I auditioned for our chamber choir around the beginning of the pandemic, did a lousy audition, especially the sight-reading, and was surprised to be accepted. Since then we have been able to rehearse perhaps three or four times, always masked from the moment we meet to the moment we leave. So I had never seen the faces of some the folk.
It's chamber choir and we sing unaccompanied. We do some pretty easy stuff but also some more challenging music. Most of it I've never sing before because I've always sung in big accompanied choirs.
I'm at the list of my musical competence. I'm singing 2nd bass, and I'm really a baritone. I can get down where I need to, but I need to work on my volume down below. I'm learning the pieces, but I'm not a bad reader really, thanks to the time I spent as a kid playing in a competing brass band in South Wales.
So last night there were two new experiences for me. First was singing Debussy for the first time. "Dieu qu'il l'a fait bon regarder". It's wonderful music. Very much Debussy with crazy cross-rhythms and surging dynamics and smudgy harmony. It's "La mer" for singing.
Then from the sublime to a different kind of sublime - Rachmaninov "Bogoritse dievo". This is much easier to sing because the harmony is less out there and the rhythms are more predictable, but it's still quite exquisite.
In my previous choir I was one of the stronger basses, mainly because I can read the part and, especially if it's not too funky, I don't mind belting it out. In this choir I'm the weakest bass. But hey, they have not yet given me my marching orders, so in the meantime I'm having a ball.