It was almost two months ago that the choirs started preparing for Christmas. Two months of late nights, seemingly impossibly high notes and seemingly endless retakes. And it’s all over in a mere 20 hour marathon of masses.
I normally dread the major holidays. Not because of the late nights, or the endless rehearsals. I dread major holidays because for the last six or seven years I’ve spent Christmas Eve and Easter Vigil down on the altar as song leader. It’s not a lot- sing the melody on the hymns, sing the gospel acclamation, raise my arms like a giant bird to cue the congregation to sing along. But I have a bit of a confession to make. As much as I love to sing and feel proud when I get a solo, I hate being the center of attention.
Yes, you read that right. The girl who loves a good karaoke night hates to be the center of attention. Go figure. Actually, I’ll share a little secret: my major stage fright was the whole reason I started doing karaoke. When I first became the cantor for the smaller choir, it took me a whole year of getting up every week and sing the psalm and gospel acclamation by myself before I stopped physically shaking every time. I started doing karaoke as a way to reduce my nerves. It definitely helped, but I still would rather stand in the middle of a bar belting out some Evanescence than stand on the altar alone leading the congregation on Christmas Eve. Fortunately I was only down in front for the first part of the mass. Then I could join the rest of the choir upstairs in the choir loft.
Of course this doesn’t mean that this Christmas Eve was easier. It just means the challenges were a little different. The biggest challenge was my solo during the 5:00 mass. Especially since it didn’t start out as my solo. Just a week and a half earlier another first soprano totally rocked this solo at our Christmas concert. It’s one thing to still feel line I’m proving myself. It’s another thing entirely to feel like I’m not only still proving myself, but that I will inevitably be compared to someone else. It’s a whole different nerve-wracking experience. Ah, the issues of being an understudy.
I admit it, I survived. All four masses. I also slept most of the day yesterday as I tried to recover. It almost feels like it was all just a weird dream. Luckily, Easter is on the later side this year, so I have a brief reprieve before I have to do it all again.