It is hard to consider the concept of “tradition” without the familiar strains of “Fiddler on the Roof” running through my brain. However, with the end of the school year approaching, so many of our Glenbrook traditions have been put into practice. We’ve sung “White Christmas” at the Winter Concert, shared in the singing of the “Loyatlty Song” in the freezing cold after choir tour, delivered our Singing Valentines, seen the seniors’ baby pictures at the banquet and given them flowers at our spring concert, and are looking forward to our Concert in the Park and Graduation. And where would we be without “Fruitcake”? Knowing that we are participating in these events as so many have done before us helps us feel a part of something that is greater than ourselves. We feel connected to the past, and lay the groundwork for the future. There is real value in holding on to tradition and participating in these practices from year to year.
But what about new traditions? When is it time to let some of our old traditions go and to introduce new ones? A typical student spends four years at GBN, so doing something once or twice can quickly be viewed as “tradition” in a student’s eyes. Not long ago, we went through the painful process of replacing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with other songs for our Awards Ceremony. At the time, this was not a popular decision. However, for the past several years, we have been able to perform songs that were more specific to the theme of the Awards Ceremony and, I think, just as meaningful to the singers and audience.
It is healthy for our school and for the choral program to continually reflect on what we are doing and why, and to evolve according to our needs. Sometimes this process is easy, but more often, we find change to be difficult. For a bit of historical perspective, here are a few “traditions” that have come and gone…
Our spring concert used to be held outside in a tent the evening of Springfest. Huge hassle and big expense. And in case of rain? Well, we just got wet.
Before “Bridge”, there was “Life is a Celebration”. This life-affirming anthem was sung every year at our traditional “Celebration of Life” concert, held every November. The solos in this piece were the most highly coveted solos of the entire year. I admit to having a soft spot for this song, but it is hard to believe that the kids got emotional about singing “Life is a celebration. Celebrate life, celebrate life! and then shouting “Yeah!”. Really corny.
Traditionally, only Chorale and Cecilian sang on our Techny concerts. Treble and Var/Spar never got the opportunity to perform in that amazing venue.
For many years, Ow! limited their number to 4 guys. They really resisted growing to 5, then to 6, and now to 7, which is where they are today. I think this change has been for the best.
What are some of your favorite GBN Choir traditions? Feel free to share your thoughts by replying to this post.