The Soul of our Songs

Why do you do what you do?


I thought I was going to faint. I was a junior sitting in Senior Chorus, the most prestigious choir at my high school. Sitting among piano prodigies and future opera singers, I could not help but feel out of place among my virtuosic peers. We introduced ourselves, completed warm-ups and started to sing Palestrina's Kyrie. The music seemed to float off the page. We were one being with 96 pairs of vocal chords creating something too beautiful for mere words.

Classical music is an under-appreciated art, often characterized as stuffy and old. People feel distanced by the foreign words and intricate orchestration. Yet, when we sing Bach's Gloria or Barber's Agnus Dei, there is life within each line of the staff. The music stands on its own, immortal and thriving with an immediacy of emotion transcendent of language and culture.

Even when the bell rings signaling the end of class the mellifluous tones resonate in the air as the fermata begs to be held. As each performance approaches, every note is tuned, every breathe is synchronized, and every dynamic is perfected. Weeks of perspiration and dedication all boil down to the opening curtain call. For the next thirty minutes, my feet are in agonizing pain, yet I barely feel a thing,...

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