In preparation for the huge 3000-member choral concert that I'm participating in next month, the organizers planned several extra rehearsals at various points around Sweden. Yesterday our choir drove up to Kristianstad,* about an hour away in the northeast corner of Skåne to join several hundred people. Our conductor is Kjell Lönnå, who is well-known in Sweden as a choir leader and television host. We started at 6:30 and had a 20-minute break somewhere around 8 p.m. for coffee and sandwiches and a quick run to the bathroom, and then we returned to our hot, sweaty seats to continue singing our hearts out. We went through the entire program and several songs were struck and one was added...I think we ended up with about 25 or so in the program at the end. The majority are in Swedish, but there is a handful in English, several in Latin and one in German, and it's a good mix of styles as well, everything from hymns to 50's pop to Mississippi blues.
My choir is a women's choir, and we have between 30-40 members at any given time. It's been years since I sang in a choir with men, all the way back to high school, in fact, and it was a treat to listen to the bass voices rumbling away on my left and cushioning the sound from the rest of us. There was no warm-up at all, we just dove right in to the first song, which started with a series of notes on "ahhhhhh" in 4-part harmony. And as the sound swelled and buffeted around the room, I realized all over again how important singing is to me. How it makes me feel more alive in every fiber, hair and cell, and how it makes me feel more me. It puts me in tune.
Really Great Writing Out There Right Now: Literary Diet
*Which, amusingly to me, is pronounced, in Skånska at least, in the following way: Ki-hfwan-stah. Most non-Swedes who have heard the name but not seen it written don't even realize it's the same word.