40 years. That’s a long time. That’s a lot of life and people and memories and music. That’s a bit too much to handle in one day. Even though I made it a long day. My lights’ weren’t out until 5.30 AM this morning.
I am a choral singer. I’ve been singing in choirs most my life, and especially this one choir, Kammarkören Sångkraft (Sångkraft Chamber Choir) in Umeå. And Sångkraft was the birthday child yesterday.
Getting ready for the day I feel like preparing for a big birthday party and a funeral at the same time. It’s a day of celebration, but it’s also a day of life reflected through memories and long time friends. Joy, pain and bittersweet recollections.
I was a teenager when I first joined the choir, we all were. Sångkraft started out as a youth choir in 1972. Today our voices are more grown up, but the spirit and the musical ambition have stayed the same: constantly developing and progressing reaching for higher goals. 40 years later more than 300 members have passed through the choir, Umeå is a university town so the turnover is quite big. And yesterday people traveled from all over the country to meet in the love of choir music and our collective history. It’s a village coming together.
In the early days, we were all the same age, a very homogeneous group of friends, classmates, siblings, boyfriends and girlfriends. Eventually quiet a lot of us married and started families. We were a tight knit community bringing our children a safe and creative environment growing up in. My American-Danish friend Pete once joining one of our Christmas parties exclaimed, as we all suddenly started singing: “this is like a sect!” Well Pete, I wouldn’t go that far, but I am sure peeping in from outside might strike you as a bit… odd.
For the anniversary I actually did some math, and it turned out that this choir not only has created a lot of interesting music, we have also produced a substantial amount of children. How many? 51! To be more specific; that’s children sprung from both a mom a dad in the choir. In 40 years Kammarkören Sångkraft has expanded mankind with no less than 51 persons! Good job! And for the statistics: out of 19 families within the choir over the years, 12 couples are still together, good job to those who still are!
I was a member for 20 years. Then I took a break for 16 years. Yes, that’s a pretty long recess. But you know, singing together with other people makes you an addict, sooner or later you will have a relapse. Mine came three years ago. But as choral singing is one of those healthy addictions with very few side affects, I am not planning on going into rehab.
So, every Wednesday I am joining the 1st altos, and I get to sing and spend time with people who have been my friends since I was a teenager. I am not among the couples that did the good job. It is sad to me on a day for celebration, a reunion, seeing myself and my history through long time friend’s eyes, hearing me through all that lovely familiar music which is a part of my life and sings forever in every cell in my body. But right behind me, among the tenors, there is my oldest son surrounded by cousins from both his mothers and fathers families. The perspective is a bit breathtaking. And soothing. And Pete: a sect, no. But a village.