Game of Tunes

The politics of a local community choir can be as complex as any ancient fiefdom. We have our King and Queen, Mark and Crystal, as firm but gentle rulers. We, the choir, don’t ordinarily vote on things, but we do offer opinions, a staggering weight of them. When speaking at inopportune times, Crystal can easily silence us with the phrase, ‘A little flat…you’re sinking, there.’ As she points at the altos, tenors, basses or sopranos, she might as well say, off with their heads! It’s very chastening.

Crystal is not afraid to mix it up with other fiefdoms. She easily calls on the top dogs in London or New York, casually mentioning that she’s sent in her application for a certain musical to be performed in, yes, Flin Flon. Greeted with hysterical laughter or cold silence, she presses on, winning hard to get scores and months of crippling work for herself and Mark.

Our monarchy is aided by faithful knights and nobles, ie: the people who sing really well. It’s a great social equalizer, choir. You could be homeless and sleep in a box, not having showered for a month. But if you have a beautiful voice, we worship at your feet. People will fight to stand beside you, knowing that your golden notes will help them swim, if not with the big fish, at least the medium sized ones.

Then there’s the rest of us.  Though Crystal denies crying herself to sleep at night, I’m sure the desperation of trying to bring us up to snuff, especially when we’re not getting it, is like being water boarded. But our fearless leaders never surrender to despair. At least, not to our faces. And somehow they manage to whip us into shape again and again before we land in Winnipeg, or New York, or on our very own stage in town.

We’ve had some challenging pieces over the years. One of the hardest for me was the Alto part to the song, ‘Where the Boys Are,’ that we sang during our ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ show. It sounded so wonky and off key. I might have wept a bit as I hit the wrong notes again and again. I can’t remember how it all ended…perhaps with a bit of lip syncing on my part. But hey…bragging rights. You show me your Mozart’s Requiem, I’ll show you my Verdi. Much harder, in my humble opinion, yet still a favorite.

We have joyfully performed, for the last twenty years, everything from ‘Schubert’s Mass in A’ to ‘Les Miserables,’ with plenty of Christmas concerts and Cabarets in between. At the moment, we’re learning Morten Lauridsen’s ‘Lux Aeterna,’ a piece which has insured I wear my big girl panties to choir. There’s strange timing, high parts, fast parts, tricky parts, and some that make me want to cry, they’re so beautiful. I wanted to quit, seriously. But our faithful king and queen never lost faith, and we’re slowly sorting it out. And after all that, there’s the real blessing, the better than silver lining of being in choir.

When I head to McIsaac School on a Saturday morning and sing for two hours, it lifts my life out of the every day and makes it, pardon the pun, sing. Perhaps its the act of pushing air in and out of my lungs. Joining others in learning difficult pieces. Hearing our voices united in song. Or all of the above. Whatever it is, its all due to our wonderful Mark and Crystal Kolt. We who are about to die, I mean, sing Lux Aeterna, salute you. We thank you for your gift, this crazy group, this amazing experience, the Flin Flon Community Choir. And did I mention that you don’t have to audition? Someone please high five me on that one.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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