Saturday, July 04, 2009

The gathering

At least half of the chorus is already in the rehearsal room when my family and I arrive. Low-key conversations are going on. Some laughter. A lot of stunned silence.

Hey, at least no tears that I can see.

Still, this isn’t the way it was supposed to be. This was supposed to be a celebration. Every Vocal Majority for the past thirty years got to celebrate during this time. We’ve been told we were the best yet, and this is what we get?

Really, I’m not bitter. I’m just… stunned. It doesn’t seem real. Or even possible.

I spot Jim Croley and David Peterson chatting quietly and approach them. Jim’s a 27-year veteran of the chorus and is also in my Bible study class at church. He’s the guy who first invited me to a VM practice. And David’s one of the first other guys I met in the chorus, a baritone I stood next to at my very first rehearsal.

I ask Jim, “So what’s next?” His answer floors me.

“I don’t know. I’ve never lost before.”

Wow… That perspective hadn’t dawned on me. For most of the veteran members of the chorus, those with up to 30 years in the VM, this is just as new an experience for them as it is for the rookies.

For a while I sit and talk with Becky. I’m exhausted, mentally and physically, and I tell her that I wonder if I have what it takes to go through all the preparation for another contest in the next coming year. Still, I know this is no time to be making decisions.

Before long all of VM is present. Even though it’s after midnight, my family is hanging around in the seats, along with most of the other guys’ family members. I love them for that.

We take the risers, and several members of the performance team address the chorus. All are surprisingly upbeat. All acknowledge that the loss hurts, but there is much to be proud of.

We learn that we accomplished every single one of our goals, save one:

  • We hoped to set a new scoring record. It turns out that our set not only scored higher than any Vocal Majority in history, it set a new scoring record for any chorus ever. In other words, our performance today would have won any previous competition in the Society’s history. The fact that the Ambassadors came along a few hours later and toppled our brand new record doesn’t diminish that accomplishment.

  • We hoped to score at least one “100,” something that had never been done in International competition, by the VM or any other chorus. We especially hoped to score it in the Presentation category, in honor of our choreographer, Chuck Mitchell. We scored not one, not two, but three “100’s,” all in Presentation!

  • Finally, we hope to dazzle and entertain the audience that knows us best, and from the response we got at the time and the comments since, we certainly did that as well.

So, in a nutshell, this performance was the best Vocal Majority performance of all time; the best chorus performance of all time – for a few hours; and the first to score “100’s” in International competition. We did everything we could possibly do.

We lost only because another brilliant chorus came along the same day and outscored us, which in perspective with what we did was an even more phenomenal accomplishment. They earned their gold, but there’s no reason for us to hang our heads.

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