Eve of Destruction Circa 2000: Holidays in Harmony

On Sunday, December 3, 2000 while almost everyone was either tied up in their own holiday lights or watching someone else do it at the tree lighting at Henry Mayo, Samantha and I attended a free concert from the Santa Clarita Master Chorale at Valencia library.  Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t tell Sam she was missing Santa at the other activity or maybe it was because her music teacher, Mr. Eric, was in attendance, but either way we both were silent for over forty minutes.  And that ain’t easy.

Later that week I saw a post on TITT asking if the price of future concerts ($17 general admission, $12 senior/student) was worth it.  Of course I responded that it was but I wanted, as always, to say a little bit more.

In Junior High School we had a choir and I, not unlike all my school chums, signed up for this “easy” elective.  We didn’t actually learn to read music notes, or follow the “artistic director”, but we were happy just to learn the words to the popular songs.  My group of friends were all designated as second sopranos.  We tried to sing from our diaphragms but no one had ever pointed out what part of our chest this imagined metal siding lie.  We were lost; our only hope was to be drowned out by the alto section behind us.  But still we forged ahead, imagining in our wildest fantasies that our diaphragm was indeed doing the right thing and we would become the next Carole King.

My mother got thrown out of choir when she tried to join one as an adult.  Poor thing.  Had it been an elective in her day she could have had her chance.  We both now are left with the confines of our mutual showers and cars.  Imagining that if we just had the right artistic director we would have made it.

Samantha tried her own voice out with singing lessons last year when VIBE studios offered the classes through Parks and Recreation.  The classes averaged a little over ten paltry bucks an hour but she never wanted to practice.  When the recital finally came she made it through with flying colors.  She hasn’t asked to continue her lessons as she’s caught up with other activities now but as soon as Eddie forgets that she wanted to be the next Brittany Spears, we may go for it again.

At a friend’s funeral some years back, the recorded singer whose voice wafted up from behind a lattice fence, brought tears to my eyes.  I thought it was a recording of my friends as she had been a great, albeit unheard of, singer.  The only people that had heard her were at her friend’s weddings, her husband and her young son.  No, it hadn’t actually been her; her husband tearfully told me later, just what he thought sounded most like her.

Then there was that psycho psychic boyfriend of mine, B.E. (Before Eddie of course), that could make everyone around him hear his singing without opening his mouth or diaphragm.  He just had a hole in our minds he could plug his own brand of acoustics into, anytime he wanted.  He seemed to have a nice voice, in a very weird way.

After hearing the Santa Clarita Master Chorale I know now, first hand and up close, how dead wrong I was about any hopes of talent in my family.  These people were truly gifted, with or without the best teachers I imagined.  Their program promised that this award winning, standing ovation warranting, rave press reviewed singing group would charm.  And charm us they did.

The holiday songs chosen for that day ranged from the English to Welsh, written by Rachmaninoff, Bach, Berlioz, Handel and others.  The 45-voice chorale also performs classical masterworks, spirituals, folk songs and Broadway music.  We applauded easily after each song, building to our own crescendo; we couldn’t help but give them a standing ovation either.

Their limited holiday performances, at press time, have passed.  (How I thought they could have improved the wait for the shuttle buses-ninety minutes at times-at the Holiday Home tour.)  But in March they are holding a “French Masterworks” concert and in June, “Mozart and Friends”.  We, including the little one, are big Mozart fans so that’ll be the one we’ll aim to attend.

I admit that a few times I whispered a thought or two into my five-year-olds ear to keep her attention.  Once I suggested she concentrate on one singer and see if she could make out when he or she sang their part.  Other times we looked for the most animated.  I also promised she could visit with her favorite teacher Mr. Eric at the end if she were good.  Something did the trick.  Then I dreamed of my Junior High choir, Carole King and a day when well-performed live music wouldn’t make me cry.  That’ll be when I’m six feet under I guess, when someone else will be doing the crying.

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