Hanaa El-Warari chiming in from the Soprano section. The day was as bright and beautiful as the others. After we all had breakfast, we knew it was going to be a rough rehearsal. Mornings just aren't our thing, even with the best tasting café con leché coursing through our bodies. I felt as though there was some tension in the beginning of our walk to the music school. A morning rehearsal was just asking for a struggle.
It's interesting how a song you hear over and over again, no matter how incredible and moving it may be can sometimes slowly lose it's meaning the more times you sing it. Hallelujah was like that for me. Whenever we had rehearsed it for the past couple of months, it was just a bunch of notes on paper. My heart had hardened to it's meaning.
During rehearsal, one of our altos had brought up a rough personal experience that connected to one of the last set of lyrics to Hallelujah. That moment fell silent, and the tears started to fall from nearly everyone. I didn't think it would happen to me, but there I was, crouched in a chair, weeping. It was the kind of crying you can't control. But it was so cleansing and enlightening. It felt as though I learned a lot about everyone I knew without even having to ask anything. We all needed it, but we didn't understand why we needed it in that moment.
The night in Pamplona was warm and energetic. The church's acoustics were so immaculate they gave us chills. It was a spiritual experience to stand in front of those empty pews and really take in what forte really sounded like in that context. Pamplona is a smaller town than I expected, around 200,000 people, so I thought the crowds would be similar to the smaller cities we visited, maybe around 100 people, if we were lucky.
I was dead wrong.
I don't think I could have guessed how many people there were based on the roar I heard upon our entry. When we saw the near 900 people, there was a visible "OH MY GOD" on all of our faces. It was unlike any feeling I'd had yet on this trip.
Then we started singing. Everything; all of our struggles in the morning, all of our frustrations, all of our grief, all of our pain, all of our hurt, and all of our joy was poured out in the pieces we sang. Hardly a single chord out of place.
This is why we needed our good cry on the morning. Nothing close to this could have been achieved without that barrier broken. It was a completely emotionally transcendent experience.
"I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"
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Portland State Chamber Choir
PSU School of Music
1620 SW Park Ave, Lincoln Hall 231
Portland, OR 97201