Singing with a new voice

As busy as the past few days have been with the Veracode Hackathon, it hasn’t been the only thing happening. Our town of Lexington puts on a choral festival every year, in which choirs from all the local churches get up and sing a few songs, finishing with a mass sing. This year there were over two hundred singers, making me wish we had some Beethoven instead of Rutter to finish with.

But it was interesting for another reason. Our church choir director has been slowly introducing other musical traditions to the fairly staid United Church of Christ (aka Congregational) choir in which I’ve sung for the last few years. The year before I joined they performed a bluegrass mass. He’s made a specialty of shape-note music with us—only appropriate since New England is the home of a lot of the early shape-note hymns.

And he’s introduced us to the gospel tradition. Not just “classic” gospel but full-on modern gospel, with rhythm section, riffing, repeating as long as the spirit moves you, and everything else. We sang a set at our church’s contemplative evening worship that brought the house down, and we brought one of those songs to the choral festival this past Sunday. I never thought I’d be doing gospel riffs in church, but it’s fun.

Then of course, on Monday during lunch at the office, the Appsec Mountain Ramblers, Veracode’s own bluegrass band, played. Fronted by our CFO on banjo, we had a talented line-up of instrumentalists, so I just had to bring harmony vocals. It’s harder than I thought to sing high harmony, but so rewarding when you get it right.