Every human roaming this earth has passions which set his eyes twinkling a bright, irreplicable twinkle and his soul ablaze with a fire of satisfaction and belonging. As I have grown older, these passions have solidified in my life, as if my chordae tendineae (heartstrings, for non-medically inclined folk) have latched onto these intangible things and consistently tug me toward them.
Among these are my love for my Coptic Orthodox faith, anatomy (and cadavers), BBC’s Sherlock, and reading (and also popcorn and chicken nuggets). These are, anyway, the passions of which I usually speak. Today, I’m bringing light to another. My passion for music—specifically, voice.
This choice is not surprising, given that the Coptic Orthodox church is renowned for its beautiful Coptic hymns. Since before I could speak, I have been immersed in an environment where singing is an integral part of praise. I relish the hymns of my church and hold them very close to my heart. I owe the planting of the seed of this passion to my faith, and for this I am more than thankful.
Ah, but I remember the beginnings of my exposure to singing in a choir. I was at an open house for my middle school, terrified out of my wits I would soon walk its halls. Never having been apt with activities involving the movement of spherical objects (I was more the sit-inside-and-read-the-whole-sixth-Harry Potter-in-one-day type), I remember simply passing by the tables set up for the recruitment of sports teams. In fact, I was probably hopeless about participating in extracirriculars at all, seeing as nothing had really caught my attention (what even is a “pets club” if you can’t bring any animals to school?? Wondered 11-year-old me).
It was then that a jubilant, enthusiastic, charismatic woman smiled in my direction and said, “Well hello there! Do you like singing? Or do you want to learn how to sing?” I pondered this. I was drawn by her excitement and also. . .something else that I couldn’t put my finger on. She reminded me a bit of an opera singer, with long blonde hair and eyes that shone with a light to which I was unaccustomed. This is the wonderful woman and chorus director to whom I owe the realization of my passion: Mrs. Beth Hostert, back then Mrs. Munder.
I joined chorus in fall of 2008 and found that singing within a choir was a delightful and elevating experience. It was decided that my voice part was alto (the middle range) and that I was not quite tall enough to be on the risers (I think I remained a floorling until halfway through 8th grade). I began to learn about the world of vocal music and slowly fell in love. We had practices and concerts, competitions and musical conferences. As time went on I found that I not only loved singing, but I was actually not bad at it, seeing as I was granted privileges and honors in our choral program.
Middle school passed and before I knew it I was thrust into the expansive jungle of high school. Unfortunately, my freshman year I refrained from participating in too many extracirriculars so I could “focus on schoolwork” (not really a wise decision because I was fine in school. Immensely stressed, but fine all the same). Come sophomore year, my friends all agreed I was missing out and so did I. There was a certain aspect missing from my life, and as cliché as it sounds, there was a gap I couldn’t fill. Seeing as my schedule was already arranged perfectly, I swapped out homeroom for choir, and off I was.
Soon thereafter, I met the interesting and buoyant Mr. Chris Moan, the director of the choirs. An outgoing, funny, bald man with an impressive ginger beard, he brought another dimension to the art of singing for me. I adored the three years I spent in choir with an adoration inexpressible in words.
I began in Concert Choir, which is the general combined choir. Junior year I was granted the privilege of being in BelCanto, the auditioned women’s choir (I was astounded that I even made it in, to be honest, having heard the beauty of their unaccompanied voices at previous concerts). It was different, singing in an upper-level choir. I learned as much as I could and grew in the art of vocal music, immensely proud and ecstatic to have made it as far as I did.
Imagine, then, my complete disbelief when senior year, I had the honor of being chosen to join Chorale, the highest-ranking choir at my high school. It was in Chorale that I began to learn the beauty within the art of singing. More than that, I learned that sheer talent can only do so much. The completion of a truly beautiful voice comes from a well deep, deep within. Through small yet insightful realizations as this, I can safely say that my days and experience from singing will no doubt stay with me a lifetime.
For me, there is always a humbling feeling in knowing that you are a part of a more substantial whole, contributing to the production of unbelievably exquisite harmonies. You close your eyes and try to soak in the splendor of the music washing over you and it is so overwhelming, so powerful, that your soul is moved; a piece of you will never quite fit together the same. And yet somehow, in some way, you contributed a fragment of this magnificent sound. It is more than hitting a note perfectly or correctly assembling a harmony.
It is pure.
It is uplifting.
It is raw emotion.
It my friends, is the secret behind my passion for singing.