How to conduct a choir
Hold your hands at chest height,
said the bass singer at the back,
We can see the beat better that way.
You don’t need to raise your shoulders,
just the eyebrows will do, and a smile.
We will follow you.
And they do.
They watch for the anacrusis,
I breathe up into the top of the beat
They wait for the moment of descent,
And they come with me
From the first bar to the next
Then from that system and over the page
My hands draw a line of waiting, a pause,
Into the silence a soprano calls out her melody.
From that one note, the men
And the deep altos find their harmony
And hum it into existence.
We are all suspended in this moment
Of intonation so perfect
That a harmonic emerges in the high ceiling.
I stretch my arms to hold the chord longer
We all take tiny unheard breaths
as I smooth the resonance down into pianissimo.
They watch my fingers close off the sound,
As if I am holding up a piece of finest silk,
then placing it over my heart.
photo by Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash