I DREAM A WORLD by Thomas Putnam
I had a rehearsal on Monday, and one on Tuesday afternoon, with kids who sing with the HG choral program. It's been a challenging two years to get to this place. We have not had a spring concert in two years. A core group of singers aged-out of the program. Covid seemed to try to drain the blood out of what we are trying to offer. Monday and Tuesday were the last two rehearsals before our annual spring concert; and those two rehearsals were so full of joy that I almost—almost—was able to forget what these last two years have done.
The youth choir with kids in grades 9-12 began meeting again in September, masked and physically distant. A small group. The concert choir with kids in grades 5-8 returned with only 8 kids. (We once had 36 kids in this group.) The training choir with kids in grades 2-4 had no kids and then our conductor had a car accident so we didn't try to meet all fall.
I opened up the youth choir to alumni and a few were able to join us for the year. Going into the MLK concert (which was rescheduled until the end of February due to Covid and a storm) we had a small, but solid group. Then, for a variety of reasons one by one the numbers again declined. Things are different. Commitment seems tenuous. Focus is hazy. Plan-making is sketchy. There's a lack...or a lessening...of some of the richness and fullness of life
But the HG Youth Choir sang a song at the delayed MLK Concert in February called “I Dream a World.” Words are by Langston Hughes. I dream a world where... Sometimes it even seems impossible to dream again. But the choir sang a song and we reveled in the dream.
Then we were invited to sing at the Wellsboro Men's Chorus 75th Birthday. I hesitated to accept the invitation: some kids were going to be away on that date, illness was making its rounds, a few singers just drifted away. But the HG Youth Choir learned a song, a welcome song from the Maori tradition in New Zealand, and we reveled in the welcome. We joined with five other choirs to sing and we reveled in the sound of voices singing.
Our spring concert is this Sunday. It's Mother's Day and some may stay away because of those celebrations, but it was one of the few days that our singers were not involved with any school activities. Our first spring concert after having to miss two. And we're singing “I Dream a World.” And we're singing “We Are Not Alone.” And “Lift Up Your Voice and Sing” and “Kyrie Eleison” and “Dona Nobis Pacem” and “Because All Men Are Brothers” and “Sing Me to Heaven” and more. And we're singing...and hoping...and reveling in the dream.