Lungs, Technique and Lyrics


Singing has always energized me. As I remember, Martha Kump, a Sunday School teacher, had a group of elementary school children in her living room back in the 50s. There she joyously threw open her arms and encouraged us to bounce the tones off the back of the room. She smiled as she sang, and her pleasure became mine. As a 12-year-old, I joined the junior choir at my home church in New York. Before you think NYC, let me assure you that the tiny hamlet of Otisville sits nestled at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains in a most unassuming way. Nevertheless, a new pastor’s wife arrived in town and decided to start a junior choir; immediately, I wanted to sing. Lois taught us to project our little voices and to sing harmony. When the rehearsals ended late Friday afternoon, she drove each of us home, no small task since the rural area encompassed miles! Somehow, between 12 and 18, while Lois patiently led the junior choir, I filled my heart as well as lungs with song. Worship, using words that honored the Lord and melodies that sang themselves into my soul, gave me great joy. The sheer wonder of creating music infused me with strength.
As a college student, I sang with the oratorio society, a group comprised of students, faculty, staff and townspeople. Because the organ majors practiced in the chapel until late, the oratorio rehearsed from 9-11 PM. Yet when I finished singing, I often returned to my dorm and energetically tackled three hours of studying. After college I sang with church choirs and experienced the same burst of energy and fullness of joy at the end of rehearsals and concerts. When the Washington Chamber Players and Singers performed Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, with Jerome Hines singing the part of Jesus, I sang through tears at each performance. Why? One of the centurions on crucifixion duty at the cross looks up toward the dying Christ and sings, “Truly this was the Son of God, the Son of God.” Powerful words, plaintive melody, and such anguished understanding.
Currently I sing with the Garrett County Choral Society. Previously I sang with the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, but I have not done any serious singing in about three years. Thankfully, Cindy Bauchspies trained me well. Nevertheless, I find myself practicing daily to regain the soprano range I once had, and to learn the German for Bach’s Cantata 140. Rehearsals take place in Oakland, a 40-minute drive from the cabin, and last from 6:30-9:00 PM each Sunday. I still feel the same joy and energy, but last night, on the way to rehearsal, I talked on the cell phone to my two-year-old granddaughter and her Daddy. Brent tells me that Austyn Grace has a new fascination. When she hears the choir at church, she stops in her tracks, determined to hear and watch them. That reminded me of the serendipitious photo I took in August. Hmmmm, her Papa Davenport and Grandma Wolfe may have the makings of a trio!

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