by ‘Kelly Ann’
This coming weekend, I will be singing Gounod’s:: Messe Solennelle (St.Cecilia Mass) in a joint performance of the local symphony and the Unitarian Universalist Choir. I quite randomly, after attending one service at the UU church, started singing with the choir near my house at the beginning of February. They don’t care that I am not a member of their church – nor that I am Mormon.
While I originally went to see what their music program was like, thinking it would be nice to learn a few hymns, I was drawn in by the spirit of the group and range of music that they sing. In the two and a half months since I joined the choir, we have sung some hymns – but also a mix of Broadway, Jazz, and Classical pieces. I have felt at ease as I have gotten to know an interesting mix of people who made me feel comfortable from the beginning. My section in particular has gone out of its way in encouraging me.
Having only sung in ward and stake choirs sporadically previously, and suffered a bit from a shy alto complex, singing in the UU choir has pushed me musically. The choir is actually pretty good with an enthusiastic musical director and professional singers as section leaders. It is really fulfilling just to learn new pieces and sing for 2-3 hours a week. However, being in the UU church has also fed me spiritually in ways that I did not know I was lacking. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt the spirit while singing pieces or interacting with others. It has been refreshing to feel welcome to a group where faith is integral to their existence, but people’s beliefs vary from Atheist to Theist to “former whatever” to “dual whatever” to simply a musician. I now come early to chat with friends I have made on Thursday nights and on some Sundays. I have been gaining new perspectives on lives and faith while being myself. I’ve even had some particularly interesting conversations about Mormon Feminism and Women’s Ordination with a couple women who attended the Sunstone West dialogue between Catholic and Mormon women (they identifying as Catholic as well as Unitarian Universalist). While there are definitely moments like when I have sung completely different words to hymns, that I have felt a bit odd thinking about the fact that I am singing with another church’s choir, overall it has been really satisfying.
As I am proud of how I have progressed as a singer, and am really looking forward to the performance this weekend, I have invited a handful of friends – albeit my voice will be hidden within my section and I may not be able to see everybody who comes. I have to say that I have been pleased that my Mormon friends haven’t been put off by the fact that it is in the UU Church – which I worried a little bit about. They recognize the importance to me, enjoy music themselves, and where possible are coming to support me. For which I am grateful.
In terms of discussion, I am curious what if any ways, have you participated with different faiths or religious traditions? Was it a good experience or bad experience?