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Reprinted with permission from "Soundings," (Winter-2009), official newsletter of the Wisconsin chapter of the ACDA, Joy Paffenroth, Editor

Remarkable…

by Joy Paffenroth, Editor, "Soundings," Wisconsin's ACDA newsletter

Apaffenroth couple of weeks ago during my HS Madrigal Singers class, we were busily rehearsing music for the holiday season.  As I stopped to work on a part with the tenors, an alto raised her hand and said, “I know this has nothing to do with what we are singing, but I have to say it.”  Now, as many of you know, when a high school girl makes a comment like that, you fear you may be headed off on a tangent.  But, I decided to let her speak her piece and this is what I heard:  “I think you are a remarkable woman!”  She really caught me off guard there and my response was really just an open mouth with a stuttered “What makes you say that?”  Her answer was probably the nicest thing someone has ever said to me.  It was “Because you love what you do and not only that, you want to share it with us!”  All I could say was a teary “Wow!  Thank you!” 

Shortly after that, I received an email from Mark Aamot with the following attached to it:

The following was written to the Appleton North Choir, half of whom have now graduated, as a reminder of the power of music and the joy of touring. In June they spent ten days on a concert-tour of Paris and Barcelona. Their director Craig Aamot sent the choir a letter in September that included the following paragraphs:

It is a rare experience not only to travel and take in all that people and places have to teach us, but to also give back in a way that touches people very deeply.   I think that when people experience what you offered through music - positive, inspired, united, heart-generated energy:  it stays with them.  The people who heard you and smiled and cried and shook your hands in Appleton, Paris, and Avignon, still remember you and remember how you made them feel.  In a way, they are changed, as are we, and the change is permanent.  I think it is more than entertainment.  It gets lodged in us a little deeper than that.  We sense a truth there - a peace, a contrast to the unease and anxiousness.  And we want to stay there, or learn better how to.  The looks on faces after songs and concerts, the eyes and the reaching out to touch, the intensity of that...it's here that the cliché of music as a universal language really comes to life.   And it was more than the music.  Music was just the medium.  It was you.  It was us.  Human beings connecting with human beings by simply being intensely human - honest and open,  holding that space in which we create as much beauty as we can and invite all in the room to let it in.   It was the giving of something joyful, hopeful, truthful - meeting people where they were, where we all are, at best.  Be proud of the impact you have had on people near and far through your hard work.

We hope we've planted some seeds with you.  These kinds of experiences may seem rare.  They need not be.   If you are open to them, if you commit to letting life "dance," living fully, you can find this over and over.  Travel, explore, listen, learn, read, sing, dance, draw, write, laugh, be curious, be willing.  And come back to visit us every now and then.

Is what we do as choral musicians remarkable?  I truly believe it is.  We, as directors, share our passion for music with our singers and then they, in turn, share that with so many others.  I could tell you countless stories of touring with the Luther College Nordic Choir and how our audiences were so moved by the music. More than a decade later, I can still picture some of their faces as we sang.  It’s something I will never forget – and I bet those audience members haven’t forgotten either.

Please, take time this January to come and visit us in Eau Claire.  Take time to be moved by performances and inspired by interest sessions given by some of the best our state has to offer.  You will go home renewed and rejuvenated and ready to share more of your passion.  And remember – each and every one of you is REMARKABLE!

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