The Vocal Arts of San Luis Obispo has been in existence, continuously, for nearly 45 years. We have had one director, Gary Lamprecht and one accompanist, Barbara Hoff. The group generally has sung three concerts in each concert series. There have been three series each year—Christmas, Pops, and Spring. Each year the choir memorizes three separate repertoires. Memorized. Completely.
That is why their motto for the 40th anniversary was “Singing from the Heart”. Memorized music lets the performer FEEL the music and project that feeling to the audience.
And that is why each and every singer feels like the choir is family. The choir shares the sound, the effort and the feelings that go with each and every song.
But this year, obviously, is different.
There will be no Christmas concert. There will be no Pops concert. The likelihood of a Spring concert is negligible.
If all goes favorably from now on out, next year will see and hear a Christmas Concert.
But singing for singers is a need, an outlet for feelings that have no other escape. It is a need to belong, a need to share, a need to make music. It is a driving need to create, with others, something that does not exist individually.
The last in person rehearsal for the group was on March 11, 2020.
But technology has helped. Those that wish to may join in the electronic meetings that are held on the regular rehearsal night. The first 30 minutes or so are now devoted to ‘chatting’, sharing the lives that we now have. Feeling the hope that one has, the sadness of another, the little joys and sorrows of daily living in this pandemic.
We discuss, ad nauseam, the chances of us rehearsing together again. And time and time again, we are reminded to read the New York Times article that raises the ugly truth of singing together. More than half of the group is over the age of 55. Many have underlying health issues. Singing together is no laughing matter.
And so the group remains in limbo, preparing, over the internet for a concert somewhere in the future.
At the last rehearsal, the director reminded the choir of the joy that every singer feels when, standing in front of an audience, the music brings everyone together.
In October of 2018, the choir traveled to Spain for an International Choral Festival and competition. Canta del Mar was held in Calella, Spain (just north of Barcelona) and had participating choirs from all over the world. The non-competition concerts were called Friendship Concerts featuring several choirs on each night of the festival. Vocal Arts opened one of those concerts singing four songs. The fourth song was the one heard at our last rehearsal. The following is of the full concert (all choirs) entitled “Music and Light”. If you watch all of them you will know why the judges awarded a Special Award for Repertoire to Gary Lamprect.
It brought back the joy. It brought back the feeling of purpose. It brought light to a cloudy future.
As soon as we can, we WILL BE BACK! We love to sing from the heart.
P.S. I am in the front row wearing red glasses and next to the kid with the reddish beard!