This weekend (Sat., March 7th), the chamber choir in which I sing, Laudate Singers will perform their twentieth anniversary concert. The choir first started in September 1995, thus making this chamber choir in North Vancouver twenty years old this year. Lars Kaario, the founding and current conductor has commissioned choral works for the choir from the very beginning so most of the pieces will feature past commissions and one current commission along with some of Lars’ favourite pieces by John Tavener, Arvo Part and others. It will be a lovely concert.
I first joined the choir in October 1996, shortly after the first concert of Laudate’s second season. I had just finished my undergrad and after singing in a choir for four years at music school, I missed singing in a group. I certainly hadn’t sung in an advanced choir. I was twenty-two, edgy, full of myself and inexperienced as are most twenty-two year olds. I heard through another conductor that Lars was looking for another alto. I called him at home, arranged an audition and a week or two later, I was in the choir. Lars gave me a chance and each year, I’ve kept coming back. My husband and I began dating six weeks after I joined Laudate, making my relationship to Laudate older than my relationship with my husband.
The choir has been my Tuesday night home for most of my adult life, helping me grow as a musician and as a person. I have met some wonderful, lifelong friends there and I’ve had the opportunity to understand beauty in a fundamental way. It is something wonderful to be a part of something greater than yourself. When you make music with other people on a regular basis, if you are very, very lucky, you may get a handful of moments in your lifetime where you see and feel the beauty and the interconnectedness of all things. Being in Laudate for me has provided me with two of those moments. I like to call those moments “understanding beauty”.
Lars has been a very loyal friend and mentor to me. Because of him, I have been able to get jobs, travel to Japan, sing in various other ensembles and get opportunities that might not otherwise have come. He, his wife Anne and his daughter Laura have been very supportive of my family too. Our first son Daniel was born with what would later be diagnosed as Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and was in the NICU at BC Children’s Hospital for the first seventeen days of his life. The Kaarios came to visit us two or three days after Daniel was born and that was just after Lars had gotten off the plane after being in Finland for a week.
Now that I’m a old fart of forty, I’m older and hopefully, wiser and less of an awkward, edgy know-it-all. I’m definitely a better singer than I was at twenty-two. At my nineteenth season with Laudate, I’m the longest serving member of the choir. I have enjoyed singing all of Laudate’s concerts but I’ll particularly enjoy singing this concert. Here’s to the next twenty years, Laudate. See you at forty!