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May 24, 2023


I'm so glad. But I was - I hope - sympathetic when you dropped out. You clearly have very high standards and any doubts you had (I seem to remember age was was the dominating reason, but I may have got that wrong) would have been enough for you to take the hard decision.

Please understand, I sing but not for a moment do I pretend we share anything other than those bare words. The rigour you've observed, the hard work you've endured, the skills you've acquired put you way beyond anything I can even appreciate. Also, I know how tedious it is for pro-level musicians to be approached by rank amateurs like me with their repetitive and naive views and ill-formed questions. All I can say on my own behalf is that what I've learned from six years of weekly lessons is that the thought of having to give up singing is more scary than considering the likely outcome of three cancer ops during the last two years.

I'm tempted to go on, telling you you about my progress, the difficult stuff I'm facing but that would simply be more of my amateurishness. And would obscure my pleasure in what I - sort of cheekily - see as your "redemption". But I'm struck by by that line of yours: "There's a physicality about singing with others..." I'm sure that exists but, as you know, I waived the idea of joining a choir because I couldn't see what I'd be doing for the remainder of the week after choir practice. Cranking out the baritone line from the Hallelujah Chorus wouldn't be enough. But I have to say there's an internal physicality about singing alone, a sense of strength, which helps drive out pessimistic thoughts on other matters. The way the body, weakened by age, converts itself into an instrument, a consciousness of vibrations. One might say that singing is a sort of therapy but that would be to sell it short. How about a parallel life?

Welcome back

Thanks for this Beth, I never joined a choir but often wish I had. Your experience of this joy is contagious, even if only by proxy. I looked for you in the video but couldn't find you. Are you there, if so where?

A friend who is a music teacher in primary school says he is often asked by parents what their child's first instrument should be—piano, violin, flute? He always replies "Voice". It is, he says, an instrument for life, and can be applied to so many types of music and settings. I am so happy you have returned to your choir, to this parallel life. And, it not only benefits you and your choir colleagues. The entire congregation is lifted by its choir.

I'm so glad. I've been singing with my synagogue's small new choir and it has been a revelation. I had forgotten how much I need it.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.