Back on stage

The first rehearsals were filled with enthusiasm, with expectation and with a bubbling energy to get started. The results (honestly) were rather bleak. Eight months of virtual hibernation had taken its toll, and since the essence of choir is indeed to be one in the collective – to start again to find your place in the sound, in the team and in the music, we create together – wasn’t always easy. I also realised myself, that I was rather rusty at hosting physical rehearsals, and had to re-assess warmups, planning and working with “real” voices again – as in contrast to the virtual silence I was being used to. It is indeed odd how quickly we adapt, that virtual became a state of normalcy, and singing for real together something we had to get once again used to doing.

Nevertheless, the last months of 2021, we in Cappella Bangalore and The Bangalore Men, were fortunate enough to be able to do not more than five concerts – among those two performances of Bangalore Rhapsody and our traditional Christmas concert, Carols in the City, at Bangalore International Centre. The concerts were done in an almost feverish rush, we squeezed them all in the period of October to December – anxiously anticipating what would come, would guidelines change, would we be able to continue to rehearse, would we be able to carry on singing together? Therefore, it was of course rather of a setback when the situation quickly took a turn for the worse, and we were forced to, in January of 2022, once again return to virtual rehearsals, luckily only for a shorter period though. Since mid-February, our choirs are now meeting yet again for physical rehearsals – where we are preparing for our upcoming concert – A Passion Sunday Concert, including the short and sweet Mass in G-Major by Franz Schubert.

So let’s spend some time reflecting what our learnings now are – after two years of uncertainty and confusion.

Firstly – the power of creating with others. Undeniably, all our singers have during these times of hardship truly understood the impact of singing with each other. The possibility to express individuality in the collective, by being part of something greater than oneself, is a unique experience. Very few contexts give a person possibility to grow, to be creative, to learn how to interact with others, to constantly challenge oneself and at the same time have immense fun – as singing in choir. When a vast majority of these parameters were removed, it became clear what impact doing music together truly means on a deeper level for us humans.

Secondly, the fantastic ability to adapt we humans have. That, through innovation and use of technology, it was possible to carry on, and to keep SOME resemblance to normalcy during the most difficult times. Several of our choir singers, often expressed that the only thing that was kept them somewhat sane, was indeed the virtual rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursdays – come what may, but Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm – we Zoom, we laugh and we give each other energy. As mentioned in my previous feature article, published during the long period of lockdowns, the creativity and persistence is what helped us stick together as a group and connect on a deeper level as humans.

Thirdly, the need of humility, realising that the blessings we have are so fragile and can at any time be taken away from us. To cherish the now, to celebrate togetherness and to be grateful for the opportunities we are given. An eye-opener for sure.

So, back in the saddle we are! And indeed, it does feel amazing and remarkable. To week after week have the privilege to work with enthusiastic and dedicated singers that beat traffic, challenging work schedules and college exams to come together to sing baroque music by Bach, the Renaissance music by Monteverdi and the desperately romantic music by Mendelssohn, is truly a blessing. We are, softly and gently, looking towards a bright future, and hope that 2022 will bring us all joy, satisfaction and exciting musical collaboration – music is best, when done together. Chalo – let’s go!