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Sweetest Heart

This morning marked Calvin's first performance with the Boychoir of Ann Arbor's Performing Choir. When he joined the choir last year, at the age of eight, he was automatically placed in their Preparatory Choir, the group meant for younger boys who have never sung in a concert, read music, or rehearsed their voices. The goal, of course, is to help them learn to do those things before they are thrust into the busier, more demanding Performing Choir with the older boys and more developed voices. Calvin had a great time all year, and learned a great deal from the director and the experience. He learned enough, in fact, that three weeks ago, at the end of the year potluck, the manager pulled us aside and asked us if he would be interested in singing with the Performing Choir for a special performance. He was thrilled, we were proud. Clearly his dedication and hard work over the year had been noticed. It was the best example I could have thought up, if I had thought it up, to show him how quiet hard work does not go unnoticed or unrewarded.

Calvin has been rehearsed two or three times weekly with the older group since then, and he has learned and developed as much in those three weeks as he did during the whole year with the prep choir. It was a humbling, but exhilarating experience for him, made more enjoyable by the warm welcome and gentle support given him by the older boys themselves. Since he hadn't been singing with them previously, he had some catching up to do worked, and he worked very hard both at rehearsals and at home with great results.

Both he and I now have songs like Ave Maria memorized.

The performance, the last of the year, was for a morning wedding that took place today. It was a small group of boys, not the whole choir, but they sang from the balcony of a beautiful, old Catholic Church in Detroit, The Sweetest Heart of Mary, and both the acoustics and the boys were astounding. During their final run through I sat in the congregation and listened to their voices drift over the whole church, filling it with an innocent depth that only a choir of young boys can create. It was beautiful. Stunning.

The rain was probably a huge disappointment to the marrying pair and their families, especially since the following brunch was held outside, where shivering guests huddled in the center of tents to avoid the rain blown in by the gusting, chilly wind. But as disappointing as the weather was, the choir did not let them down. Following the wedding, as the boys filed out of the church with the guests, and again as they joined them at the brunch, they were approached by several people who thanked them and complimented them gushingly. "Prettier even than the boys' choir at Oxford!" they were told by two separate guests.

The entire morning—it's early start at 5am, the gray, driving rain, the authentic beauty of the church, the pure, floating sound of the boys' voices—was a little dream-like, and a beautiful beginning to what we hope will be many years involvement with this wonderful choir and its wonderful people.

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