Thursday, October 12, 2006


So the 2006 Nashville Scene "Best of Nashville" awards came out today...

And St. Bartholemew's (my church) came in 1st for "Best Church Music".

[silent, flabbergasted]

I didn't even KNOW that was a category! I don't think any of us did! I mean, I love what we do and I think our Choir Director Eric Wyse is fantastic... but I'm one of the miked singers once a month, and I'm SO mediocre! Except that I can harmonize with almost anything (but in no consistent way - I bounce back and forth between alto and tenor to the mild consternation of the pianist Tom. I can tell he's thinking "PICK ONE!") And we only run through it together on Sunday morning an hour before the 8:30 service... it makes for a very exciting 4-5 hours, since you really have to stay on your toes. Sort of like SNL.

And we don't have a full standing choir - we only have rehearsals for Easter and Christmas, but throughout the year choir members trot up to the loft at whatever service they're attending... you look up there during a service, and there's 3 miked singers, an (excellent!) bunch of instrumentalists, and anywhere from 2-10 scattered choir members. Plus it's 80% women... we can't seem to get many guys.

I called my mom to tell her, I was so excited, and she mentioned that her church had come in 1st in past years... at which point I looked at the list again, and Christ Church Cathedral? was in 2nd place. This is the gorgeous Gothic downtown Episcopal church with the fanTAStic organ, a full permanent choir that does some SERIOUSLY HARD music... and we beat them?!

We do a rather eclectic mix of music - Eric loves ancient and historic church music, but somehow manages to combine it with contemporary praise & worship stuff in a way that is so organic. He's written a melody for the Lord's Prayer that brought tears to my eyes for the first year I attended there - it's got this unbelievable build that just blows you away. And he'll write melodies for other old hymn lyrics that are such a pleasure to sing.

His way of directing us is untraditional - in charismatic-influenced churches, it's quite common to repeat choruses multiple times, and he'll form the letter "C" with his hand for us to repeat the chorus. He'll "salute" his hand in the middle of his forehead if he wants us to go back to the top of the music, or hold up his pinky if he wants us to sing the tag at the end. (Although I told him that in India, to do so means you need to go pee.) You just learn to read his signals.

Can you tell I really love it? It's something I'd been wanting to do for so many years, but having grown up at Belmont Church and spent my 20s at Christ Community, there was NO WAY I ever got to help lead worship; not that I ever tried! All of the singers were established professionals, and neither church had a choir. And in addition, St. B's will occasionally do classical pieces in Latin, etc., like the stuff I did at Hillsboro High, which I LOVE.

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