I wish you could have been there last night as Kathy, Kate Barrow and I rehearsed together for a Caritas performance coming up tomorrow night. Kate has been gone on vacation and just hated to leave her two beloved dogs, Pete and Grace, at home alone. . . so they came along to frolic with our two hounds, which worked out beautifully. But Grace is actually happiest in Kate’s arms, especially when there are three rambunctious golden retrievers around. So that’s where she was as we rehearsed, from start to finish. She was perfectly quiet and serene until we started cranking up the volume and Kate headed towards the top of her range. . . That’s when she started howling along, as though she had a special soprano descant written especially for the occasion. She was especially inspired as we sang “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” as we cut loose on the refrain. “Leeeeeeaning. . . “ we would sing, and Gracie would chime in with her own “Owooooooooooooo. . . “ that would leave us cracking up on the floor. And then Gracie would just look out at us with this nonplussed expression on her face, as if to say “What? Was I flat?”
Ah, the memories that brings back! Our cocker spaniel Luther would sing along with Kathy and me, although normal, pretty singing never seemed to get him going. Kathy and I would have to hit two notes a half step apart – sort of like the old two-tone EBS signal. . . and sustain it loudly and for as long as we could before Luther would throw his head back and howl like a coyote. One might have thought that he was doing it out of pain or displeasure, but his tail would always be wagging like crazy. . . and we’re pretty sure that he was singing along because he didn’t want to be left out.
Neither of our golden retrievers seem the least bit interested in singing. . . Too bad. They don’t know what they’re missing!
I especially felt that way as we finished up our rehearsal. What a joy to be singing together again after WAY too long a break. We are singing for a special concert at Racine’s First Presbyterian Church – a benefit concert for a performance series called Music & More. We are sharing the program with some big guns, so we are trying to get our act together as securely as possible…. Hence the rehearsal versus flying by the seat of our collective pants. We’ll open with a favorite of ours that we could sing in our sleep – the aforementioned “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” – plus my new setting of “Softly and Tenderly” . . . and then move on to a three-song medley from “Honky Tonk Angels” and then three songs by the great Cole Porter, finishing with “True Love.” It has been months since the three of us were in a room, singing together…. tragic but true…. but all we have to do is sing a couple bars and it’s like we never took a break. And when Kathy and Kate sing together, it’s like they share the same throat! I’ve been luxuriating in that remarkable blend for just over fifteen years, but it still knocks me flat. And to be able to join along is still among my very highest pleasures. I only wish that the pace of our lives allowed for us to sing much much more often. As it is, singing together is an all too rare treat, which makes us cherish it all the more.
pictured above: Kate and Gracie, in mid-performance.