Does anyone remember our season-starting open house back in September? How about the initial runs through the Christmas repertoire and our reactions to them? As usual, those reactions have morphed, evolved, bent and stretched and that first impression has been lost in the blur of rehearsals and the increase of our knowledge of the pieces.

So, as we prepare for our dress rehearsal, let me remind you…

“Text Me a Merry Christmas” looked like a bit of silliness that might be worth some laughs. Then we sang it. Then we felt a little nauseous. Then it went away. Then we were happy.

“Christmas In About Three Minutes” also looked like a bit of silliness but turned out to be fun (and the audience will love it). An opportunity for some simple Christmas cheer without a whole lot of holy-crap-this-is-hard-to sing.

“Gaudete” made no sense at all. Seriously. Deer-in-headlights. Voice parts singing different lines than what was written. Latin that wasn’t exactly Latin. Time signature roulette. Now that we understand the power of it I can’t wait to blow the audience’s hair back with it.

“Carol of the Bells from Christmas Jazz”…oh my. First the synchopation in the piano line that has nothing to do with the synchopation in the bass line that has nothing to do with the synchopation in the movement of the other three lines. The first few (many) times we worked on the piece it was truly awful…and we knew it. Throw together a mix of our conductor’s skills, her belief in us and a bunch of hard work and now it’s totally cool. Daddi-o.

“Salmo 150” was the scariest-looking of the pile and the one with with most divergent response. The new folks thought, “Oh man, there are four gazillion notes in every measure…whaaaat?” and the veterans looked over at the new folks and thought, “Ah, the rookies are in for it this time”. Now the rhythm is stuck in all of our minds for the rest of our lives and we LIKE it.

“Hisakata No” was…um…odd. When we first stumbled through it there was a lot of head-scratching and confusion. It just didn’t make sense. Yeah, the Japanese words were easy enough to get through but the way it bounced back and forth between the voice parts just didn’t track. Right up until we understood what the words MEANT and then plugged in the proper dynamics and accents on the proper syllables. It was almost like you could see the little light bulbs come on over people’s heads as they got it and now it’s stunning.

“Carol of Joy” and “I Am in Need of Music” also had a divergent response but in a slightly different way. The new folks thought, “Oh man, these look really hard to sing” (and they were right) and the veterans looked over at the new folks with knowing smiles because they were re-living how beautiful both pieces were when they were performed in the past. A little mentoring and now we get caught up in the incredible flow of both of them every time. I’ll bet one of my surfboards that there will be some tears in the crowd during both of them (and I’ll still have to gut it out through the “Oh friendless world” part without crumbling a little myself).

“Hine Ma Tov” was probably the one that threw everybody the most. It was hard to imagine it as a bouncing come-dance-with-me number when we were learning all the Hebrew and trying to remember that “ch” doesn’t sound like we thought it would. Now, with the clarinet flying all over the place, WE’RE the ones doing the dancing while we sing. The risers shall shake.

Do yourself a favor. Before the concerts come thundering down upon us, take a minute to go back through the music in your folder and remember the journey that brought you to this time and this place. Acknowledge the hard work of the boss-lady as she dragged us along but don’t feel bad about patting yourself on the bank ever-so-gently. This show was hard work. Really hard. And thanks to the sum of all our efforts it’s gonna be epic.

Trust the Blogmeister…the Blogmeister knows.