I’ve been singing forever. My first “unstaged” performance was at the age of seven. I was in the shower trying to replicate the soprano I had just heard on the radio. My parents, on the other hand, heard my screams, thought I was being attacked and rushed in to save me. Over the years, I learned to control my vocal chords, but my enthusiasm for singing never waned.
My first choral group performed in heavy velvet gowns amidst the paintings of the Ponce (Puerto Rico) Art Museum. Our director was from Majorca and spoke no English. My first challenge. The music was the next one. We sang in Russian, Latin, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian (well maybe not that one), and pretty much in all languages whose countries, back then, could barely be found on a map. After the uber classical experience, I slid into four-part harmony with the Sweet Adelines and found a home there for 14 years. Next came two groups of more modern/contemporary music, and I was sure I had found my niche.
And then one day, several friends and I attended one of the first Orlando Circle of Friends performances. I saw what I was missing. This group was having fun! I wanted to have fun!! The best part for me (aside from the singing, of course) was the opportunity I was given to let my creative side emerge. Where most directors stick to the composition, Mark reinvents and innovates; and he encourages us as individuals to do the same. I’ve been able to indulge my passion for parody-writing—a skill begun half a century ago and nearly lost. Thank you, Mark.
Having sung with groups of all sizes, I confess there’s a hair-raising chill in performing in a large venue before a huge audience (I got to do just that at Carnegie Hall a few years ago). But size, as they say, isn’t everything. And despite how trite this must sound, the members of our group are truly a family. We not only sing together--we also share our joys, our heartaches, our passions. I wouldn’t trade it for any number of appearances at Carnegie Hall! I came to this group with six decades of choral singing experience. I hope to be able to continue the joys and challenges into my seventh (and maybe) eighth decades. Meanwhile, I can’t quite get over the irony of having first sung in an art museum and now returning to another one. For me, the “Circle of Friends,” has brought me full circle in every sense of the word.