#24: Go to a Caritas Vocal Ensemble performance

I am fortunate to work with outstanding people. My colleagues are wickedly smart and incredibly conscientious, and their intelligence and drive help me sharpen my own professional skills. But my peers are hardly all work and no play; these folks know how to relax and make a job not only productive, but enjoyable. Nearly everyone in my office is hilariously funny, and I delight being the recipient of their wit and humor. However, I think what separates my peers from other business people even more than their intelligence or humor is the care and compassion they possess. Almost everyone in my work group generously gives their money, skills, and time to a variety of organizations; to me, this empathy and desire to do good is what causes my colleagues to truly stand apart from the crowd.

Last year I learned that one of my peers is in a small musical ensemble that performs benefit concerts to raise funds for different social service organizations. I decided I wanted to show my support for these terrific efforts by attending one of his group’s performances; so last Sunday, I made it to one of the choir’s spring concerts.

All of the group’s performances are held in churches around the metro area; and the physical space of this particular “concert hall” was lovely. The sanctuary was a very large, open room with lots of natural elements: stone walls, wood panel ceiling, skylights and large windows… The decor had a rustic, “cabin” feel to it – and the moment I stepped inside the space I felt comfortable and peaceful.

One of three 'audience' sections.

The main 'stage'.

I took a seat in the third row of pews, and read through the program while I waited for the singers to take the stage. As I made my way to the third page of the playbill, I was filled with a sense of delight when I saw this passage:

This image speaks for itself.

I soon learned that the group’s name “Caritas” comes from a Latin passage: “Ubi cartias et amor Deus ibi est”. This translates to: “Where charity and love are found, God is there.” Beautiful.

Two minutes before the performance was scheduled to begin, I looked up from the program and saw that only 20 people had entered the church to attend this concert. Now, to be fair, the weather outside was absolutely gorgeous; it was sunny, breezy, and 76 (!) degrees [F] (which is unheard of for this city in mid-March). An indoor concert stands little chance against those amazing weather conditions; had I not personally known one of the singers, and had this item not been on my 101 list, I suspect I would have opted to stay outdoors, too. I felt bad for the group that the showing for their event was so meager; but at the same time, I felt privileged to get to receive such an intimate performance experience.

As the singers walked to the front of the church, I was surprised to see only nine people take the stage. I guess I was expecting a larger group on their side, too… But as soon as the ensemble sang the first note of their first song, I was struck by how ridiculously powerful and talented those nine voices were. The group sang every song in four parts (two singers per part {soprano, alto, tenor, bass}) and completely a cappella (i.e., with no instrument support at all). The group also sang without a conductor. Individual singers took turns starting songs, and once they began the musicians “simply” tuned in to each other to stay together. (Anyone who has had experience performing in an ensemble likely knows how very difficult staying together in the absence of a formal leader can be.) So the fact that this group produced a wall of cohesive, blended, vocal sound for 90 full minutes ‘on their own’ impressed me tremendously.

I was also wowed by the variety of songs the group performed. The majority of the tunes were church-based selections; however, they were sung in several different languages. By the end of the concert the group had sung songs in Latin, German, French, Spanish, and English – and all with what I could discern as authentic accents (which is yet another feat that is very difficult to do well). Also, while most of the songs were religious, one set of songs was focused on nature – and the music in this selection mimicked sounds of bees, and chickadees, and a sunset… The tunes and lyrics of this selection were complex, yet playful and unexpected – and the group produced sounds that made me feel like I was witnessing the natural scenery described. Pretty cool.

However, I think what impressed me the “most” about this group is the amount of good they have done for local non-profits. In the 10 years these individuals have been performing as Caritas, they have raised over $100,000 for a variety of causes (from combating homelessness, to supporting children and family services, to improving the environment, to caring for the elderly….). Wow.

I was delighted to be able to help support the cause of this group; and I definitely feel good about my choice to sit in a church for the afternoon instead of under a tree. Caritas has three more concerts occurring this spring (April 29, May 6, and May 13); if you are local, I encourage you to attend one of their events. You will be helping individuals, strengthening communities, and supporting a pretty amazing group of ‘amateur’ musicians.


About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
This entry was posted in 101 in 1001, day zero project, postaday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to #24: Go to a Caritas Vocal Ensemble performance

  1. mybrightlife says:

    So many ordinary folk out there in the world discreetly getting on with the task of doing extra-ordinary things. Wonderful.


  2. What an amazing group of co-workers you have! I’ve never worked at any company where I found most people friendly, funny, caring and giving. You’re one lucky gal.


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