I hate Choir Fest. I hate it so much I spend the entire year looking forward to hating it. Here is why I hate Choir Fest (you knew I would tell you, right?):
The parents, siblings and possible grandparents of 139 students are crammed into the old middle school gymnasium along with said 139 students. Parents, sibs, and grandparents are herded up into the antiquated bleachers that were constructed at the turn of the century (I'm making this part up) for midgets (this part is true, I'm sure of it). By the time we are all packed in together, knees jammed into backs, hips and shoulders disjointing in the heat the farting starts. The farting doesn't start until it gets really hot either and then it just hangs there, stagnant and deadly and you pray you don't pass out and fall forward into the beehive hairdo in front of you. Or maybe you should, it might be more comfortable and she looks sturdy enough to withstand it.
Choir Fest is kind of like the rainbow bridge. Not like when animals die but when brownies turn into girl scouts and there's this cute little ceremony where they walk over a decorated bridge and are greeted by their sisters in fascism (did I just use my out loud voice again?). In any event, this is the High Schools way of making sure the enrollment doesn't drop off when those eighth graders move on up and music stops being compulsory. So they do it in the middle school to make the middle school students feel something or other (I have no idea what because those 40 year old squishy seats in the High School Theater/Auditorium are LOVELY and the acoustics are just fine) and we all suffer. Also, it is purgatorial in it's length.
This thing starts at 7:30 and you might get out by 9:15 if you're lucky and it's Friday night and all most of you want to do is get home and commence with the Friday night drinking. As it is no longer politically correct to consume any form of adult beverage prior to any school sanctioned event no matter what time or day of the week, there have been no cocktails either and you can see a fair number of the congregation sweat. Toxicity is not fun.
There are 8, count 'em, 8 different choral ensembles. We have the 8th Grade Chorus, the Jr. Chamber Singers, the Women's Choir, the Concert Choir, the WesTones, the Chamber Singers, Women's A Cappella and the Bittersweet Harmonies. Lucia, by the way, is in two of these so there's no release in sight. There are, on the program, 22 pieces to be gotten through. I mention this because our choir directors have been known to mix things up a bit and add a song or two in between. Everyone in the bleachers counts the songs down. Everyone breathes a small sigh of relief as we pass the mid point. Some of the larger men use the mid point as the breaking point and bolt for the hall, sweat stained shirts billowing in the imaginary breeze.
It isn't that the music isn't beautiful. It is. These children are talented, devoted and well led. It is the conditions in which we sweat, wriggle, and smell. There are high points, like when the Jr. Chamber Singers sang Adiemus and there was this one tall voice in the second row that brought the house down and all you could think was, 7th grade, she's in 7th grade, will she make the Chamber Singers before my kid is off the circuit 'cause God I do want to hear her again. And it isn't as if your kid isn't spending more than her fair of time belting her lungs out. This is all good. This is the stuff that dreams are spun of, this is the reason for being. Except somebody just let out another of those silent but deadly things and good lord! is that woman really breathing into her handbag? Why yes she is.
And then it happens. All 139 of them, less the 4 who have become the band called The Fireflies, take the makeshift stage and the anticipatory hush washes over the bleachers creating that single moment of stillness when you can almost hear your heartbeat because you know that what is about to happen will never be recreated but will happen again and again, year in and year out and you know, right then, that you will cry when it is over and wish for one more chance to sit in the middle school bleachers.
This year it was Let it Be. I don't remember last year because that's the day Lucia left her father but the year before was Bohemian Rhapsody. I remember that I cried during Bohemian Rhapsody, that I could not believe what I was hearing and seeing. I remember wondering how they'd got all those kids to sound that way together in just three short hours (the only time they'd been together as a complete group). Last night I positively wailed. I clutched my gut and let the tears wash over my tired face and I let the music lift me up and carry me to heaven.
I can feel it in my middle, even now.