Christmas is a season rich in musical traditions. Coming from a family steeped in music, I have fond memories of Christmas caroling out in the cold with family and neighborhood friends. I sang in countless Christmas concerts, and mustered family members to play musical instruments in church for Christmas services. It was a joy to see the tradition continue when our children were old enough to sing in Christmas concerts of their own. And when they went on to sing in college choirs we were treated to some of the finest musical tributes of the season.
With college graduations behind us, we decided the trips to distant campuses were no longer necessary. Instead, we have visited local colleges to sample their Christmas music. It’s amazing the talent we have in our midst.
This year, however, I was drawn back to the past. In middle school and high school, our daughter Karen spent five magical years singing under the direction of Julia Fahey in the Partners in Praise Girls’ Choir. It was an experience that would shape her life, both musically and personally. The music that the choir produced, the discipline that it required, and the mutual respect that each member had for each other were of the highest standard. They traveled internationally, performed spontaneously in public places and sang in prestigious venues, but more than that, they won the hearts of all who heard them sing. As Karen put it, Julia taught them so much more than just music.
So when I realized that I would be in the Twin Cities close to the time of their annual Holiday Benefit Concert, it was no decision at all to extend my stay long enough to attend. As always, it was an evening that filled my heart as well as my holiday music quota. The girls looked so young and I didn’t recognize a single one, but it was the same choir. They still had the that special sound, the spirit, and they owned the music. When alumni were invited up to sing, I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face as Karen took her place among the other singers. They all still sang like angels, just with richer more mature voices.
I couldn’t get enough of the music that night. This was one holiday music tradition that was well worth going back to relive. I just may have to do it again next year.