counter where so much paperwork has piled up. Not there! Lift the piles of papers, start sifting through folders (development, governance, fundraising, committees….). Not there!!! (Fever rising!!)

HUGE PANIC. Think! Think!! Is it in the car? (Run out to garage.) No. Check the music room again and again. Not there!!!

Did I leave it in the rehearsal room? OMG, that would be embarassing. Think!!! Start strategizing how to get there to look for it. Dare I contact the office and the director to ask if they’d found it...or could look on my behalf? It’s a hugely busy time for them – so much going on! – and my failure to keep track of my music is not their problem. No, I can't even think of asking them. Our next rehearsal is nearly a week away – surely I will find it by then. Surely! OMG, what if I can’t find it????! (Total breakout of Coffey Fever.)

A sort of silent scream rises in me.

I methodically searched the entire house and finally, finally, found the folder in a most unlikely spot, on the hearth in the library. Then I remembered that I had had to work on program notes in that room while we had guests over Thanksgiving. I practically fainted with relief. With great deliberation, I put the folder in its proper place in the music room.

And went back twice later to check on it.

All was well, with folders for Hartford Chorale, CONCORA, and (temporarily) the South Church Chancel Choir, properly in place and lined up where I can see them:

The whole experience was like a nightmare. A choir nightmare, the worst of all!

The other day while chatting with a fellow chorister, we compared notes on our “choir nightmares.” Usually my “choir nightmares” are mercifully brief, consisting of my showing up at a concert in my oldest nightgown, sans eyeglasses, with the wrong music folder, just as the choir is ready to go on stage. I’ve had that dream, or variations on it, a number of times.

But a few years ago I had a really epic nightmare that was so terrifying that I wrote it down. (Re-reading it now, I see some shocking similarities to yesterday's real-life nightmare!) Here it is.

Sitting at the kitchen counter in my pajamas - glance at clock - 9:30am! OMG choir rehearsal starts at 10! Rush. Where is my music? Hunt for it madly in the stacks of choir papers that are all over the kitchen; everything falls on the floor. Can't find the music. Late. Not enough caffeine. OMG. Recall that I have not marked my scores or even looked at the music. OMG. Late. Put on yesterday's clothes. Skip combing the hair. Late! Late!! Rush out of the house. OMG! Where is my music? Rush back in, look for it, can't find it. Where is my music???!! Recall again that I failed to mark my scores. OMG. OMG. Rush. Look for music; find only church choir folder and Beethoven 9 score. Give up on music. Rush out of the house. Car missing from garage! OMG, where is the car?? Must walk to rehearsal. Both knees stiff, so I hobble along but slowly, bent over. Late. Finally get to huge industrial-academic-type building where rehearsal is held. Get lost in endless empty corridors. No signage. Door after door. Late! Get lost again. Look for music along the way. Where is it?? Unable to speak. OMG. Late. Can hardly walk. Feet drag on floor. Try to call choir administrator on mobile, drop phone, it breaks. OMG. Disastrous visit to ladies room. Everything takes forever. Late. Finally find rehearsal room; choir is already well into the big masterwork and sounds great; I am all the more chagrined for being late and unprepared. Wait for noisy part to slip into my seat, no easy task since I must thread silently down the rickety steps in this room that is like a lecture hall. Sopranos are all the way at the bottom, front row; my seat is directly in front of the maestro. It's a miracle that he appears not to notice me; he is distracted by the basses. I try to signal to the administrator that I need music, to no avail. Maestro gives chorus specific, detailed instruction about what to do at measure 12. Chorister from the bass section who was not paying attention asks, "Um...What do you want us to do at m.12?" Maestro fumes and glares. OMG, this is a really bad day to show up late, no scores, unprepared. I sneak out - hope he didn't notice me - and wake up in a cold sweat.


More of my essays on the life of a chorister, and more about choral rehearsals and choral music, may be found here:

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