This morning I had a gig at Trinity Church. I worked at Trinity for 2-1/2 years while I was doing my Master's degree at New England Conservatory and the semester afterwards, before I went to Wisconsin. I've been back to Trinity on a few occasions -- to sing 2 weddings of friends of mine from the choir and then again just to attend a service and catch up with folks. This is the first time they asked me back as a paid soloist. After I left they cut the paid singing staff in half, so there definitely wasn't a paid position for me when I returned. (I now sing at Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill.) Being back at Trinity always brings back a lot of memories, but it is also a little disorienting, because they finished a major renovation project which has left most of the building outside of the sanctuary in an unrecognizable state. (It all looks so NEW! I hate new...) Also, there are many faces which have not changed, but a large percentage of the friends I had while singing in the choir have left - and, of course, Father Sam Lloyd is gone, along with a few others who used to be on staff. Today's service was a lengthy two-hour confirmation ordeal for which they hired two soloists to lead the congregation in the hymns. I'm pretty sure our presence there did mostly nothing, as we were not mic'ed, which would be wonderful if we were singing soloistic music, as the church has great acoustics, but we were singing hymns, which are of limited range and a range that doesn't project well. So, I was paid to bellow and not be heard, but oh well... I was paid... Anyway, as I was sitting there, my whole life at Trinity flashed before my eyes. I remembered my first rehearsals, how amazingly nice and welcoming the people in the Parish choir were to me, and what an effect that had on me as someone who was new to the city and trying to adjust to being back in school after a 7-year hiatus. I remembered how the passage from the choir room up to the sanctuary seemed like something out of an 18th-century Gothic novel. I remembered exploring the basement in all its squalor, to see if there was anything interesting to find (other than dirt and dust). I remembered how in anticipation of the renovation I was involved in a project to catalog all the music... and how one day there was an enormous flood because a pipe broke outside and all the water came through the window. I remembered having regular lunches with folks from the Parish choir at Tealuxe and later having regular brunches with the other professional singers at Joe's American Bar & Grill or Papa Razzi. I remembered what it felt like to be in my vestments around a bunch of other folks who liked to hug each other a lot -- during service at the passing of the peace or just any old time -- like I was a little kid at a slumber party in my pajamas or something... I remembered how one of the priests used to like to incorporate the words of my solos into her homily whenever I sang a wedding for her. I remembered all the Sundays I spent in awe staring at the beautiful stained glass windows, the gold parts of the altar, the detail of the wood carving on the pews... I remembered how confused I was trying to remember all the detail of the worship protocol I was completely unfamiliar with before coming to Trinity -- when to kneel, when to bow, when to turn, sit, stand, cross myself, etc. I remembered how mesmerized I was with the sermons of Father Sam Lloyd and how much I looked forward to hearing him speak. I remembered what a magnetic personality he had and how much joy I felt in speaking to him. I remembered our last conversation before I left, his praise for my singing, his encouragement, and his well-wishes. I remembered how at that same party, in which we were also saluting him, who was leaving Boston to become the Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, the Trinity Choir spontaneously broke out in song and how it was so beautiful and heartfelt that it made me cry. I remembered at the wedding of my friends' Adam and Marsha, who met at Trinity, how after the wedding, while we were all gathered on the front steps getting ready for a photo, the choir again spontaneously broke out in 4-part harmony to sing "May God bless you 'til we meet again" and again, how I cried. I remembered how tiny I felt, sweating like never before, as I faced my first packed house to sing the soprano solos in the first part of the Messiah. I remembered how, during the recording we made, I was instructed to stand up on the pew bench in order to get as close to the microphone as possible during my solo. And I remembered those silly animal noises... the loon, the chipmunk, the birds... I remembered the invocation Sam Lloyd always used before his sermons, "Come Holy Spirit and kindle in us the fire of your love. Take our minds and think through them. Take our lips and speak through them. Take our souls and set them on fire."
And then I left, met a friend for lunch, and went to see Spiderman 3. It was good!