Raindrops keep falling on my head, Day 6
Today is admittedly not an easy day for me to post. It’s cold in my apartment, it’s rainy outside, and I want to hide away and do nothing but watch TV with my Snuggie (don’t laugh, my mother bought me one for Christmas, and it’s embarrassingly great).
Yesterday was even worse. Every week, I sing at a church on the Upper East Side. For those of you who don’t sing for a living, it may come as a shock that many classical singers make part of their living by singing in houses of worship. Soloists, cantors, and choir members are often paid professionals. We attend worship believing that everyone there volunteers, for the good of the faith. That may be so in part, but not always in whole. Some choirs do not accept volunteers and pay every one of their singers. Others, like mine, employ several professional singers to complement and lead the core of volunteer choristers.
Singing at yesterday’s service was a bit painful. Think of a hundred reasons why, and you’re very unlikely to guess. Sadly, several of my friends and colleagues lost their jobs this weekend. Sometime last summer, our dear friend and interim choir director took a full-time post at an excellent temple and had to turn down the church’s offer for a permanent appointment. Autumn began our search for someone to attempt to fill his shoes. Weekly, the choir suffered the auditions of several candidates, some who played organ well but couldn’t conduct, some who conducted well but embarrassed themselves at the organ console, a couple who did pretty well but weren’t the right fit, and one who made every bad conductor with whom I’ve ever worked look like a God.
One week, a different man came to audition who spoke professionally, played well, conducted the group well, and came with excellent experience and recommendations. As in previous weeks, each choir member gave his or her opinion in written comments; although this time, we just about unanimously agreed that we wanted him to stay on as our permanent director. I doubt he knows this at all, but the committee responsible for hiring assured us they would not hire anyone we did not approve. So far, I do still believe he was the best candidate and though some disagree about the benefit of having a world-class harpsichordist to introduce the church to some beautiful harpsichord music, I personally love listening to the preludes for a change.
Understandably, our choir had some rough edges, and some changes were inevitable. On the other hand, I can think of better ways to spend my Sunday than worrying about a re-audition for my current job mid-season in a bad economy. Unfortunately, our director decided to hold auditions to keep our positions and announced the decision hardly more than a week prior. Last week, after a late and long night singing Turandot at the Met, I performed my re-audition, excruciatingly tired and a bit nervous. I slept almost four hours after that audition out of exhaustion. Somehow, I still managed to keep my posting as an alto soloist at the church; however, only two of us in the choir survived. Again, I don’t doubt that changes were necessary, but singing with 3 soloists who had lost their jobs but decided to continue for their two weeks’ notice felt a bit like singing in a graveyard. I only wonder if our new and talented director would also find it ironic to fire, mid-season, the very singers responsible for his appointment.
Believing that nothing could enhance my day after yesterday’s melancholy morning, I nevertheless dragged myself to a new yoga class to make use of my final days in my free weekly membership at Reebok. Thank you Aarona Pichinson, creator of Yoga of Nourishment, whose tweet from the fifteenth fits right in with my theme: “If you’d look back in 10 years and regret not doing it, do it.” Teaching yesterday’s Core Flow Yoga class, Aarona gave me the gift of exertion and joy. Somehow, despite the exhausting poses and relentless challenges, I left the gym feeling uplifted and enlightened, to the point of posting “Namaste” all over my social networks.
I still feel terrible that my friends lost their jobs. I still wonder how long I’ll be at the top of my game in this industry and how I can best keep myself there. It’s rainy and gross, and I feel like crawling into a hole. Instead, I’m off to work out once more at Reebok and to celebrate my dear friend Mickie’s birthday at a Metromix event. I have a feeling I’ll be glad I went.