Rhodes Chamber Choir
I stand awkwardly at the back of the room, feeling very out of place amongst the talented individuals that surround me. In a sea of black and white ensembles, I stand out like a sore thumb. I raise my camera to my face as a barrier between me and them. Through the camera, it doesn't matter if I am out of place. It doesn't matter if I am being stared at or doing the staring. The camera acts as my buffer and it makes me feel more at ease.
The practice begins and I weave through the crowd, wincing as the click of my camera pierces the beautiful voices that are echoing around me. I try to time the shots to coincide with their synchronised breathing so that it will be less distracting, but even then the sound rings in my ears and I am embarrassed by it. I am not supposed to be drawing attention to myself, but am supposed to be silently capturing them in these moments. I do not want the posed shots, don't want them to be turning to me and smiling. I want to capture their passion, their warbling, their excitement. That is what I want to see in my photographs rather than seeing a made up face posing for me.
It's not just me. Everyone is a little on edge at the moment. Each misplaced note is chastised, each mistake reprimanded. There is no time for error now. Practice ends and we file down the passageways towards St Peter's Cathedral. As guests make their way inside, receiving a glass of sherry at the entrance, the choir stands back on the grass while the details for the concert are finalised. The last few guests peter in and take their seats, and the choir start making their way one by one towards the front of the room. They stand before everyone, the nerves written on their faces, their bodies taut. The conductor walks to the piano at the side of the room and plays a single note before taking his position in front of them. He raises his hands and the music begins.
As they sing, you can see the stress floating away from their bodies. It takes longer in some than it does in others, but you can see it nonetheless. They are standing more comfortably than they were at the start. They are singing more confidently. They are starting to enjoy themselves, remembering why it is that they chose to participate in the concert, in the choir, in the first place. Nothing that they had been worried about before matters anymore. The audience fades away and they are no longer singing for anyone but themselves. So what if one note is out of place? It is one note in a myriad of notes, one voice in a symphony of voices. And though the symphony can hide the mistake of one voice, it is that one voice that also pushes the symphony forward, adds to it. The symphony would be nothing if not for the combination of singular voices coming together as one.
Watching them perform is inspiring. I am not a religious person, and therefore take little from their choice of song, but listening to them sing is uplifting nonetheless. It makes me want to push harder, makes me want to be better and makes me want to be a part of something bigger than myself.
I stand on the sidelines and snap photos left, right and centre. But I am not making these photos. I am merely capturing the life that is unfolding before me.