I’m the member with second-longest tenure in the Chancel Choir of the First Presbyterian Church in Kerrville (sounds too fancy to me; I liked it when we were the Senior Choir, or just the choir). I started singing in the Junior Choir long about junior high, and it wasn’t a couple of years before we high school kids were invited to sing with the Senior Choir. Been there ever since, with breaks for college and my brief career as a roving journalist. I also had a five-year break when I was in grad school at Our Lady of the Lake’s weekend college.
My closest friends at church are in the choir, and the alto section in particular. Soprano Maggie Meek gave me voice lessons when I was still in high school. Gloria Olsen is the retired executive of the Kerrville State Hospital and has been a great resource in times of turmoil. Nancy Scott’s grandson has been a Stewart camper and counselor, and is very loyal to us; BTW she is a great sight reader and has perfect pitch. I would love to sit by her but it never lasts because I’m 5-9 and she’s about 4-nothing.
Ann Reynolds is the director of our church’s YES Center, which tutors sixth graders; before that she was a special ed teacher and helped me direct Cristi Lee to finding a teaching job here. Anne likes to read and recommends great books to me. Tim Summerlin is the president of Schreiner University, and was the one who asked me to serve on the board there. He is very witty and a good tenor. His wife Mary Ellen is the former mayor of Port Arthur, former director of the Riverside Nature Center, is active with Habitat for Humanity, and is one of those people you can’t get enough of. Jay Dunnahoo is the director of the Symphony of the Hills, which operates in the black; he is a talented musician and sometimes takes up the baton for sectionals or in the absence of our regular director. We have a crop of Schreiner students who sing with us, and they are inspiring. I could go on and on.
On Wednesday nights, I venture to town to sing together and pray together and just enjoy the presence of my friends. It’s the complete experience: mental, following the music on the page; physical, using my body as an instrument, posture, expression, concentration and control; spiritual, breathing in unison, singing prayers and praises in a way that words alone can’t express.
We have been working overtime to sing a super difficult Requiem by Maurice Durufle. If you haven’t heard of him, neither had any of us. We will present the work (in Latin) on Sunday afternoon (nearest Sunday to All Saint’s Day). To be truthful, it is not my favorite piece ever, but there is indeed something special about singing with grand accompaniment: strings, organ, piano, the works, plus pleasantly talented soloists singing.
Hasta la vista!