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“There is no talking in solo auditions, only singing.”
“If you talk during someone’s solo, I will put a mark by your name and you will not get a solo,” said Deb seriously as she leaned on her elbow.
We were in a low ceilinged room with all white walls. There were about twenty girls in a semi circle. All of us were looking a little nervous. These were the solo auditions of the Portland Symphonic Girl Choir.
I was feeling a little uncomfortable as the solo auditions started. I really wanted a solo. But I didn’t think I would get one. At that time I liked to say the opposite of what I hoped so it would turn out the way I wanted. This sometimes worked and sometimes it didn’t, As the solo started to come around to me, the room started to get warmer, and warmer and I was having harder and harder time breathing. Then it was my turn. The solo we were singing was a march down the staff and it didn’t start very high. I finished and I thought I had done badly, but I really wasn’t sure.
The next week there was a paper posted on the wall. From a long way away I knew the heading, Soloists. I started to run toward the poster. There were many names on that list. I ran my eyes over it like a photocopier does a print and eventually I found my name! I was singing the only real solo (meaning I was completely alone) at the biggest concert of the year. I felt a little faint.
“Dang I hate nylons!” I told my best friend Maya before the concert.
“Why do we have to wear the reatched things?” screamed Maya in frustration.
“Girls time to go!” we heard from down stairs.
Maya and I finished putting on our uniforms that included a skirt, a white blouse, a rosette, black shoes, and nylons (the most annoying thing in the world). We tramped down the stairs and out the door. We were riding with Maya’s mom Rebecca to the concert. The singers have to be there three hours earlier because we have to have time to practice, eat lunch, and get ready for the concert.
“Do you have everything?” my mom called from the steps as we approached the car. When we got there, it was the usual panic of a Girl Choir concert, which I had become quite accustomed to. In the Portland Symphonic Girl Choir there are four smaller choirs: Prelude 1st-3rd grade, Debut 3rd-5th grade, Intermezzo 5th-7th grade (the choir I was in that year and still am) and Premier. Deb (conductor) and Roberta (conductor) were trying to get everybody ready for practice.
The hall we were singing in was spacious and beautiful. It was made of wood with a nice wood stage and big roomy seats. The place smelled like a wood working shop.
The practice before a concert is very much like the concert itself except the stress level is not the same and there is lots more talking. During the practice, I did not get to sing my solo, which increased my excitement and nervousness ten fold.
After practice, we had lunch. I talked with my friends and ate. Soon however, it was time to go in.
The concert start was pretty normal. It began with the usual procession into the hall while singing “Siahumba,” an old tribal song. When we march in, the different choirs get into line and walk through the crowd onto the stage. The song is in five different parts. As the concert wore on, I started to realize that my solo song was coming up in three songs, now two songs, then it was “Away from the Roll of the Sea,” a very complex four part song that Intermezzo had been working on for the past three months. After that song was finished, I started to really sweat. The choir all sat down except for me. There was no question that it was my solo. I was frozen for I don’t know how long, but it wasn’t very long because the crowd didn’t do anything. Slowly, I stepped from my row.
I felt so small, I was the only one standing except for the Conductor, Deb. I walked to the microphone and my heart started to beat so hard the audience must have thought the beginning of the song was a steady drum beat. I finally got to the microphone, my body felt like a strobe light of hot and cold. Hot, cold. Then, Tamara, the pianist, started the introduction and the heart that had a second ago been a strobe light all of a sudden adjusted itself to meet the tempo of the song. I felt a bead of sweat drip from my forehead down my ski slope nose onto my lips. I tasted the salt in my mouth. My cue was in four measures, then three, two, breathe and then I started to sing. I heard each note as the audience did - a deep, beautiful Vibrato. The solo ended and I finally started to breathe normally, and I regained homeostasis. I just felt better.
After the concert, my mom pretty much described my solo to me: “There is this tiny little person who steps to the microphone, smiles at her director and starts to sing. You expect to hear a small voice, maybe unsure. But no, from this little mouth comes a big, beautiful, strong voice. It was basically equivalent to a mouse singing Phantom of the Opera.”
I know that mothers are always very doting of their children, but it was a very special moment.
This solo is significant in my life because I had never sung all by myself in front of 200 people before. Another reason that this was significant was because it taught me that I can do it, no matter how low I have to go!