Sunday, February 2—yep, Super Bowl Sunday–while millions watched the Seattle Sea Hawks battle the Denver Broncos, a dedicated group of 60 singers from WCS, Kona Choral Society, and independent singers joined forces with Chorus Without Borders, a Japanese choral group touring the world to raise awareness of Japanese tsunami victims, to get up close and personal with Beethoven’s 9th symphony’s final movement, “Ode to Joy.”
To borrow adjectives from participants and audience alike, the experience was visceral, passionate, powerful, enriching, empowering, social, effortful, glorious,
exciting, challenging, and filled with aloha. When the director announced that Aloha Oe, the Hawaiian farewell, would be sung, the audience rose as one to sing, expressing the aloha spirit that dominates our Paradise and our lives. Some had tears in their eyes for the sheer joy that they gained from the impact of the total experience.
As an experienced choral singer with probably more enthusiasm than quality, more love of Broadway hits than classics, I embarked on the journey of learning this difficult—and HIGH—piece of music. I will admit that at the concert was the first time I ever actually sang my part all the way through—and felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment having done so. Whoa! I really did it–and then I stood a little taller.
I’m not sure if it was Beethoven’s genius that inspired us or if it was the rising tide of music from the integration of 110 strangers, mixing voices full with song to a complete orchestra and solo quartet, that made our hearts burst with pride from the emotion. Maybe it was a little bit of both, which caused me to say—I’m here, doing this, and I love the total joy—and isn’t that what music is supposed to do? Can we do this again tomorrow?