I knew something was wrong when I bounded into choir two minutes late and Mr. Walters wasn’t hounding me for tardiness. I looked around, confused, until I felt a hard pat on my back, recalls Seth Watring '15. I turned around and Walters apologized for the inconvenience, told me that he had to make a quick phone call, and asked me if I would warm up the choir.
I had never warmed up any sort of ensemble, so I was naturally apprehensive. However, without showing a hint of fear, I told Walters that it was no problem. After Walters closed the door to his office, I called the choir to order. Using my extremely limited knowledge of proper choral warm-up material, I took the choir through a series of physical warm-ups and simple vocalizations. Walters had still not returned from his phone call and I was beginning to feel the unbearable weight of a bored choir.
Natalie Burdine, coming to my rescue, suggested that we sing through one of our songs: "Chantez à Dieu." I told her that no one would be conducting. She told me that I should conduct. Feeling particularly courageous, I accepted the challenge, played the singers’ starting notes and began to conduct.
It was a surreal experience: the sound was coming at me with an unbridled beauty and unconstrained rawness that I had never experienced as a singer. My hands twirled and twisted through the air while the sound of the choir followed suit. For the whole song, I was twitching with happiness.
Perry, ever the critic, would later tell me I was smiling more than actually conducting. However, the choir at large seemed to enjoy my conducting and gave me a round of applause.
Walters, who had been watching the events unfold, told me to conduct the piece again. This time, he sang in the choir. I was overwhelmed that Walters would personally allow me to conduct a piece, given that I had no experience in the matter. When I begun the piece, I was shaking uncontrollably due to excitement and utter fear. My hands were able to move in time with the music and in rhythm with the mood of the piece. Once I finished, Walters stepped down from the risers and shook my hand.
Photos of choir practice by Robin Barr.