When did you know that choral music or singing in general was a “thing” for you in your life? Was it hearing a choir sing or perhaps an encouraging word from an early music mentor. Whoever or whatever caused you to see choral singing an important part of your life made it something that stuck, that counted in the make-up of who you are.
For me, Mrs. Shelton, my elementary music teacher, opened my eyes and heart to the love of singing. She would put me in the front row of the choir and say, “Sing out Bryan, and have fun!” I have tried doing this the rest of my life and along the way other musical angels and mentors have kept me focused on my love of singing. The one moment when I heard the choral sound that helped me choose music for a career was in the Crystal Ball Room at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach on a very cold and snowy January in 1979 – the conductor was Weston Noble and the choir was the Missouri All-State Choir. Not only did I know this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, it cemented within me an absolute love of choral music.
Have you fallen in love with singing in your life? Who helped you see and hear the music in a new and thrilling way…made it change your life and soul? Besides the emotional boost we gain from great choral singing, we have a way to also bring benefits to our community, our friends, and to those who need to celebrate or weep. In a choir, we are exposed to great literature, poetry, and are able to connect to diverse makeups of our community, spread the love for one another, and combine together to become an amazing force of positive energy that we could never achieve on our own. And singing is an activity we can enjoy throughout our entire life and actually, science and health experts tell us, to improve our actual health.
I hope you are singing in a choir wherever you are today. I reminded my students over the years to “By golly keep singing throughout your life! I will check in on you!” In each choir I conduct, from children through my older adults, we have fun, we talk about the text, we strive for excellence, we allow vulnerability, we help one another, and we stand for goodness in each program, each rehearsal and concert. What a wonderful world I was awakened to…singing! It is more than just learning notes, working in and out of rehearsal to be better…it is a journey in making worthy “noise” for the world to hear! Singing counts…indeed it is sometimes the only thing that people can be moved by. Come and join us in the Liberty Community Chorus and create fantastic musical memories together.
As Weston Noble would say, “Now more than ever, connecting with one another through music is imperative. In a world increasingly defined by technology and its resulting isolation, creating a choral community matters. …music, and particularly choral singing, provides perhaps the most accessible avenue of expression of human hopes, dreams, frustrations, and fears. It also can provide the nurturing atmosphere crucial to the development of a fully dimensional human being. In creating something beautiful we stand against the fear of darkness, against all that seeks to divide us and to denigrate the human spirit… Through our actions, we continuously define ourselves as individuals, but more than that, through those actions each of us contributes to the definition of humanity. The actions of terrorists and all who engage in violence and incivility show the depths of destructive isolation, fear, and hatred to which humanity can sink. Although we can’t ignore the evil, it becomes our individual and collective task to redefine humanity in terms of the best of which we are capable. We can question. We can search for answers. We can comfort. We can create. We can love. We can sing.
Excerpted from Weston Noble’s address to the World Choral Symposium in Minneapolis on August 5th, 2002