All this week, we have been talking about what we’re excited about as we approach our first in-person rehearsal as a chorus since March 2020. So, as Ensemble Companio begins what we had all hoped would be our pandemic-free, triumphant 11th Anniversary Season amidst both continued uncertainty and renewed commitment to the group and each other, I wanted to add what I’m excited about as we return.
Earlier this month, I had the distinct pleasure of joining both current and alumni members of EC to sing at the wedding of two of our alumni members, Drs. Cailin Wilke and Evan Crawford. It was a beautiful ceremony, complete with performances of Hamba Lulu and You are the New Day under the direction of our founding director, Joseph Gregorio, heartfelt readings and speeches, and rigorous adherence to CDC guidelines on gatherings of vaccinated individuals. The reception that followed was held at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY. And hanging over the atrium where we were seated for the reception was this excerpt from the poem Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot, which I have loved since I was first introduced to the text in a musical setting of it by Michael Slon:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Reading this portion of the poem made me think of Ensemble Companio and of singing together as a group again after so many months apart. I think it’s fair to say that we are all, current and alumni members alike, lovers of choral singing. We value it as a source of happiness and fulfillment. We know that singing together engenders a sense of belonging, companionship, and the formation of lasting interpersonal bonds (including at least two marriages).
We have spent these last 18 months exploring a world that was difficult to recognize and, for many, to traverse. Yes, we assembled via videoconference and Soundtrap to sing “together.” We did our best to make things familiar, to approximate the experience of being with one another. We are still not all the way through the pandemic and the difficulties it creates. But tomorrow, we get to gather together, sing together under the musically sensitive and compelling direction of Erik Peregrine, and experience again, as if for the first time, the unmitigated joy of creating music–of adding beauty to the world–together. I can’t wait. And I know we are going to treasure the experience all the more because these past 18 months have taught us how fragile and fleeting it can be.
I know I speak for every member of the group when I say that we are incredibly grateful for the support of our alumni and community from March 2020 to the present. We would not have the opportunity to be and sing with one another as a group without you. So despite the uncertainties that the ongoing pandemic brings, we cannot wait to share this season, and our love of making music together, with you.
We look forward to seeing you again soon.
President, Ensemble Companio