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Choral Potpourri: Everything In Its Season

      “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1 
Today—Ash Wednesday—begins another season. If we are church musicians, Lent begins today….ready or not….even if we have not recovered from the Christmas Season. If we are not church musicians but in academia, we are probably preparing for contest season (junior high and high school) or tours (college, university and some high schools) or getting ready to go to our ACDA division conference. If we are in the professional or community sectors, it might be one or some or all of the above!
All of us are in some sort of transition during the month of February. I begin another rehearsal cycle the beginning of March and am holding auditions until then. I don’t always do well during transitions, feeling stressed with uncertainty and lack of completeness. I want things to get going, rehearsals to begin, and the snow to melt so it’s easier for my singers to get to rehearsal and get to rehearsal on time. I want all of the music folders to magically get put together and handouts collated and concert details finalized. If only it was so! Sometimes, I feel like Sisyphus, never completely finishing anything before I am forced to begin the process all over again. This year, I’ve vowed to take a moment to be aware of the small joys of doing those things I need to do during the transition period.
It wasn’t always this way for me during transitional times. When I had my church positions, I loved Lent.  I loved the minor mode music and the grayish skies leading up to the promise of Easter and spring. I knew I had to get through Lent and Holy Week to arrive at Easter and I looked forward to my Lenten journey every year. My choirs would occasionally complain we never sang anything “cheerful” during Lent. One of my tenors (it’s always a tenor, isn’t it?) would ask what the “dirge of the week” was as he walked into our weekly rehearsal. I would reply, “Its ‘Sacred Head,’ now get over it!” and we would laugh. And eventually Easter would come and we would all sing Alleluias and have Easter lilies and chocolate eggs and all would get back to normal.
In order to get to Easter (or whatever your end point), we must get through our own Lent. We must get through the snow and ice for us to appreciate the sun. We need to rehearse our students for the contests, prepare for the tours, and make arrangements for those ACDA conferences. We need to hold auditions for the upcoming concert cycles or the next academia year before we can begin the next round of rehearsals. We need to begin another repertoire search, do some in depth score study and get music ordered before those rehearsals can start. We don’t often think about the joy in that process, the joy in the transitions, the joy in getting there from here because it’s always about the destination and not the journey, isn’t it?