This year, the Rotary Community Carol Sing was once again filled with folks singing their guts out. And some very nice guts they were! Kids, adults, and seniors were accompanied by Marilyn Massey and the NSS band (who also busted out a sunglassed version of the Theme from Peter Gunn, a non-traditional Xmas favourite. Maybe they’ll try Hava Nagila next year).
Mostly snapping photos, I did sing too, enjoying being part of the many voices. It wasn’t my first experience singing, although it may have sounded like it. I’m no Cecilia Bartoli. I wander on and off key, and struggle to stay with the tune, but lack of talent doesn’t diminish my enjoyment.
In grade ten I elected to take choir with a friend who was keen on performing. I figured we’d at least have fun and not have to do a bunch of reading. It was fun, thanks to our teacher who was easygoing and made the eclectic bunch of students all feel at home (we were fundamentalist Christians to puffy shoe-wearing smokers to hippies).
The class introduced us to classical music and avant garde performers like Laurie Anderson, and we were encouraged to experiment, bring in our own music and songs and sing them for the class. When we were rowdy, our teacher would pull out his Barry Manilow records and play them as punishment until we calmed down.
Getting out and singing in front of people was part of the curriculum, and we would sing solos for each other and as a group for the school. Our class also ended up performing at a few gigs around my home town. We were terrible. Except once.
Our repertoire included The Lion Sleeps Tonight and a musical version of The Road Not Taken, as well as a couple other pieces, and generally we kept it together fairly well. One night, at a community concert, something magical happened. For whatever reason or confluence of forces, we sang in time and harmony and knocked their socks off. We knocked our own socks off, too. It was an amazing feeling; we had suddenly become a single entity during the performance, our voices becoming one beautiful sound. It was exhilarating.
And it was unique. Although we did sing together at more events, there was nothing like that one night where we had come together and truly harmonized with each other. But that one moment was never forgotten by anyone.
The community carol sing reminded me of that feeling. Raising your voice to sing with others and feel the warmth of community is exactly what a body needs going into winter. When the dark and cold are all around, it’s wonderful to feel the glow of togetherness.