"It's like running a marathon," I say to Lynn, who sits next to me during choral rehearsals. The program we're preparing that Monday night, to celebrate the organization's 50th anniversary, is thrilling, but exhausting.
We've been singing for an hour straight, ending with Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, the blueprint from which the Ode to Joy evolved. It's a spectacularly demanding piece, especially for sopranos like me. The opening notes are stratospheric, and they keep ascending. Trained singers who know how to breathe properly and where to place their pitches love it, but I'm not trained.
In fact, it's a miracle that I'm sitting here at all.
I love to sing. I've sung in choirs since elementary school. My voice is pleasant enough, and I can carry a tune-which got me through the first part of my audition for the group, six years ago. The next challenge, though, was to sight-read a line of unfamiliar music. It didn't look difficult and I began bravely enough when the accompanist gave me the opening note. But the first interval proved perilous: I couldn't figure out quite how high I should go. I sang on, sweating ever more profusely and losing the thread so completely that I saw the accompanist's fingers hovering above the keys, itching to rescue me.
"Well," said the conductor after I'd stumbled my way to the end, "you know when to go up and when to go down. . . ."
Nonetheless, he let me join the group.
I returned the favor…