A bass's-eye view of choral music

March 13, 2014

After the cutoff, the room was deathly quiet. It was as if no one wanted to move, fearful of breaking the mood. And then it happened. Just before Dale gave the downbeat to begin Movement 6, a gentleman in the audience grasped what we — the back row — had done. (Okay, the rest of the choir had done a phenomenal job, too, but throw me a bone here!)

Remember, this is in Spivey Hall. Incredible acoustics and all. With a mixture of reverence, awe, disbelief, and (dare I say it?) envy, he whispered one word.

“S–t.”

Best. Review. Ever.

For a bass, it doesn’t get much better than that. To move someone to the point of uttering a profanity (and in a good way), that’s about the highest compliment that can be paid to a bass. We bring our lunch pails, stand in the back row, and, as a friend of mine once put it, start laying pavement. Get to work. No flashy high notes, nothing fancy, but we get the job done. It sure beats working for a living.

I’ve experienced this before—particularly in a few sections of Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb (example.) It’s a great, great feeling to have as a musician.