November 2, 2008

“I Could Hear You Over Everybody Else!”

Posted in Days of my life, Mormon life, Something exciting! tagged , , , , , , , at 1:53 PM by Robin

Last night I had the awesome and amazing experience of singing in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  For those of you visitors who might not be familiar with this building, it is not only one of the most historic and sacred non-temple buildings to our LDS faith, but also an incredible feat of acoustic engineering.  The high domed ceiling and oval shape of the hall make every sound from the front resonate beautifully throughout the entire room, which can seat up to 2500 people.  Used for many years as the location of the LDS General Conference and other meetings, I believe its main use today is more of a concert hall than anything else.  Many musicians hope for a chance to play or sing in the Tabernacle, and lucky me, I was able to enjoy that opportunity as part of “We Also Sing.”

The ironic part of this is that my debut in the Tabernacle was in a women’s chorus, because you know what?  I’m not really much of a singer.  I played piano and violin for many years, and most of my performance oppurtunities earlier in my life were as part of an orchestra.  So, although I have plenty of music training, I have absolutely no actual vocal training.  I have no problem reading the music, and can carry a tune and hit the right pitch more often than not, but when it comes to all the various nuances that combine to make a truly beautiful singing voice–vibrato, breath control, vowel shaping, etc–I am really at a complete loss.  Fortunately, you don’t have to audition for this choir, so even the unexperienced like me can participate. That doesn’t mean that the music was easy.  On the contrary, some of it was very difficult.  But that’s what made it so fun, to me.  I need things to make me stretch and try harder and learn new things.  I really thrive on that.

By the way, two big differences between an orchestra concert and a vocal concert: in orchestra, we got to sit down the whole time!  After a two hour rehearsal and two performances, standing almost the whole time, my feet were quite sore.  Second, nobody really cares what your face looks like when you’re playing the violin.  Nobody cares if you’re looking down at your music the whole time (you develop your peripheral vision pretty well in order to read your music and keep an eye on the conductor at the same time).  Our choir director, Merilee Webb, would often emphasize to us in rehearsal to “share the love” and spirit of the music we were singing through our eyes and facial expressions.  So, I really made a valiant effort to summon forth my emotive acting skills and tried to look like the singers you see on taped BYU concerts (the ones that the camera always comes back to, because they have their eyebrows up the highest, or a touching tear trickling down their cheek).  By the second concert, I was really into it, too.  But afterward, my mother-in-law mentioned how cute I was up there and that she had been watching me, and as I often do, I started fretting about it more than if she hadn’t said anything at all, wondering if I had been overdoing it and making an idiot of myself.  The last thing I actually wanted to do was stand out from the other 360 some-odd women up there!  Fortunately, it wasn’t taped or anything, so I’ll never really know if I looked absolutely ridiculous or not.

Speaking of standing out, there is a long-standing joke in Andrew’s family, who have all participated in many different choirs:  “You were great!” they like to say to you after a performance, “I could hear you over everybody else!”  It might sound like a compliment, unless you are a choir person, and you know that the ideal as a choir is to blend together with all the other singers, so that you all sound like one voice.  I’m sure this inside joke originated with Andrew’s dad, Kent, commenting on one of Andrew’s early performances, since he has never been shy about singing out, as anyone knows who has ever sat next to him in sacrament meeting.  (Parley follows pretty closely in his footsteps, as anyone knows who has ever sat through a primary program in our ward.)  So, the funny thing was, as I went up to greet my family after the concert, my beaming mother (who has sat through more band and orchestra concerts of varying levels of musicality than I can possibly count, but who has not seen any of her children perform in an actual choir up until last night) came up to me and hugged me, and said, in full sincerity, “Oh, I was so proud of you.  And maybe it was my imagination, but I was sure that there were times when I could hear you over everybody else!”  Andrew’s family members were standing right there, and of course, they got a real big kick out of it. 

Anyway, it was a wonderful experience, and both performances went really well, and I had a great time.  I don’t know what excuse I’m going to be able to find to get out of the house and away from my family once a week from now on.  Suggestions, anyone?


October 7, 2008

Free Concert!!! Please Come!!!

Posted in Days of my life, Mormon life, Something exciting! tagged , , , , , , at 11:45 AM by Robin

OK, everybody, I would love to see you all come out and support me and my sisters-in-law, Liz and Holly, by attending the performance of our choir, We Also Sing. (For those of you in my ward, Camille Bergstrom is also in it). We Also Sing is a 365-voice all-women choir led by Merilee Webb, and we will be singing in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Saturday, Nov. 1st.  We are one of the largest all-women choirs in the country! There will be two performances, one at 5:30 PM, and one at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are totally and completely free, but they do go fast, so don’t wait too long to get yours.  You can either arrange for me to get them for you, or you can order them online at,8197,726-1-676,00.html  or by calling 801-570-0080 (locally) or toll-free 1-866-537-8457 (1-866-LDS-TIKS).

This will really be an awesome concert, guys.  All of the pieces we are singing are wonderful, and some are absolutely incredible.  There is quite a variety of music, from arrangements of hymns, to Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up, to selections from Mass by Leonard Bernstein.   We will be singing in Latin, French, Hebrew, Italian, and Hawaiian.  There are some extremely talented people in the choir, and then there are some, like me, whose love for singing maybe outpaces their ability for it, but Merilee helps us all come together and sound great.  I promise that if you come, you will be inspired and touched by the music that we sing.  And it’s free!  What more could you want?  It’d make a great date!  You would be supporting me and the others in the choir of course (and come on, I NEVER do stuff like this anymore, right?), but I believe that it will be a truly great experience for you, musically and spiritually.  If you have any further questions, just ask!

(Normally, they ask that you don’t bring children younger than eight years to performances in the tabernacle, but they will make an exception in our case for the 5:30 performance.  If your child is over five and you feel that they are capable of sitting quietly for a ninety-minute performance, go ahead and bring them, but if your experience with them in sacrament meeting tells you that doing so is a near-impossible task, you might want to get a babysitter.)

If you would like a preview of some of the songs, I have found some youtube performances by other people (different arrangements), so you can get an idea of what to expect. (I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but Andrew always says that he enjoys a concert more if he is familiar with the songs).

How Beautiful 

Sure On This Shining Night

Cantique de Jean Racine, by Gabriel Faure