The appointed hour had arrived. More than 100 choristers from around the world converged in Baltimore at Goucher College for one week of rehearsals and classes. It was as if I had returned to college when I opened my dorm room which was home for the week. A typical day started at 6 AM with breakfast from 7-8:15 AM. From 8:30-10:15 AM we either had a rehearsal or sectional rehearsal. Classes followed from 10:45-11:30 AM. Lunch was at 11:45 and time to study, have private lessons or rehearse privately. 5:15-5:45 there were information sessions, a conductor interview or faculty entertainment. Dinner was usually from 6:00-7:00 PM followed by the second rehearsal of the day from 7:15-9:30 PM. Over the course of three days, we had a choice of three classes each day. I opted for a private voice lesson with the soprano section leader.
At first glance it appeared a grueling schedule for the one week. We were expected to have learned the music prior to our arrival, and from the sound of what I heard, the choristers lived up to expectations. Most of us had anticipated hot, humid weather and were surprised that the first two days were rainy and only in the 60s F. I quickly learned my way about campus and which buildings to move to during the day. For me, it was a brisk 15 min. walk.
Each time before we sang, there were warm-ups and sometimes the faculty or apprentices completed that task. How great it was to have so much expertise in one place. This was my first experience singing with BCI. Some have been doing this more than 30 years. At the outset of our week living on the Goucher College campus, I was awestruck by so much talent in one place! I remained on cloud nine during the jam-packed week of singing almost 5 hours daily. I learned to pace myself and to sing lightly until the dress rehearsal and final performance. At all times, our conductor and other leaders were cognizant of having us care for ourselves and our vocal mechanisms. As singers, we know that our instrument is our entire body.
How thrilling it was to sing with such spirited individuals from around the world. I had many wonderful conversations with choristers from Singapore, the UK, Canada, Hawaii, California, Idaho, Colorado and many other states in the US. We were a unique group in that we knew we would never sing together again, but our love for music was evident as we interpreted Haydn’s The Seasons which we sang in English for the most part. Betsy Burleigh was our conductor, and her passion for Haydn was self evident. Her Ph.D. dissertation was on Haydn. Our score contained English and German words so I was excited to learn that we would sing certain passages in German.
Time stood still when we sang and worked on various passages. The days flew by and then Saturday morning arrived and dress rehearsal with the orchestra. Our performance on stage at Kraushaar Auditorium was 7:30-9:30 PM followed by an after the concert party. The entire week, snippets of words, melodies and passages go through my mind. I still find myself singing Haydn all the time. This special time was now over as quickly as it had begun. I plan to return next summer for another BCI session.