This blog is primarily focused on my work as a designer, but every so often, I feel compelled to share thoughts and pieces of my personal life. My second passion in life is choral music, and today I'm going to share a little about my personal history with music and something new and exciting that I'm doing now. I hope you enjoy reading my story!
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents will tell you, however, that when I was a toddler I was a pretty horrible singer. I haven't seen any video evidence, but from their impressions, it seems that I was fond of singing loud, off-key renditions of the Mexican folk classic "La Bamba" (Spoilers: my version of the lyrics are included at the bottom of this post) and it's family legend that at age 4, I insisted on joining my older brother and sister in a karaoke performance of "Ob La Di Ob La Da" at their elementary school's Spring Fest.
Luckily, as I got older my sense of pitch began to improve. Which was great because my love of music was as strong as ever! In 4th grade, I picked up the trumpet and I joined the Clearview Elementary Chorus which was then led by Mr. John Gouker. Some of my favorites from our repertoire were an arrangement of "Yakkity Yak" complete with Kazoo interlude and a mashup of classical pieces with the lyrics changed to describe cafeteria leftovers gone awry ("This piece of beef is really past it's prime, born just before Zsa Zsa Gabor!"). To this day, I still remember all of the words to my solo in our 3rd grade Mini-Musical titled Interplanetary Jammin'. ("The third planet, Earth is our home world. It's the only planet where we wouldn't freeze or fry!").
As I transitioned to Junior High school, my interest in music became more serious. I was singing with the Chorus, Show Choir and continued playing trumpet with the band. In 8th grade, I switched to tuba at the request of my band director, Mr. Jeff Wise. Looking back, I'm pretty sure his reasoning went a little like this, "Man, Stevie's not too great at trumpet but I can tell she REALLY loves music and is going to stick with band through high school. Tuba, it is!"
And Mr. Wise was right! I played Tuba in the Symphonic Band, Concert Band and Marching Band all four years of high school, finishing up my Senior year as Band President (probably the Director's least favorite President in recent memory, but that's a story for another time), Tuba Section Leader and Brass Caption Head. But as involved as I was in band, I felt that my true home was in Mr. Tom Wise's Choir Room. By my senior year, I had placed in the District and Regional Chorus competitions for two years in a row, was Alto Section Leader and Concert Choir Vice President. I sang in the Madrigal Choir and I even co-founded a student-run A Capella Choir with my fellow alto, Allura Alonso. I seriously considered majoring in music education when it was time to think about college, but decided instead to study Interior Design and keep choral music as a hobby. (Sadly, I haven't touched a tuba in the 5 years since high school graduation.)
Through college, I continued to be heavily involved in choral music, singing first with a community choir before finding my way to Chatham University. Ms. Stacey Conner was an incredible director, and for the first time in my life I had the opportunity to take weekly voice lessons. I served as Choir Secretary, Vice President and President in consecutive years, and thoroughly enjoyed my role in planning our yearly events and Chatham Traditions, such as fall's Cabaret, winter's Candlelight service and our annual Spring concert. The one thing I did miss during college was singing full SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass). Since Chatham University was then an undergraduate women's college, we only sang arrangements written for Soprano and Alto. I dreamed about joining one of the famous professional choirs in Pittsburgh like the Bach Choir or the Mendelssohn Choir, but between my school and work schedule it never would have worked out.
After my college graduation in 2013, I was for the first time in 12 years not a member of a choir. I kept saying to myself "I'll find a choir to audition for soon", but with the chaos of moving back to my hometown, planning our wedding and finding a job, I just never made time to seek one out. Then in August of this year, I remembered my goal and decided that now was the time. After some Google-searching, I found that the York Symphony Chorus was accepting new members and had auditions scheduled for September. The next day, I set up a month of private lessons with Katie Berkebile to get myself ready! It felt great to brush the "rust" off and get back into singing. When September came, I felt confident and excited about the chance to sing with a choir again.
I was so relieved and excited to find out that I had made the Chorus! And a few weeks later, I was honored to successfully audition for the Chamber Singers, The York Symphony Chorus' smaller ensemble. I feel so grateful for all the amazing music educators who have helped me and inspired me along the way. Without them, I know I wouldn't have had this amazing opportunity to continue with music into my adult life.
Last Christmas was the first Christmas since 2001 that I was not performing in a choir concert, but I am happy (and a little overwhelmed!) to report that this year I am preparing over 350 pages of music to perform during the holiday season! If you are local to York County, you can see me perform with the York Symphony Chorus on Saturday, November 29th at 4:00pm (ticket info, here) or at First Presbyterian Church of York for their Christmas Cantata on Sunday, December 7th at either 8:30 or 11:00am.
And, as promised...
Classic Mexican Folk Song made popular by Ritchie Valens in 1958
Lyrics adapted by Stevie Greek circa. 1994-5
La la la bamba
Don’t get any on-ya
You sloppy pig!
Oh, Natasha Linguine
Tastes good to me!
Repeat as desired (to the chagrin of your family, who are now bleeding through their ears)