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Sunday, December 04, 2016

On Music and Choirs and Christmas

Jean Sexton muses:

Anybody who has worked around me when I was working knows that I have music playing. Music brightens my day, inspires me to work faster, and keeps other distractions at bay. Ever since I can remember, music has been part of my life, from the musicals and Southern gospel that my mother loves to the orchestral pieces and folk music my father listened to. My brother selected rock music that I might like. After college I discovered New Age music. All through my life, I kept adding groups that I ran into that I liked. Thanks to YouTube, I can explore a person or group's music. Welcomed into my collection have been Lindsey Stirling, Jordan Smith, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

I spent over a third of my life in choirs. I took voice lessons, enough to find out that I had a nice voice, but wouldn't be making my living at it  (nor would I have made it in acting). I love the harmonies that voices can make, either with instruments or other voices. Singing introduced me to other composers that I like such as William Byrd and Leonard Bernstein. I've continued to expand my musical tastes. Pentatonix, Peter Hollens (one person, but his many tracks make it sound like a group), Straight No Chaser, and Home Free are all new additions to my choral/vocal music collection.

At Christmas it all comes together. In choirs we worked for months to produce our Christmas programs. I sang my part all through the season. It isn't Christmas for me until late on Thanksgiving night I pull out the Christmas music playlist. People laugh when I tell them I have over 120 hours of Christmas music, but each performer brings something new to the mix. Amy Grant and David Arkenstone are quite different, even when performing the same songs. Chanticleer, The King's Singers, and Robert Shaw's various groups each bring something unique. (Robert Shaw is one of my favorites as he and Alice Parker arranged so many of the songs that the choirs I belonged to performed.)

Singing makes my heart light and keeps away the cold and dark of winter. This Christmas, if you celebrate it, I hope you find joy through music. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope that you enjoy the music you listen to.

Peace to you all.