Answering questions

Yesterday, Kris asked

By the way, how did you get to sing in the choir at the Capitol Fourth?  Can you share your background in music?  You’re also a runner!  When do you find the time?  What is your favorite type of music and who is your favorite artist?  These are things we’d love to know about you.

I actually got to sing in the choir at A Capitol Fourth almost by accident.  The choir that performs is officially the Choral Arts Society of Washington.  Of which I am not a member.  Because they don’t have enough members available every year to perform in A Capitol Fourth (it’s summer, people are busy, spending time with family, etc), they put out the call to other local choral groups, including the group that I am in, the Cathedral Choral Society.  A few weeks back, I got an e-mail through our listserv asking if anyone wanted to sing on the Capitol grounds for the Fourth of July.  I honestly didn’t know that this meant A Capitol Fourth – I really didn’t know what it involved.  But we were given a person to contact for more information.  So I did, and I secured myself a spot, and then I realized what I had volunteered for.  Dumb luck, I guess!  I’m definitely watching closely for the call for volunteers next year!

I actually ended up in CCS almost by accident as well.  I was telling a co-worker that I missed singing, and she told me she had a friend in CCS and sent me the address to the website.  Just so happened that auditions were coming up in a week, so I auditioned and I was in.  I actually only sang one concert with CCS this season – I auditioned in January and sang the March concert, then was out of town for the May concert.  But I’ve reauditioned and am planning to participate next season.  Singing in the National Cathedral is incredible!

My background in music… I think I sang my first solo in church when I was in kindergarden or first grade.  It was a Thanksgiving song and I still remember some of the words.  I sang all through school, performing in choirs at school, cantoring at church, performing in musicals both in school and with community groups.  In college, I pretty much ditched voice for band.  I could sing anywhere at anytime, but getting the chance to play my French Horn was much more rare.  I still took voice lessons and gave a senior recital, but never bothered to major or minor in music.  I didn’t want something I loved to become a chore.  I’ve sung a few weddings as well, though not since I moved to D.C.

Other than voice, as I mentioned, I play the French Horn, though not much lately.  Played from 4th grade through college though.  I started piano lessons in kindergarden and took lessons for years, but it’s definitely not one of my talents.

I don’t know what my favorite type of music is.  I like a lot of different kinds of music, and it kind of all depends on my mood.  But I really like a good melody, especially if it’s something I can sing along to.  But it can be a slow ballad, an upbeat pop song, or the chorus to a rap.  Doesn’t matter.  I also really like orchestral music with a lot of brass.  I loved getting to sit right behind the orchestra (and right behind the horns!) while they played John Williams’ Olympic Fanfare last week.  It was so good that it gave me chills.

Favorite artist?  It probably all goes back to James Taylor, to be honest.  I was sort of raised on his music and you really can’t go wrong with his stuff.

According to iTunes, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Kate Voegele, Girlyman, Hem, Vienna Teng, Michael Buble, LeAnn Rimes and Timbaland.  Yes, that’s a weird “and,” I know.  But TH fans, I did just buy his album from the iTunes store and so far, I’m really liking what I hear!

When do I find the time to run?  Well, looking at my training log, the answer is “I don’t.”  But really, it’s not so hard to set aside 30 to 45 minutes after work to get in a workout at least three times a week, sometimes more depending on what’s going on that week.  I’d like to get back to working out before work, but 5:15 is just so early!  I try to put in a chunk of time on the weekends as well.

Thanks for the questions, Kris!  I really enjoyed answering them!

4th of July

So, what did you do for the Fourth of July?

I sang in the choir for the Capitol Fourth celebration.  It was televised on PBS and hosted by Jimmy Smits, and performers included Huey Lewis and the News, Taylor Hicks, Hayley Westenra, Brian Stokes Mitchell, the National Symphony Orchestra, and more.  It was a very cool way to spend the 4th.  The crowds were insane, and the view was gorgeous.  I’m also a music dork, so I loved getting to sit right behind the orchestra as they played the Olympic Fanfare.  And I’m not sure I knew there were words to the 1812 Overture, but I’ve sung them now.  With cannons.

One hilarious moment occurred in the later half of the concert.  Taylor Hicks performed early (I’ve never been a huge American Idol fan and so had never really listened to any of Taylor Hicks’s music, but now I can’t get “Soul Thing” out of my head), and later in the concert, he snuck into the back of the orchestra to take pictures from the stage.  I can’t blame him – it was an incredible view with the Capitol in the background and the crazy number of people on the Capitol Lawn.  But it was just so funny to watch.  It made him seem so normal, like he wasn’t jaded by everything that’s happened to him.  Someone took a picture of him on his camera with the Capitol in the background as well, and he grinned like a little kid.  So funny.

The one thing I was dreading about the evening was the crowds getting home.  Clearly, I live in the right area, because I walked up to Union Station, got right onto a train, and there were maybe three other people standing.  Definitely not the smashed in experience I expected.

I hope that I get the chance to sing in the concert again next year.  It was great to meet so many new people and to get to perform in such a huge event.