Today's blog is by guest writer Jill Kimball, who just finished her first year as a soprano with Seattle Pro Musica.
Finding a great choir can be as difficult as finding the perfect Seattle apartment. There are a lot of factors to weigh: location, size, community feel. Last summer, I’d just finished college in Oregon and was in search of both as I prepared to move to the Emerald City.
I thought I couldn’t get any luckier when I scored an apartment in Lower Queen Anne with sweeping rooftop views. But then, two months later, I found Seattle Pro Musica.
The myriad choices for singing groups in the Puget Sound area overwhelmed me at first, and I had to solicit a friend’s advice to narrow down a very long list of possibilities. But after a successful audition with Karen P. Thomas and just a few weeks of rehearsals, I discarded my list: it was clear SPM and I would be together for many years to come.
Why do I love SPM? Let me count the reasons…
1. The conductor. The entire choral world seems to know and love Karen P. Thomas, SPM’s fearless leader. Why? Because she’s funny, intelligent and personable. Because she’s not afraid to challenge us and push boundaries. Because she values our input and takes our criticism seriously. Karen quickly tears down the wall that usually exists between conductors and singers, welcoming new members into her home for parties, inviting them on weekend outings and taking a genuine interest in their lives outside of choir.
2. The great company. I’m generally a quiet person and have always been a bit of a social outcast. Luckily, in SPM, left-of-center tendencies are par for the course. I’ve geeked out with fellow choir members discussing nineteenth-century poetry, an obscure 1960s cult television show, and the extent to which Arvo Part’s music is accessible—and that was just last month. No matter how weird or far-flung your hobbies and passions might be, chances are you’ll find a fellow SPM member who wants to discuss them. With company like this, it’s no wonder I find it easy to come out of my shell at rehearsals and concerts.
3. The concerts. SPM is a resident choir at St. James Cathedral, arguably the best concert space for choral music in Seattle. Pair that with our conductor’s always-amazing repertoire choices, and add an astoundingly dedicated following of community members in the audience…and it’s easy to see why I got choked up in the cathedral’s east apse as we closed our last concert of the season in May.
4. The challenge. I don’t just sing in the three major concerts we prepare each season. I’m also part of Madrigalia and Schola, two smaller choirs within SPM that sing in smaller concerts all over the Puget Sound area throughout the year. Even though singing in these smaller ensembles means more repertoire to learn, more rehearsals to attend and more at-home practice time, I welcome the challenge: it reminds me that even after 10 years of choral singing, I still have so much more to learn.
5. The bonding. SPM takes a break from rehearsals and concerts in the summer, but that doesn’t mean we singers take a break from socializing with each other! I already have plans to hike, barbecue and celebrate holidays and birthdays with my fellow singers during the warm months. After just one year in the choir, I already feel like I’ve made lifelong friends.
How do I love thee, Seattle Pro Musica? Let me count the ways! I had a fantastic inaugural season and I suspect I’ll have even more fun in future years.
Jill Kimball, Seattle Pro Musica’s youngest member, is a Santa Cruz, California native and a recent University of Oregon graduate. She moved to Seattle last year for a summer reporting internship with The Seattle Times. She currently works for Expedia, guzzles gallons of coffee daily, pretends to know things about modern art and fine wine, and blogs about life in the big city here.
|Enjoying a cup of wassail at a Seattle Pro Musica party following the December 2010 concert series, NOWELL. |
From left, Peter Cornell, Ginger Ellingson, Jill Kimball, Madeline Bersamina.
|At the annual auction, Casino Royale. |
From left, Anna Thelen, Ian Bishop, Jill Kimball, Ashlyn Gehrett.