I do love singing the Randall Thompson "Alleluia."
The donkey story is part of what makes live theatre such fun, especially if you are not on stage dealing with it. In a preview production of Anthony and Cleopatra here in Atlanta, the snake got loose during its big scene, and the actress playing Cleo nobly tried to catch it even though she is afraid of snakes. It was finally caught by an audience member, an attractive college student who majored in Biology and handles exotic animals. She had a round of applause from us delighted audience members. I don't know when I've laughed so hard.
The "Alleluia" is a gorgeous thing and I enjoy singing it...but prefer to be in a crowd of altos, not a trio, esp. when the other parts are all much larger.
Yes, I agree about the wonders of live theater..."You had to be there...!"
But the musical quality of a touring troupe in far South Texas in...um...late Fifties...esp. when the chorus was local...was let's say not up to what I heard today. Brave souls to come so far and offer so much (and *that* Carmen had the stage presence to quit trying to outsing the burro and make a joke of it, which I admired.)
Still...no one who saw it will forget the burro, any more than those of us in Mrs. Robinson's class, on a trip >100 miles away to see a college production of Othello, will ever forget the kiss. And the next one. And the next one. Because Othello forgot the next line and kept repeating "One more kiss....one MORE kiss..." In a matinee performance for high school students from all over the region. (None of US dared laugh aloud, not with Grendel Robinson glaring at us. But we wanted to.)
I am what the late, great Internet Monk would call a "praise babe." I sing in my church's praise team (but I also play electric guitar, so there's that). It's great to read these posts and note the dichotomy between your experience and mine.
We have one soprano who alternates weeks with the other soprano (opera-singer-trained), an alto, and the alto's tenor/acoustic playing husband, who we can rarely hear. Our bass player joined the Marines. His brother the keyboardist is working at a camp this summer. The harmonica player has to turn in grades every Monday morning and hasn't been in months. We recently lost our bass singer/drummer to a job shift change. I play every week, as does the leader/acoustic player--he who generally switches to harmony as soon as he's convinced the soprano has a handle on things. (I see this quite frequently in worship team leaders. As if it's hard to stay with the melody when it's just too fun to mix things up.)
This morning, our leader wanted me to lead the offertory--the one special song I'm least comfortable with. I'm a self-trained harmony singer and barely know if I'm singing alto or tenor at any given moment. The song before "mine" was one I love but includes a difficult (for me!) guitar part that I completely, utterly, irrevocably botched last time. All four times I had to play it. It was horrible.
The day was saved by the leader calling in a friend who plays acoustic, sings, and plays recorder. She took my guitar part on her recorder and sounded wonderful. I was able to get through my song the best I've ever sung it. (Which isn't to say it would be up to the caliber of your singers. Not even close.)
We haven't had rehearsals outside of Sunday mornings in months--the leader also coaches baseball. I'd love to take voice lessons, but we need a new roof and I just got my brakes fixed. No sheet music--just the words and the guitar chords, and even the keyboardist plays off that. Still, our leader's friend kept mentioning how lucky we were to have so many singers in such a small church.
There's a big church downtown that hires an orchestra. We live behind the worship leader of our former semi-mega-church who produces professional-quality events. I'm grateful to find a church that lets me near the stage.
There's an apparently insoluble dilemma that pits various versions of church music & musicians against one another. There's the obvious value in having more participation (when I directed a small choir, I insisted that anyone who wanted to, could be in it. That drove the better singers nuts.) But if you let anyone in, then you're limited in what music you can do because some of those people will not be able to handle the other stuff. There's the obvious value in having really good singers--opens up new worlds of music, gives more variety, etc., besides you don't have people sidling up to you afterwards and saying "I just happened to notice X sings flatter than a squirrel an 18-wheeler ran over." (And yes, I've been in churches where no one would notice this, but not many.)
And that's not even touching the matter of musical traditions and preferences. Some hate hymns (and some hate particular hymns) and others had praise music and others hate "hi-falutin'" music. I have my allergies in the style area, and I'm sure you have yours. If a church has enough members to have more than one service, this can sort out (although there will be sniping about preferences, I've noticed.)
I'm glad you were rescued by a recorder playwer and that things went well. I do understand about improvising harmonies to praise music...it's easy and it's more fun than singing the melody over and over. (Yes, well, I do have a bit of a mischievous streak.)
Last service I attended, the congregation sang better than the choir. Granted, it was not difficult, but-
But did the Burro bray in tune?
No. It brayed loud and long, but tunefulness was not its gift. The choristers who were supposed to be in charge of it tried to lead it off--it wouldn't go. Then one of them tried twisting its tail and poking it, and it bit the chorister who was in front, tugging on its halter. The bitten one yelled too. So a huddle of male choristers bodily picked up the burro and the bitten man, and carried the whole caboodle offstage. Once the burro let go of his victim, we could hear the muffled brays fading into the distance. The burro did not return, nor did the man bitten.
I'm sure the singer playing Carmen, whoever she was, told that story to the end of her career. The singer playing Escamillo happened to have more girth than any toreador--lots more--and since there was a bull ring scarcely ten miles away across the border, the audience was aware of that. Comments were made about the likelihood of this Escamillo's survival in the ring, and after the burro incident someone said he should be glad it was only a burro and not a bull.
You're making me want to sing again! Outside of my bathroom, that is. :]
Good. My work here is (almost) done. (Which is good as my work here at home is FAR from done!!!)