Monday, December 14, 2009

The Glory of Christmas

Early in October I saw a small item in the paper, inviting community members to come and join the Loveland Choral Society for the Christmas presentation. The title of this year's concerts was to be "The Glory of Christmas." I knew when I read this title that it was going to be something I would really enjoy doing. I decided this was how I wanted to prepare my heart for Christmas this year.

I headed down to the first gathering that Tuesday night 10 weeks ago. (BTW, I met a kindred spirit that night - also a first timer - and we enjoyed the whole experience together). The music we were given and the first run-through convinced me that this was going to be an unforgettable experience. I was so pumped when I got home that night that I couldn't get to sleep.

There were 95 of us who signed up this year - the largest group they've ever had for the Christmas concerts. It was an amazing experience to sing with such a quality group of talent. It was a huge commitment, every Tuesday night for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, plus some extra rehearsals. I figured out that we spent at least 30 hours rehearsing a total of 20 songs. The director had picked out amazing pieces - some familiar with interesting, challenging arrangements; some brand new, 2/3 sacred, and the rest really fun secular selections.

Rehearsals and performances were held at the historic Rialto Theater in downtown Loveland. I knew that the small theater, which had once served this city for those who attended movies, had sat empty and unused for many years. I remember when they began refurbishing and renewing it, but had never been inside of it until that first Tuesday night. I wish I had better pictures of the beauty they created, but here are some views of the lovely Christmas decorations, in the dark.

This first one is a view from the platform to the back - it holds 450 people.

There were so many people in the choir, and such limited space on the platform that, due to fire code, 10-15 of us had to sit out each performance. Quite a few of us only sang 3 of the 4 concerts. The strings were on the stage with us, with the remainder of the 30-piece orchestra in the pit.

The bell choir, which made several of the songs extra special, was off to the left of the audience in the front of the auditorium.

Kristen took this picture with her phone just before we began singing - it's not great, but it'll give you an idea of the size of the group on the stage.

Our director is very talented. He's been doing this community chorale for 19 years. The society does 3 shows every year. He has his day job as an insurance salesman, but music is his passion. I loved it that he prayed before every performance.

Here is a view of the lobby as you enter the facility. To the right is the concession stand. I was quite amazed and amused that they made popcorn every night and people munched as they listened to the lovely music.

Each of us had to volunteer to participate in some aspect of preparation for the concert. I agreed to come early on dress rehearsal night to prepare the printed programs.

The rules for apparel for the concert were quite stringent. The women had to wear a long skirt or palazzo pants and a red, green, or blue blouse. I ordered the pants because I already have two black skirts which were too short - and one is velveteen, which has too much sheen. I had bought a beautiful blouse which I was sure would qualify. Unfortunately, it was "too teal." So I went back to Penney's and found a red and a blue one, which I was sure would be okay. No - the blue was too dark. The red was "okay." I ended up with a green blouse which one of the members had bought from a thrift store and was only $3.00. I will take back the other two this week, when I get a minute to go without kiddoes!

Ironically, the night of dress rehearsal, one lady had a blouse on just the same color as my blue - I mentioned to her that the costume director had told me mine was too dark. She said, "Oh, she tells me that every year, but I wear it anyway." She was also wearing straight legged pants, which were against the rules. I came to the conclusion that we "newbies" were the only ones who were so concerned about doing it just right.

Dress rehearsal and the performances were grueling in terms of comfort. The music was so glorious. I loved singing in the three performances. But my back and feet hurt so much from standing for 3 hours each time, crowded on the risers, with our music so crammed to our bodies that we could hardly read it. It was worth it, though, to sense the appreciation of the audience. Kristen called me in tears after she left a bit early to go to work saying, "For the first time this year I feel like Christmas." That's what it was all about!

Between the two performances on Saturday, we were blessed with a lovely meal at Group Publishing Company. Group publishes materials for Bible schools, Sunday schools, youth groups, etc. It is a beautiful facility and they opened it to us for a wonderful meal. When I walked in the building that evening, I felt so peaceful. It made me wish I worked there!

Today about 30 of us went to sing for the Rotary Club's Christmas dinner. Remember my word for the year? Flexibility! It keeps getting a workout, just about every week. This week is no exception as Kristen has strep throat and I had to find a sitter for the twins so I could participate. After we had warmed up, we headed over to the dining area to present the musical program. Unfortunately, the orchestra couldn't go with us so we had to sing to "canned music." Even more unfortunately, the CD player wouldn't work. We did an a cappella number first so that the tech guys could try to figure out the problem. It never did get resolved, but we learned that the facility had a boom box which would work through the sound system. They set it up as we sang a couple of songs with the audience.

Finally, we were able to do the 10 songs to a very appreciative audience. After the Rotarians left, we were served a delicious meal - I don't usually have prime rib for lunch!

So now - on with the trappings of Christmas. I still have shopping and wrapping to do. I will not do a Christmas letter this year, and will only bake enough cookies to send to Kev and the guys. I want the music to remain in my soul and continue to nourish my spirit.

May your spirit be blessed with the true reason for this season.


jmckemie said...

Dawn, sounds like you had an absolutely wonderful time this weekend with the music. May it truly carry you through the coming days and continue to lift your spirit. Merry Christmas to you all.

Hootin' Anni said...

I'm exhausted!!! Wow breathe anytime during this all?

I had to laugh at your 'newbie' part. Go figure. But at least you found a green one that would work. Thing is, if you're anything like me, you would prefer to feel good about yourself, even tho the other lady knew differently about the color choice of the director.

Now, talk about cold. It's that way here once again. I'm soooooooo ready for summer. Today, it's only 40 degrees and raining. We haven't seen the sun in a couple of weeks. Seriously. I'm growing fins. But, at least it's not snowing.

Everything looks so festive in your post Dawn. Now, make sure you take a nap. For ME! You got me tired just reading what you've been up to lately.

Christa said...

Everything sounds so wonderful. What a blessed experience and what a wonderful memory.
God Bless

grammy said...

It sounds like quite a marvelous experience.
So glad you got to enjoy it.
Longmont has an old downtown theatre like that. It is used by a theatre company.
Hope you get to do all the stiff you want to do before the 25th. There is still time (o:

Needled Mom said...

It sounds like it was everything you had hoped it would be when you signed up for it, Dawn. I am so glad that it was such a high point during this blessed season. I really wish I lived closer and could have attended.

I chuckled about the "newbie" following the rules. It certainly would have saved you the time of running around. Oh'll know for next year!!!

Sorry to hear that Kristen is sick again. It's been a tough year for her and the girls.

Enjoy your baking, shopping and wrapping.

Barb said...

What a wonderful thing to be a part of, Dawn. It's clear how much you've enjoyed this.

I've been scrolling through all your recent photos. It's amazing how much the twins have grown and hard to believe they'll soon be two. Of course, Avery will soon be two too and that's hard to believe.

Merry Christmas!

Susan said...

How wonderful that you chose to do this Dawn. What a great experience for both the participants and the audience. I love restored buildings.

Becky said...

Wish we all could have seen a performance. Sounds like it was a huge highlight of your season.

Merry Christmas to you Dawn!

Sammy said...

It all sounds just so wonderful! You must be sad it's over, but I'm glad you'll carry the beautiful music and the experience in your heart this Christmas.

Had to laugh at the 'newbie' part! So funny! (But I'm glad you'll be able to return the clothes you didn't end up wearing!)

I hope Kristen feels better soon! Prayers for a HEALTHY Christmas for you all!! :-)

Robin said...

Wow Dawn - what a wonderful experience! That theatre is so beautiful - I love the old fashionedness of it! Keep that music in your heart my friend - it IS what the season is all about.

Linda said...

I am so glad you got to be a part of all of that wonderful celebration Dawn. It all looks amazing.
Enjoy the rest of this season - take time for yourself when you can. You are so giving.

Maine Mom said...

I wish I could have attended your concert! Your commitment to the real reason for Christmas is inspiring. I passed a sign today that had this message (which I loved!) Christmas is spelled Christmas not $hristma$. So true! Your posts have been a great reminder of that as well. :-)

groovyoldlady said...

Oh, the music choral sounds so awesome! I think if I tried anything that demanding this year, it'd wipe me out. I'm glad it was the year for you, though!

Gigi said...

Absolutely lovely!! And Kristen's comment made ME cry...

Midlife Mom said...

What an undertaking! I am just overwhelmed with all the preparations you all had to go through to do your concerts! Wish you had taped a bit so we could all hear some of it! I'm sure it was beautiful and that everyone was blessed by it all!

It is really cold and windy here. They must provide warm clothes for Kev and the guys don't they?! If they are going to be out in this weather they need long johns, heavy coats, gloves, hats and boots! I don't think we are going to get much snow so once the wind dies down it will warm up a bit.

We had our Christmas program tonight and it was lovely. I wish I could have taken some pictures but I was not at a good angle to get anything.

I am picking Miss T up from school tomorrow and we are going to do some last minute Christmas shopping for stocking stuffers. Also if I can get to the store earlier we will make some peanut butter balls for Christmas Eve. She is such a good help in the kitchen!

May you and yours have a blessed Christmas Dawn, I will be thinking of you all!!! xoxox

nancygrayce said...

Wow! You are very active and obviously so talented!

Sharon Lynne said...

I wish I could have heard the choir sing! (with you in it) It must have been beautiful, and I would love to be put in the spirit of Christmas that way.

You have a lot of energy! Are you going to do it again next year? Or will you wait and decide later...

Your blouse story is something! It reminds me how we-I often try too hard in certain situations...and miss God's easier way. ($3.00)