This weekend I participated in NYSSMA Conference All-State Choir. I had to audition in the spring, and only the best singers in the state get in (not to toot my own horn). Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. For 3 days, I spent about as many hours sleeping as I did rehearsing (about 6 hrs of each), and I made friends and had Christmas song jam sessions.
Although I could write about many awesome things from my experience, the thing I most want to talk about is the actual program for the concert that the choir I was in performed. Our conductor, Dr. David Fryling, selected 7 pieces for us to perform, all with a common theme that we as a choir talked about during rehearsal. All of the songs Dr. Fryling selected were related to cloudy skies, day and night, light and dark.
The first two songs were about shade coming into the light, and the next three about night and a sort of metaphorical “drowning” in rain. But the 6th song, my personal favorite, was called “Cloudburst” by Octavio Paz, arranged by musical genius Eric Whittacre. The song itself is about a drought and about the rain coming and washing everything into new life. As the choir discussed it, we noticed that the first five songs all seemed to have this common theme of cloudlessness being a good thing, and shade and the absence of sun being bad. I mean, there was literally a song called “Unclouded Day”. But in “Cloudburst”, there was another layer to this theme, saying that while generally rain was darkness, with loud, percussive thunder, it could also be beautiful, and even replenishing.
“Cloudburst” was an entirely different look on the whole comparison of light and dark. The message that sometimes, although they can be harsh, rainstorms can wash away the bad and clean the slate for a new day, like rebirth. This was reflected in the song that followed “Cloudburst” called “Light of a Clear Blue Morning”. “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” starts off by saying that after a “long, hard night” there’s a “brand new day a-dawning”.
With the seamless connection from the only song that shed a light (no pun intended) on the positives of rain washing away the old for the new, to a song about the light after a storm, a beautiful arc of a story was told in our songs.
When asked why he chose these songs, Dr. Fryling said that he thought about our group, and where we are in our lives right now (juniors and seniors in high school). I can totally see how while right now might be a difficult time for most of us (they call 11th grade “hell year” for a reason), there is a light at the end of our rainstorm, as we venture out into the real world. Or at least into college.