What if I’m “only” a choral singer?


I began singing in choirs in 1964, and I have enormous respect for choral singing and choral singers.  I was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus when Robert Shaw conducted those august groups.  Some of the greatest musical experiences of my life happened during those three years. 

Why did I quit?  Singing Soprano I in a 200-voice choir of that caliber meant singing softly most of the time even in very high tessaturas.  Then as now I have a large voice that some people label “operatic”, whatever that may mean to them.  I would come home from rehearsals vocally exhausted and in pain because I did not have the vocal skills to do what I needed to do.  Would that I had known then what I know now! I'd probably still be in the ASOC.

I was a church soloist for 31 years, and all that time I managed to sing the solos with a soloist’s sound and blend with the choir when I sang with the choir.  Of course, church choir and the ASO Chorus are two separate things, but over those years I was also improving my skills and attending many and many a workshop and master class.  I wish I had learned these things sooner, but at least I’m in a position to share them with my students.

In the fall of 2010 I sang with the brand new LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Chorus along with most of the LaGrange College music department faculty.  One of my colleagues was the director, and she did a great job with Bach's Magnificat in D, one of my top five favorite oratorios.  No, I had no solo responsibilities, just the joy of singing wonderful music in the company of good musicians. 

I honor my students who are working on their voices to improve their performance in the choirs in which they sing.  Florence Kopleff used to say that there was no difference between choral and solo singing, and although that may be true for contraltos like Florence, it is not so true for other voices.  I am happy to help my students with their vocal techniques and with their choral music.