"Holiday Pops" on Sirius Internet Radio (which has a free 7-day trial which I'm checking out).
What does that expression I've head so much -- "to serve art" -- really mean? As an avocational singer, I feel that I'm beginning to come closer to an understanding of what it means. As I now am participating in two local musical choirs, and come into contact with all the excellent voices and musicianship surrounding me, and experience the leadership of very musical and accomplished directors, it has been given me a great joy to finally begin to realize that music as an art can be served in so many ways at so many places and so many times. It doesn't depend on the venue, necessarily. The presence of a person dedicated to serving art in a small local group can make the difference for everyone.
I am still glowing from the holiday concert this past weekend given by our all-women's community choir. We sang to a packed house. We have been here seven years and now have a local following and our concerts are full of warmth and love. Our families, children, neighbors, local shopkeepers, all gather together and we all just have a great evening together. We've all helped to produce it -- from the families that made do without the family member who was rehearsing, to the friends that set aside the date and bought a ticket to come in, to the local businesses that bought an ad in the program -- each and every one of us has cause to celebrate the fact that this production is happening because of a contribution we made that makes a difference. As a community, we have produced some art and it is special because it is our own.
I had a little solo in Britten's Ceremony of Carols. Afterward, I was presented with the customary little bouquet of flowers, and as I walked to the back of the church at the end of the concert, my daughter and several of her friends gathered around me, a bouquet of flowers of a different kind. Their faces were shining and smiling and they wanted to talk to me because I was someone they knew in the choir. I loved them there with me so much that I wanted to give them something, so I began to pluck flowers out of my bouquet and hand one to each of the girls. "You don't have to do that!" they protested, as if I was giving away something so precious and valuable. But the sight of them walking away with a flower was so beautiful I could think of no better way to enjoy that bouquet of flowers (Besides, I kept the ones I really loved -- the roses).
I think it could be so beautiful to grow a movement to support local music groups something like the movement to support local farmers and growers within the community. The little choirs and chamber groups and small opera companies (like the one I saw in Princeton this past summer) remind me so much of the small farmers. While the farmers are planting seeds, using their organic farming methods, and producing crops to bring to the local farmer's market, the small community music groups are selecting their repertoire, rehearsing and growing their musical performances to bring to the center of the town for consumption by the community.
The way our community choir is bringing us together to partake of the same musical experience unifies us, just like sharing the same food does, even if for one evening. It is a very inspiring and beautiful thing and I think it cuts to the heart, perhaps, of what being an avocational singer is truly all about.
And the children who are there absorb this music, and seeds are being sewn in their hearts that serves to keep the music alive from generation to generation. Who knows what will come of it?