Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yesterday was the thrilling Spectacular Spectacular at Ono High School that is otherwise known as the Chorus Competiton. Instead of spending the last 2 weeks of school involved in lessons (which would make sense surely, instead of trying to cram last term into 8 weeks and having extra make-up lessons on the weekends?) the kids have been alternatively trying to decifer an insane schedule that involves swapping 3rd and 4th period with 6th and 7th and then starting at roughly 9.38 and also trying to have choir rehearsals.

A little background: Each of the 1st and 2nd year homeroom classes are a choir group. They sing two songs; one which is compulsory, the other they can choose themselves (but after attending this Spectacular Spectacular for the 3rd year, I can now attest to the fact that rarely are the songs much different from year to year. I find myself very familiar with certain Japanese songs with no other explanation that I've heard it at the previous year's competition, as I most certainly do not listen to Japanese radio). This means that with 16 different homeroom classes you have the privilege of hearing one song repeated 16 times. 16 freaking times. It gets a little repetitive.

This year's event, thankfully, was on schedule and kept relatively short. In my first year, I seem to remember it going until about 2.30 in the afternoon, so thank goodness for small mercies and all that. I also wasn't a judge this year, so I was free to zone in and out as the occasional badly-pitched harmony demanded.

For some reason, the school invites two local choirs to perform as well. The second group were of a higher standard of the first, but to be fair, not only were they about a third of the age, they also had pretty blue velvet skirts, so they must have been professionals (in their own minds). The first group, bless them, were known as Silver Harmony. I would assume it's a reference to the fact that they are all relatively elderly and naturally, have silver hair. Except not a single one of them had anything resembling a hair colour of this nature (and let's not say anything about the harmony. That would be spiteful). Judging by the indulgent over-use of ancient vibrato that this choir employed, they must have all been well over 75 years old. And every single one of them had hair in various shades of black and dark brown which clearly was not their natural hair colour (and yes, pot kettle black, I know) and after sitting in a cold gym for several hours, this small moment of irony provided an undeserved amount of mirth. Something was necessary to stop being vicious and comparing them to cats that were slowly being stretched thinner and thinner.

However, it was not all about lovingly chosen velvet skirts and dead cat comparisions. Some of the class's choirs were very good, some were not so spot on with quite hitting the right pitch and some of them made up for their lack of skill with sheer enthusiasm and synchronated head bobbing and swaying. The latter choirs also had extremely vibrant choir conductors who looked like they would have sang for the whole 40 students they were in charge of, if only they didn't have to be out the front with the controlling and the hand waving and the conducting.

My favourite would have to have been the girl who was playing the accompanying piano for her class who was so involved in the moment and loving what she was doing so much, that not only was she playing with dramatic hand flourishes and body movements (like I always imagined Real Piano Players did), but she was singing along as hard as she could as well. I don't think her class was one of the top five, and I think the class that won the competition had 2 boys in charge for the conducting and piano accompaniment (boys that are totally fine with having amazing music skills that aren't guitar or drum based are destined to be wonderful adults one day), but I don't think it was possible for anyone else to have enjoyed those 5 minutes more than the girl and her piano. I hope I wasn't the only one who noticed and was able to share the delight that was radiating from this precious kid.

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