Friday, January 21, 2005

Shabbat Shira -- A Preview

Every year at around this time, Temple Micah has a mostly-music service to commemorate the Jews crossing the Red Sea. The theme is Mi Chamocha, meaning “Who is like you among all the gods?” There is also a spot for Miriam’s song to recognize that Moses’ sister led the Jewish women in their revelry after the crossing.

There are probably as many people making music as there are in the audience. We have an orchestra of about 25 instrumentalists, including flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, tuba, violin, cello, guitar, and drums. The ages of these players range from 9 to probably 70. There is a youth choir of about 12 kids, a teen choir of another 8, and our adult choir of probably 16. Then of course there is the cantorial soloist, Teddy our director, and Justin who is playing the piano.

The most wonderful part of the orchestra is the trombone section, consisting of a grandfather and his 9-year-old grandson. The little boy’s trombone is almost a long as he is tall when it is fully extended. He intently watched his grandfather’s every push and pull during the rehearsal. And the trombone section was definitely not the worst.

We have only one joint rehearsal each year, just 3 days before we “perform”. The music consists of about 10 different versions or Mi Chamocha, Miriam’s Song, and all of the usual Shabbat service music. It climaxes in “When You Believe” from the recent Disney Moses movie, in which a young girl has a significant solo part. Teddy arranges much of the music and writes a part for every new instrument we add. He is a genius!

Every year I come out of the rehearsal thinking that it was virtually UNBEARABLE. Teddy is a real saint to listen to all those bad notes coming from young musicians and just respond with something like, “Maybe the violins could be just a little softer at this point.” Whereas if I were the director, I would probably say,”You, you, and you, just sit this one out!”

I know by now that the Thursday rehearsal is always disastrous, but that by the following Saturday morning, God intervenes to tune those violins and keep us all together, on the same page so to speak. Not to worry...

This year our real worry is the weather. We are going to be under a winter storm watch, with 4-8 inches of snow predicted. The good news is that it is not supposed to start until after our rehearsal call on Saturday. The bad news is that we may have a very difficult time getting home. So this year we need not only a God with a good ear but one who can mollify the weather.

More to come after the real thing. Let’s hope God remembers about the violins...

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