Martin and Scarlett stepped outside of their comfort zone but had an unforgettable experience at the Royal School of Church Music camp this summer. Here's Martin's experience.
It was a relief when the tenth person I met told me he was a 737 pilot. All others were Directors of Music and Choirmasters. Being a private pilot myself we swapped stories until I asked, “What got you into flying?” “Well,” he said, “I’d been Director of Music for the longest time…”
Having sung in the choir less than a year, and having been rejected by school music forty years ago for want of a “musical ear”, I was wondering what I was doing there. Our daughter Scarlett had led the psalm when her mentor Tessa Strout had fallen sick. We were advised that “RSCM camp would be the thing” for her. With little further thought, I had signed us both up for RSCM NW in Portland, joining our Tim McLellan, head proctor there.
The camp was intense. We attended 12 services in 7 days. Six hours of singing daily. Challenging pieces. The most demanding Director, Sarah MacDonald, from Selwyn College Cambridge and Ely Cathedral, England. The way to go was to switch off and submerge oneself in the music and the liturgy. It was monastic: a place to forget everything.
Scarlett found friendship with her like-minded compadres. The adults, in our own dorm, built new friendships too. We sang together, we socialized together. Meanwhile, the musical intensity grew and grew, and our final performance of Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb”, in Trinity Episcopalian Cathedral, will remain one of the most meaningful, satisfying events in my life.
We learned a great deal about music and singing. It was a luxury to develop pieces so fully. To sing pari passu with professional musicians at this level was an extraordinary experience. It was truly frightening. It was exhilarating. It was absolutely unforgettable.