Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Tu creasti Domine

As we saw the first of our buses drift into view, the Resident Fan Boy said, "The day is going well!"
"Hush!" I admonished him. "The Festival Gods will hear you!"

Most middle-class reasonably urban Canadian children eventually participate in a Kiwanis Music Festival. It's been a landmark of the middle-class, town-dwelling Canadian childhood since the middle of the last century. The Resident Fan Boy was entered with his school band, I competed as a member of my school choirs, plus my elementary school specialized in Scottish Country Dancing. Elder daughter is another school band KMF participant, and younger daughter experienced it with her elementary school choir. Today, though, younger daughter charted new territory for the family. She was entered in the Solo Female Vocalist Section: 14 and under.

See, it's one thing being judged as a group, it's quite another being judged individually. It's yet another thing being the parent of an about-to-adjudicated offspring, especially if that offspring dwells somewhere out on the autism spectrum. I spent the long bus ride over to Saint Timothy's Presbyterian Church in Alta Vista trying desperately not to think of everything that could go wrong, battling back thoughts such as: "Will she remember to acknowledge her accompanist?" "Will she talk during other solos?" and worst of all, "If she makes a mistake, will she stop and want to go back to the beginning?"

We got there early. Very early. The Resident Fan Boy is a Virgo, after all. He checked out the format with the adjudicators, who showed up about ten minutes after we did, then tried to relay an idea of what would happen to younger daughter. She slid further into the pew and covered her ears. My heart sinking, I watched the other contestants arrive with their families. The singers were easy to pick out; each one was clutching a plastic water bottle. Great, I thought. We didn't bring a drink for her. We're ba-a-a-ad parents...

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, one of the adjudicators rose to greet the knots of families, accompanists and soloists, all clustered to the back rows of the church, not daring to sit ahead of the adjudication desks. "You're so quiet!" she laughed. No one laughed back.

There were eight singers, all to sing "The Birds" (music by Eleanor Daley; lyrics by Hilaire Belloc). Daughter would be the last to sing. I tried to relax my hunched shoulders and focus on each girl. They all looked older than younger daughter who is one month from fifteen herself. Some were dressed in cocktail party-type dresses, some dressed as if for a job interview. Some sang in wavering voices; others sounded like opera singers. Some emoted, others glanced nervously from side to side. When younger daughter finally slipped up to the front with her accompanist, I realized that I had been sitting in the same position, without daring to move, for over half an hour.

And she sang, just as she's been rehearsing it for the past month. A little more softly than she should have been, but beautifully on key and directly to the adjudicators. I wish you could have heard her. When she finished, she made a graceful sweep of her hand toward her accompanist, then bowed with a smile and unhesitatingly took her seat in the row of soloists to await the adjudication. I could see her zoning out a little, while the adjudicator spoke, but she was quiet with just a hint of stimming. I could see the other contestants glancing discreetly at her.

At a Kiwinis Music Festival Event, it is customary to rank the top three. The three girls chosen were pretty well who we'd thought they'd be and theirs were only scores announced: 87 and two 86's. All the others got participation certificates and the notes the adjudicator had jotted down while they sang. We greeted younger daughter warmly and went over the comments which were constructive and encouraging: more engagement, more dynamics, "a lovely soprano sound", words well projected with good consonants, "very good preparation -- a very sincere and musical performance". Her voice teacher will be pleased. Her score? Does it matter? (Okay, it was 83.)

We were forbidden to record or take pictures, but I pressed the button on my iPod -- and the Festival Gods gave me a good recording....of the piano, so I am justly served. I do wish you could have heard her, because I'm her mother and not impartial.

The Resident Fan Boy says he has an ear-worm and can hear the song constantly. Unfortunately, it's his voice he hears singing it. I have an ear-worm too, but I've been hearing my daughter's "lovely soprano sound" in my mind's ear all day. There are worse things to be stuck with.


VioletSky said...

Congratulations to YD!
You just about me on the edge of my seat reading through this. I well remember those Kiwanis, though I was always with a choir, but still nerve-wracking. Well done her.

Persephone said...

Well, I figure I have to generate some excitement and suspense until the new Doctor Who season starts...

Rob said...

One to treasure.