AURORA NCAA – A snowy day in Madison

This year, our prestigious freshmen choir, Aurora, was invited to the North Central American Choral Directors Association conference in Madison, Wisconsin. It is thought a true honor to be asked to preform at this conference – and Aurora rose to the challenge by focusing in rehearsals, listening to one another, and knit-picking each isolated phrase until it transformed into one, smooth beautiful painted of sound. Friday morning, I was not at all bothered by waking up at the normally pain-staking hour of 6 AM – because this morning I didn’t have to trudge over to class and listen to the drone of math equations while half-asleep…This morning I had the pleasure of hopping on a bus to Madison! On the ride there, I bonded with the girls on the bus, put in my headphones and snoozed for a while. And a half hour later I arose to the serene sound of Sandra Peter’s voice: “Okay Aurora, we are almost there! And you ladies will all magicly change into your Aurora dresses somehow. I just know it!” she said vivaciously as she always does. I slipped into my dress, got off the bus, and entered Madison’s gorgeous performance building – decked out in lights and covered in windows which made us feel as though we had our own warm, cozy winter wonderland inside as the snow fell so beautifully that morning. Once we were done warming up, we had a chance to run through all seven pieces in the hall (decorated with chandeliers, stacked with three tiers of balconies and a magnificent acoustic). During the rehearsal however, I got the feeling that we felt the need to ‘fill the hall’, as Sandra puts it – a typical reaction to singing in a new space. But this could greatly alter our performance! Aurora wouldn’t sound like Aurora – the choir known for listening to each other, for singing in tune, for not competing but singing sensitively. I just hoped that we could ‘get in our groove’ by curtain call. After a lovely little snack in a café on the famous State Street of Madison, we ran through what we thought to be our weakest pieces a few more times. Soon it was time to take the stage! (I have to admit – I was excited, but I was also so nervous I felt sick. I really wanted to represent Luther well!) As we walked on, I realized the stage lights were not the kind I was used to – the kind that are so bright you can’t see the audience?...They were so dim that if I wanted to, I could see every expression on every audience member’s face. Naturally, that made me nervous. Also, we were not on choral risers, but orchestra risers – so we were spread out apart from each other, and my body felt exposed and alone, rather than the usual feeling of being accompanied by a group of others. But when we started our first piece, Puer qui natus est by Sulpitia Cesis, I was reminded of the support and strength of my Aurora sisters. And that comfort stayed with me throughout the entire performance. (Needless to say it was one of the least nerve-racking performances I’ve ever experienced!) Through every phrase of every piece I felt that every woman was focused – focused on creating a unified sound, a unified dynamic and most importantly, focused not on being heard individually but loving one another and working toward one collective sound. That is the message Sandra shares with us every day. And that is the message I believe we relayed to the audience that day. I look forward to our next concert and seeing how much we've grown by then!

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