I’ve just started rehearsals for what will be my seventh concert with the Capitol Hill Chorale. The general theme is music from America’s heritage, which boils down to this: lots and lots of shape notes.
Last week, while we were singing through director Fred’s selections, I really wasn’t into it. It wasn’t because of a lack of understanding — these songs are, musically speaking, fairly simplistic. But to me, the music was just kind of meh.
Tonight, I was a little more into it. This isn’t so bad, I thought. I can trudge through this before we get to the completely-in-Georgian concert at the end of the season.
Then Fred asked us to pull out a hymn called “Resignation.” I heard the first few notes and realized that not only did I know this one, but I’d sung a version of it nine years ago in my Las Vegas Academy choir days (albeit as an alto, because that’s the voice part I sang for years before a voice teacher told me everyone else had been wrong).
To this day, “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” remains one of my favorite pieces of music. Every once in a while, I put the Mormon Tabernacle version on my phone because it’s just that beautiful. There’s a section that starts about three and a half minutes into the song that I consider perfection. The music swells and the harmonies come together before it all quietly fades away.
The version the Chorale is singing was written by American composer Virgil Thomson, and it provides the foundation for the Mormon Tabernacle arrangement by Mack Wilberg.
This random connection I felt to the music was unexpected, but I’m guessing that’s what Fred hopes to do with the concert. And if that’s the case, then I can continue to be a little more into it than I was last week.
Here’s the entire version of the arrangement I sang in high school: