All-day singings & conventions

Golden Gate All-Day Singing

The eighth annual Golden Gate All-day Singing took place at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House in San Francisco today from 9:30 to 3:30. After a somewhat slow start, I felt it turned into a very strong singing. Admittedly, I was out of the room much of the time working the registration table, and I was recovering from bronchitis which limited the amount of time I could sing. Nevertheless, when I was in the room, the singing sounded very strong to me.

There were a few moments that stand out in my memory:

One of the greatest pleasures for me at an all-day singing or convention is the chance to sit next to some really good singers. Today at the Golden Gate singing, I got to sing next to quite a few good basses. At one point I wound up sitting next to Doug, whom I had never met before, while Phillip was leading no. 268 David’s Lamentation, and it turned into one of those situations where you each spur the other on to sing better than you would normally. We were also very loud, and I felt sorry for Jerry who was sitting right in front of us.

When Jackson was called, he chose to lead no. 400 Struggle On. He led at a very stately tempo, and at first I thought he was taking it too slowly. But it turned out to be exactly right for the mood of the class at that moment, and it also gave time for the harmonies and the meaning of the words to really sink in. I wound up thinking about that tune in a whole new way.

I don’t much like leading songs at conventions and all-day singings because it’s too loud for me standing in the center of the hollow square. But Rebecca needed someone to lead towards the end of the closing session, along about three o’clock. It should have been far too late to lead an anthem; nevertheless, I decided to go against convention and lead no. 236 Easter Anthem, because we had been singing it regularly in the Berkeley practice singing. The fifty or so people who were left by that time gave a rousing, tuneful rendition of the anthem. Sometimes going against conventions works out.

And there was the moment when I was sitting on the front bench of the bass section: I looked up as the leader brought us in on a fuguing tune. The leader had an unusual facial expression — eyes rolled slightly upward, lids slightly lowered, cheeks slack, head tilted slightly back — it was subtle, but I thought I recognized it as the expression that comes at peak experiences, such as moments of religious ecstasy.

Updated 24 April.