Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Birthday Concert

My mother turned 96 on April 6th.  Several months ago, I had the idea that I wanted to give a concert for my mother, with songs that she likes.  She is religious, which I am not, but I knew that she would appreciate having me sing the songs for her.

I have sung in choirs since I was young and sang in church choir.  I have sung in the University Choruses at both the University of Illinois and the University of Alaska, and, most recently, I have been singing with the Boulder Chorale.  I have also sung in the Fairbanks Summer (and Winter) Arts Festival - singing in the Women's Chorus, the Beginning Singing Workshop, and, most boldly of all, trying my courage with singing in the Cabaret.  I had even taken a few private singing lessons.  But, I had never had regular singing lessons until this past fall.  I am not sure why I started regular lessons, perhaps for something to do after I moved here, but I have enjoyed them.  My voice is lower than my mother's - I am an alto (technically a mezzo-soprano, I think), but I have also sung tenor.

At any rate, I invited my older sister, who plays piano, to take part in the concert.  She would need to accompany me and then play a few pieces on her own.  And, my younger daughter, who is just starting to play guitar, was also encouraged to come and sing.

Since we live quite far apart (with Kathryn in Connecticut, Alyssa in Washington, D.C., my mother in Alabama, and me in Colorado), it wasn't possible to practice together, but we all practiced pretty hard and long by ourselves.  And my mother decided she wanted to sing one song, too.

The concert was scheduled for some time around the 2nd week in April, since that is when Kathryn had spring break.  She and I flew into Nashville and drove down to Huntsville; Alyssa flew into HSV.  Kathryn and I practiced that evening on our brother's piano, but that was the only time we could practice together.  Sunday morning was the only chance Kathryn had to practice on the piano we had to use for the concert, but as she was practicing, one of the residents there complained about the noise, so she felt like she had to stop.

Kathryn had made programs for the concert, which, to my surprise, included two songs I hadn't been practicing (The Old Rugged Cross and How Great Thou Art) and left out two I had (Ave Maria by Schubert and the Camp Fire Prayer).  Since we didn't have piano music for the Camp Fire Prayer, we left that out, but we added in the Ave Maria, since I had been working pretty hard on that one. 

The concert was open to the residents, but we had purposely not advertised it much, as none of us is a professional musician and only I had performed in public much.  There were about 10 people who came, which was perfect - enough to make it seem like a real concert, but not too many to make us all extra nervous.  And all went well, including Alyssa's songs on the guitar, Kathryn's solo pieces on the piano, Kathryn's and my joint pieces, and Mom's song.  Mom even got an encore.

I recorded the concert on my computer, but I haven't figured out how to separate the songs yet.  I am hoping to make a CD for Mom to listen to now that the concert is over.

And now, the post concert let down.  The songs still run through your head incessantly, but the goal has already been reached, so it is time to look toward a new goal.  What should I work on now - songs for Cabaret at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival again - or something entirely different?

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