By Jill Place, The Acting Intuitive

Messiah21 300x154 Messiah! HALLELUJAH!Well, the Bundt cake wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. But it was gluten-free. And it did use up a few lemons from my tree. As I glanced at the platter when I finally decided to hunt for something to eat at the reception, however, it was gone!

Making the cake, though, was just a minor part of the experience. We had been rehearsing for a month now. Today was the performance. I was understandably excited. But not for the reasons you probably think.

This is one of the few things that I do just for myself all year! No agenda, opportunities for promotion, or other aggrandizements. It’s just me, the music and the people. Most of the time, friends or followers come. No one did this year. And that was totally okay.

So when I sat down with a glass of wine and much-needed food, (I’ve never been able to eat before any performance or speaking gig whether it’s a professional lead or an amateur one-of-the-many) I began to ponder why I do it in the first place. What I came up with was this . . .

THE MUSIC. I’ve been in love with choral music since high school. My music teacher, Sally Tobin Dietrich, was a bit of a local legend. We did a musical and an oratorio every year. I “soloed” in both. I remember doing The Messiah in Sally’s church where half the choir was Jewish.

But lately I’ve been overcome just sitting in the loft and hearing the wonderful voices and harmonies that come from this choir as we go through out rehearsal paces. If you’ve never sung harmony, it lifts the emotions and the soul to great heights.

THE LEADER. I often tell people that, when I go to rehearsal, I just come for the show. The choir leader, Mike Wilson, is an implacable combination of musical smarts, awesome intellect, and pure wit! I find myself laughing from the first moment I enter the church and don’t stop until I’m out the door. Very different from Sally’s sternness. But he also manages to take a rag-tag group of volunteers and turn them into a cohesive harmonic mass by performance day. As I watch our hurried dress with orchestra and soloists, I marvel that it all comes together at 4pm the first Sunday in December. But, under Mike’s gentle but firm hand, it always does!

THE COMARADERIE. I’ve been singing with the same two ladies in the first pew for three years now. Leaving the choir loft after the performance Sunday, one of them remarked, “I sang the alto line all the way through on page 195 (we’re sopranos)”. I returned, “sometimes I realize, a little too late, ‘oh, I’ve got to sing there now’”. We collapsed in giggles. Truth is I’ve been singing with many of the same people for three years. And we’ve really developed a closeness that only comes from coming together to perform a task well. I haven’t found that anywhere else, even with lifelong colleagues or friends.

THE GLOW. I remember rushing through the stage door for a fast change after my first professional show. I had just “slayed ‘em” in theatrical vernacular. And could still hear the clapping. I found myself singing . . . “What is it that we’re living for . . . Applause, Applause. Nothing I know gives you that glow . . . like sweet Applause . . . “ There’s nothing better than doing something despite the terror and wondering if you’re actually up for it in the first place. I felt that with every performance I did. But then there’s that glow afterwards. I’ve never felt more satisfaction anywhere from anything. Not only that, the glow makes you grow. I’m so thankful that I’ve been brave enough to put myself out there again and again in many capacities, from acting to singing to speaking to delivering scholarly research. I’ve found that the desire overcomes the fear. And that’s another life lesson.

I just put my score away this morning. Back to the real world. It’s been my experience that the glow lasts all the way through December. Mike has announced that we’re doing parts two and three of The Messiah in the spring. I wonder if my crazy schedule will allow for it. And if I’m up for it. I’ve never sung it, and it would be a lot of work. Is it worth it to get the glow? I’m still pondering . . .

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What gives you that “glow” in your life? Or that camaraderie that comes from doing a task well together? What are you doing this holiday season to make it special for you?